In the previous articles from the series about the ZMorph VX 3D printer, we mentioned that what distinguishes the Polish manufacturer is the comprehensive, proprietary software – Voxelizer. What exactly is it and how is it different from other third-party 3D modeling softwares? We will prepare a few articles about its capabilities – today we will focus on preparing for work and describing the basic functions necessary for users who start working with ZMorph 3D printer.
Before we get into the technical details, a few words about the specific features of the software. Voxelizer is designed to handle not only 3D printing toolheads, but also the CNC milling and laser devices. In total, the software gives access to 9 operating modes. Each of them contains special presets and allows for advanced editing of 3D printing settings, 2D and 3D cutting and engraving, laser cutting, thick paste printing, and others.
Its name, Voxelizer, is also not a coincidence. Voxelizer analyzes the geometry of the 3D model in a different way than traditional softwares – instead of using triangles, the program decomposes objects into three-dimensional voxels, i.e. the smallest units in three-dimensional graphics. On this basis, it generates g-code in a completely new way. Such an approach to the 3D model allows for a much faster change of dimensions and geometry of models.
How to begin work with the Voxelizer?
Voxelizer is a free software, available for download from the ZMorph website. Currently, there are two versions of Voxelizer 2.0. – stable version, and continuously developed Voxelizer Experimental. Both versions are available for Windows and Mac OS (the experimental version is also compatible with the Linux operating system). To obtain a license, free registration is required, during which it is optional to enter the license code, which the user receives with his ZMorph 3D printer.
The start screen allows you to choose your 3D printer from a list divided into two sections: devices officially supported by the manufacturer and unofficial ones, developed by the software community. Let’s follow the selection step by step on the example of the ZMorph VX printer . Select the printer and then the module to be used. In the case of 3D printing modules, it is also necessary to select the size of the installed print head. This option is not available for the laser module and CNC.
The module selection allows one to go to the option of working with the model. In today’s article, we will focus on working with a single plastic extruder. The whole process has been divided into three stages (lower part of the screen) – Scene, Settings, G-code. Let’s follow each of them.
From the very first stage, the software offers a wide range of possibilities . It must be admitted that a large number of editing options can be an asset and allows for a freedom of use. At the same time, the enormous range of the parameters that can be modified can overwhelm especially novice users. However,tThe manufacturer meets the challenge, creating the ZMorph knowledge base – via support.zmorph you can get help and answers to bothering questions.
In the Scene stage, the user mainly has an access to change the position of the object on the worktable in the Models arrangement panel, the following elements can be edited according to one’s own requirements:
- Scene – placement of the model / models in the workspace with the auto-placement option,
- Model – duplicating, scaling the model and precise placement on the worktable,
- Voxel Precision – determining the precision of 3D printing – it can be determined automatically, then the program will select the most appropriate quality of implementation for the selected spatial model. Choosing by yourself, the following options are possible: Detailed, Balanced, Fast – with each of them the size of the voxel changes in further work (in the Custom option, this dimension is defined independently),
- Rotate to plane – rotation around a selected axis,
- Clipping – dividing models with a plane and cutting off model elements that we do not want to 3D print, e.g. removing artifacts.
At the Scene stage, it is possible to automatically repair the 3D model. To go to the next stage of work, click the Next button – then the described voxelization of the 3D model takes place.
The most comprehensive section allows you to set many detailed 3D printing options. The user has access to such options as:
- Printing settings – basic 3D printing settings, such as material selection, quality of implementation (determining the level between “high quality” and high speed “- 50% by default), percentage of support filling and raft. Very basic options, which, however, will allow for quick 3D printing of models that do not require additional optimization work,
- Quick Settings – dozens of detailed parameters that can be adjusted to the needs of specific 3D prints. They relate to aspects such as retraction, printing speed and strength properties of 3D print.
- Filament preset list – a list of filaments with those assigned by the manufacturer (6 materials with predefined settings) with the option of adding your own materials,
- Durability preset list – predefined settings regarding the strength of the model, also with the option of adding your own profiles,
- Support preset list – similar to the previous module, this time concerning supports,
- Voxelmap transformation, Filters – advanced options for model editing (e.g. smoothing, noise removal, edge rounding) and working with several models (e.g. subtracting or adding common parts of models, establishing mutual dependencies). Lots of interesting options for experimenting with spatial models,
- Tree structure, Custom gcode – options that allow you to interfere with the g-code, definitely for experienced users who will know how to improve the 3D printing process, not spoil it.
The Voxelizer uses the Ambient Occlusion technique, known from computer graphics, which was used in 3D printing for the first time. The shading system in Voxelizer is employed, among others, to locate darkened, less visible areas of the model and perform the most demanding operations there.
Setting the adequate parameters ends with generating a file for 3D printing. In case of problems, the software will warn us about possible problems and errors that may occur during 3D printing. The program returns the information about the number of layers, the amount of filament needed to print and the estimated time. At this stage, you can transfer the model directly to the 3D printer (e.g. via a USB cable) or export the file to an SD card.
The software also provides detailed tracing of the G-code paths generated by the program. In the Gcode View and Dignostic tabs, it is possible to track how the print head will move and make final changes (such as resizing the voxel).
The software has been designed in such a way that both beginners and experienced users will be able to get as much out of it as they need. With the basic options, it is possible to quickly and easily prepare a file for 3D printing. By bottoming into advanced settings, we can adapt the process to our requirements in literally the smallest detail.
The visual performance itself is also noteworthy – the animations of the generated supports are proof that a lot of effort has been put into preparing the latest version of the software. The manufacturer, however, does not rest on its laurels, as Voxelizer is constantly developed and improved by its creators.