Sign & Digital Graphics

April '19

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • April 2019 • 33 Preparing files for 3D printing Stephen Romaniello is an artist and edu- cator and has taught digital art at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, for over 28 years. He is a certified instructor in Adobe Photoshop and the author of numer- ous books and articles on the creative use of digital graphics software. Stephen is the founder of GlobalEye Systems, a company that offers training and consulting in digital graphics software and creative imaging. W hat is the best way to display how real-world objects look before they are manufactured? A photo or a drawing gives us a vague idea, but if you're in product development and you need to show a working model that can be touched and felt to an investor, a client or customer, a 3D prototype is the best option. Hand-made models of wood, metal, cardboard or other materials are labor intensive and can take weeks or months to develop and the inevitable changes that need to be made take even more time. Enter the 3D printer! 3D Printers 3D Printers are here to stay. There are a lot of 3D print- ers on the market today as this new technology has quickly carved a firm foothold in the manufacturing industry. I pub- B Y S T E P H E N R O M A N I E L L O The Digital Eye 3D Prep DIGITAL PRINTING AND FINISHING DIGITAL GRAPHICS Figure 1: Today, 3D printers are used for the fabrication of everything from board game pieces to prosthetic limbs Figure 2: 3D printers are more affordable and more reliable than ever. This Inuser desktop printer costs only $145 and can print an object that is approximately 4.25"W x 4.25"D x 4.5"H. lished an article in the October 2015 edition of Sign & Digital Graphics called "Updates in 3D Technology," and two and a half years later the 3D printing industry has steamrolled forward. Assuming that at some point you may want to purchase a 3D printer or at least have a model printed, this article focuses on preparing files for output. Rapid Prototyping The idea of "rapid prototyping" emerged during the 1980s. It is simply the automated method of developing models and prototypes. 3D printing is a logical extension of this idea in which product designers make their own rapid prototypes in hours, using software and sophisticated machines similar to ink- jet printers. 3D printing is advantageous because it saves time, lowers costs, and offers unlimited design options for product development. As the technology evolves, more uses for 3D print- ing emerge. Today, 3D printers are used for the fabrication of everything from board game pieces to prosthetic limbs (Figure 1) and 3D printers are more affordable and more reliable than ever. (Figure 2) 3D Modeling Modeling software includes programs that design basic three-

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