Can the 3d printer take .stl files? Thats what I use for mine and it works great.
I assume you are using a zCorp machine.
It has been a long time since I looked at printing in color and I don't have access to my documentation right now - but as I recall there are two files involved. One - the stl file that prints the geometry and two - the image file that zCorp printer uses for the color. An search on the printer site or your documentation should explain the process.
If you can't figure it out, post back and I'll review the proceedure (as I should know this off the top of my head).
Hi JD. You may be right or wrong but the question is mute for me now.
My experience is that I was unable togenerate a file that the 3D printing service people could use.
However, I sent them a P&G and their expert was said to get what they needed. So I got the parts. BUT some colours were missing on my colour coded gauges making them useless. Also the Zcorp material that was the only useable material for this colour process, has the consistency of a cream cracker. Weak, brittle and crumbly. And a rough surface.
I looked into the stratsys abs material. Sounded good but would not work for me since they cannot alter colour within a layer.
No complaints about the 3D people I contacted. All were helpful. The 3D printing technology I needed, does not appear to exist yet.
just for ref (it sounds like you've already done it) the easiest way I've found for colour:
1) create model in Inventor, colour parts to suit, save and quit
2) open 3DS Max Design (part of the Suite) and before importing anything check it's on the same units as Inventor (otherwise its output will be scaled) - "Customize" -> "Units Setup"
3) drag and drop the ipt/iam into 3DS - hopefully you should have a coloured part imported.
4) Export and choose VRML option
Get quote (and double check dims to ensure it has not scaled).
Stl isn't coloured so whoever is printing it will have to colour the stl they import, which can be a ball-ache - especially when you think about the mess of triangles a stl is and how someone will need to pick the edges of them to represent the boundaries of each colour (thus why it helps to have a physical lip/feature around each coloured area, if you want them to colour).
VRML files have colour info as well as the geometry but Inventor cannot export directly
ZCorp models are ace for rough concepts but aren't really a functional plastic-like result. The process is pretty much the gluing and colouring of powder, so of course it's not going to be smooth or strong.
For a 2 colour model with a good finish then I'd look at the Object machines. They can print in 2 materials (usually a plastic and rubber) and even a blend of the 2 to give a range of shore hardness and colour gradation. I don't think you can get a red colour, but they should be able to have black and white (or grey) printing together to give something similar to your images. Have a look at them. As for providing a file suitable for them - think I've used a multipart step file, but can't remember for sure...
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