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Model Orientation

The orientation of your model during the print process can determine success and failure. Follow these best practices to improve your prints.

XYZ Orientation

There are a few ways that you can change your model's orientation in the X, Y, and Z axes. The easiest way is to click-and-drag on your model while the orientation tool is open. You can rotate your model more precisely in one of the three main axes by typing specific angles into the boxes in the orient tool.

Orientation toolbar and settings

You can use Command-Z (OS X) or Ctrl-Z (Windows) to undo rotations, as well as other model operations.

Tip

If you hover the mouse over the X, Y, or Z rotation box in the orient tool, and move your wheel up and down, you will get a smoothly varying rotation in that axis.

You might notice that the X, Y, and Z rotation angles reset to 0 degrees after applying a rotation. This is because changing the order in which the rotations are applied also changes the result you will ultimately get; it would be hard to make sense of the angles if they were displayed persistently. To see an example of this behavior, load a model and create a duplicate of it. Select the first copy of your model and apply a 90-degree X rotation, followed by a 90-degree Z rotation. Select the second copy and apply the same rotations in the opposite order. You should see a different result. It's unclear which of these two results would be intended if the boxes displayed persistent angles. The display would read X:90, Y:0, and Z:90 in both instances, but the way the model actually rotates in the two cases is different.

Extend the life of your resin tank by placing your models in different locations on the build platform each time you print. This prolongs the life of the tank and improves print quality by distributing the amount of laser exposure throughout.

Select Base

“Select Base…” is an orientation tool that allows you to select a face on your model to point down at the build platform. Click “Select Base…” and then click on a specific point on your part. PreForm will then rotate your part into position.

Once you click “Select Base…” your cursor will appear as an orange arrow when you hover over a model.
Model with base selection arrow as cursor

The part is rotated so that the clicked area faces the build platform.
Part rotated with base as selected

This is a quick way to orient parts when you have a definite “front” to your model. Selecting the underside as the base can help minimize the amount of post-print finishing you have to do, as the support marks will not appear on the cosmetic surface which now faces upwards.

Tall Supports on Hinge Side

If printing a larger part at an angle, it is good practice to position the taller supports on the hinge side for a Form 1+. In PreForm's default view, the hinge side is the right side of the build platform. It is labeled “HINGE SIDE” in the “Layout” view.

TIP

The PreForm view represents an inverted perspective of the printed model. Pay attention to the front, hinge, and wiper labels in the layout view when orienting a model.

Print Flat Surfaces at an Angle

Flat surfaces with support structures print much more successfully at an angle of at least 10–20º. You will notice that if you use the automatic orientation in PreForm by highlighting your part and clicking “Orient Selected” it will usually position your piece at an angle. After each layer, the printer performs a “peel” process, which literally peels the layer off the PDMS surface of the resin tank. The forces involved can distort the extremely thin layer of a flat surface mounted on support structures. If a planar surface is oriented at an angle to the build platform, there is only a little overhang for each new layer. Furthermore, many thin-walled parts present significantly less area in any slice when printed at an angle.

A flat print oriented directly parallel to the build platform - more likely to fail

A flat print oriented at an angle to the build platform to improve print quality

Orient to Support Overhangs

Parts print one layer at a time. Features that would print as part of a layer without being attached to the base or another section of the model are known as overhangs. Without support structures, such a feature would lose itself in the resin! PreForm Software automatically generates supports to fix this issue. By default, PreForm will also generate internal supports that build from one part of the model to another. You can disable this feature by unchecking “Internal supports” in the Supports menu.

An unsupported feature may require re-orientation or revised support settings

A fully supported overhang

Save your Work

After all that work orienting your model, you may want to save the layout, or “job”. PreForm Software will create a .FORM file with all of your settings, making it convenient to reload or share the file exactly as you printed it. Do this by selecting “Save” or “Save as…” from the File menu.

Contact Support

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