Saturday, April 29, 2017

M3D Micro/Pro Software - Print Manager Page

Version V1.7.0.71 - ALPHA

At the time of this writing, v1.7.0.71 is in the Alpha stage of development.  Current Micro users may want to wait until the software is either in Beta or Full Release.
There is no label that officially identifies the page we are going to discuss in this post.  But, Print Manager Page seems appropriate. 

M3D Print Manager Page
Notice a major upgrade to this page in this new version. We see 9 convenient tools parked at the left side of the screen.  In the previous version of the M3D printer software, there were only 3 such tools.  

But before we get to those, let's examine the most used buttons at the bottom of the screen and to the lower right of the screen. 


Primary Print Manger Buttons

The most used button in this group is the Print button in the center of the group.  It simply starts the printing process.  To the left of the Print button is the Reset View button that returns our viewpoint to the front view.  To the right of the Print button is the Center Model button that allows us to quickly center the currently selected modelIt does not center the entire model group if there are more than a single model on the print table.

The Back to Library button is found to the right and toward the bottom of the screen.  It look like this:
Clicking on this button takes us back to the Library Page.  Because we can Open a Model from the Print Manager page, the only reason for needing to go back to the library is if we want to load an item already in the library onto the print plate.


Now we can turn our attention to the new toolbar docked to the left side of the screen.
The object to be printed in the above sample really doesn't lend itself to demonstrating the full power of these tools.  So, we will bring in another that starts out by being too big to print.  To do so we will click on the "Back to Library" button at the bottom right sode of the screen and select a different model from the Library.  Then we will click on the Printer image to return to the Print Manager Page.  The result is this:

M3D Print Manager Page - Model Too Big
Notice that this time two walls are bright orange in color.  This means that the object extends past the edge of the print plate and needs to be resized or reoriented before it can be printed.  Let's examine each tool to see how they might or might not be able to help get this model ready for printing.

The MOVE Tool

To move or relocate a model on the print table we click on the following tool icon.

Move Button
Clicking on this icon brings up a second dialog having "X" and "Y" values.

X & Y Value Set Dialog

By changing the values in this dialog, we are able to move the object left to right ("X") or back to front ("Y").  In the case of this object there is no problem current issue with the "Y" location and because the object overhangs both left and right edges, we cannot solve our issues by changing the "Y" values.  So, we can click on the Move Button again to remove the dialog.  We may come back to this later.


To resize an object we click on the following tool icon.

Resize Tool
When we click on this icon, a second dialog box is displayed enabling us to resize in three dimensions... "X", "Y" and "Z".

XYZ Resize Dialog
There is a checkbox in the center of the dialog box.  When this is checked all the values change with a single value is changed.  When it is not checked, the values can be set independently.

Clearly, using this tool could seem to solve our problem.  In fact, if we lower the values to 93% (0.93) we see that the object is within our print limits.  There are no highlighted areas!

Size reduced Until Part Fits

However, since this part is designed to interface with other parts even a small 7% reduction might be too much.  Since our issues are with the X dimension, we could unlock the values and only set the "X" to 0.93.  But, for now we'll take all the values back up to 1.00.  We'll try one more thing before resrting to resizing.  Click on the Resize Tool to remove the dialog.


To rotate an object we click on the following tool icon.

Rotate Tool
When we click on this icon, a second dialog box is displayed enabling us to rotate in our model around three axes... "X", "Y" and "Z".

Rotate Around X, Y or Z axis dialog

In almost all cases, it is the "Z" axis that we want to rotate around.  Altering "X" and "Y" can often result in the part needing supports where no supports were required in the original orientation.  However, it is sometimes necessary if the model was designed so that it is brought in having an orientation that would not print well without supports. 

In the case of this model, it turns out that rotating the model -85 degrees orients it in a position where all the object fits in the print area without having to resize it.

Rotating -85 degrees fits the object on the print table
This is a far better solution than resizing the object would have been.  Click on the Rotate Tool to remove the Rotate Dialog.

This is the first of our additional tools in this new version.  We can load multiple models into the Print Manager.  This tool helps us select which model we want to manipulate with the tools we've already discussed. To access a list of the available objects we click on the following tool icon.

Model List Tool
Before clicking on the Model List Tool button, we'll bring in multiple models as in this sample.

m#D Multiple Models in the Print Manager
To help us see the three individual models a bit better, we'll hold down the left mouse button and move the mouse to rotate to a top view of the print plate.

Multiple Models - Top View
Note that several objects are highlighted with a colored edge.  A single model can have multiple parts.  In this case, the shark model includes a shark ring, a swimming figure and a sign.  Clicking on the Model List Tool brings up a list if the models in the Print Manager.
Model List
Interestingly, even though the shark was the active model when I first clicked on the Model List Tool button, it was not originally highlighted as expected.  This is most likely due to the "ALPHA" status of the software.  The above image was grabbed AFTER I manually selected the shark using the list.

Only one model can be selected at a time.  So, to fix the fact that the shark model is outside the prinar tab;e boundaries, we have to select each of the objects and move them individually.  The next three images demonstrate this.  You can click on the image to make it larger.

Selecting Models from the List and Moving them indiidually
You can also select models by cliking on them.  But, the selection, for now, is not reflected in the Model List Dialog.


Sometimes it is convenient to load multiple copies of the same model into the Print Manager.  While repeatedly go though the Import process, it's much easier to simply select the object and click on the Duplicate Selected Object Tool which adds another copy instantly.

Duplicate Tool

Remember, this software is currently in "ALPHA" status.  But, when the duplicate object is brought in for now, it will most likely have to be moved as you can see from this image.

M3D Duplicated Model
I expect that eventually the original model will be automatically moved to make room and the new model will be placed so that no additional relocation is required.  But, for now it's easy enough to manually move things around.  I'm just thankful we now have a quick way to duplicate objects easily.

There is one thing that should be mentioned in a discussion of choosing to print just one object many times vs. duplicating the object and printing once.  Every object you add to the print plate increases the chance of failure.  If one part fails for any reason the whole print job is ruined.  Therefore, one must know one's printer very, very well before starting a long print job with duplicated parts.  Sometime I make that choice; but, most of the time I deem it wiser to print a single item at a time.  In generally, either method ends up taking about the same overal amount of time.


To delete the currently selected model click on the Delete Model Tool Button. 

Clicking on this button deletes the currently select model.  To delete multiple models each has to be selected and deleted individually.


The UNDO and REDO tools behave in a typical Windows or Mac style.   The UNDO Tool Button looks like this.
And the REDO Tool Button looks like this.

UNDO takes one step BACKWARD in the action queue each time it is clicked.  The REDO tool just just the opposite.  It moves FORWARD and restores actions removed by UNDO for each click.  So, you never have to worry that you are going to make a serious mistake or loose a model by accident.  That's nice to know for peace of mind.


The Save Successful Print button looks like this.

OK.  I'm going to have to get back to you one this one.  Because, I don't know if you have to get through a print before using this one or not.  When I try it, it seems to save a fike with the .ZIP suffix.  But, I can't seem to find the file.  Again, this IS an ALPHA release.

So, there you have it.... the Print Manager page in the new version ALPHA.  I don't know about you; but, I like the added convenience of the new left side toolbar options.

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