Slicing G-Code curves from solid (not mesh) geometry.

  • So, Fusion 360 is getting FFF slicing capabilities soon. It appears that it will be able to slice solid geometry, like produced in CAD packages. Whether or not it outputs g-code curve commands is not known, but it seems promising.

    From here:

    alt text
    [...] we have been working on adding new AM technologies into Fusion 360, starting with Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). This new method of sliding and toolpath creation will be available for both Single and Dual nozzle printers within the Manufacture workspace. Autodesk is an innovator in non-planar 3D printing and for generating high quality top surfaces, and we plan on adding this functionality into Fusion 360 in the near future as well.

    I remember somebody mentioned KISSlicer was getting/has STEP file import capabilities. How is the progress on that?

    I bring this up, because I am very excited about the new era of FFF printing. I think the time for curves in g-code is soon. I think S-Curve acceleration or similar must follow, too.

    I'd like to hear what people's current thoughts on these matters are.

    I am approaching near-desperation to try s-curve acceleration, or an approximation, because I am reaching the limits of the balance of speed vs. quality. I, unfortunately, do not have the skills to code these solutions or I definitely would be trying. I've been trying for years to convince the people I know who can code to help with this but none have stepped forward.

    So... what do you think?

  • I am surprised at the pace that Fusion is changing, having just added pcb design/layout and circuit design. I think it will take them a few versions before they get anywhere near the full nuances of control that are offered for the current slicers out there unless they buy one of the current companies and integrate the existing slicing software.
    Certainly worth watching but I am not holding my breath.

  • @jens55 I agree and disagree. Fusion is changing fast -- sometimes too fast. Fine, cool.

    However, for FFF slicing, they already have absolutely everything they need to make it work: robust CNC toolpath creation. It's as simple as changing it to suit FDM.

    In reality, somebody could make their own post-processor and use fusion to slice FFF toolpaths today, kludging together multiple CNC toolpaths.

    I think the initial FFF offering in Fusion will be quite robust. I think it will have full customizeable support (thanks to their acquisition of NetFabb years ago). I know it will have support for two tools at the onset. I think it will be a fully functioning usable solution from day one (they seem to have been tinkering with this for some time now).

    Although, I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up pretty lame from the get go. We shall see. I have hope. I want to be an optimist.

  • While you have a point, I would suggest that getting a tool path is a relatively trivial task compared to all the other crap you have to take into account and control when trying to extrude a wet noodle in a controlled manner.
    We will see what happens.
    I had a look in my Fusion install and so far there is no preview (or I couldn't find it)

  • @jens55 No public preview yet. I only just now saw this page mention it.

    Beyond generating a toolpath, calculating the volume of filament required, and then outputting a series of g-codes... which special requirements is the slicer involved with in regards to wet noodles?

  • I can only point to Cura and the plethora of options and details you need to set to get a decent print for just single extruder.

    I don't really want to argue the point. Let's just say that Fusion has some big shoes to fill if they want to produce something that rivals the current slicers. I would much rather see them spending resources to make Fusion360 run on a Linux system. I currently have a windoze machine for the sole purpose of running Fusion which is a royal pain in the behind (no, I don't want to run a dual boot setup ... my Linux box is pure and shall remain that way!)

  • I would think a Linux build should be easy for them -- they already build for Mac OS.

    I don't think slicer needs all the "advanced" features that slicers like Cura and others have -- most of which are not used by the end user. The printer firmware is handling more of the finesse these days -- pressure advance, dyanamic acceleration adjustment, etc.

    IMO, the slicer should merely define the toolpaths, the printer firmware should determine how to bend reality to try and achieve the physically impossible task of replicating the toolpaths perfectly.

  • Moderator

    @jens55 said in Slicing G-Code curves from solid (not mesh) geometry.:

    no, I don't want to run a dual boot setup


    I think the magic of the slicer is in dealing with all the edge cases. How best to handle bridging, overhang walls, fan profiles, etc.

  • AFAIK, virtual box requires the guest operating system to be present. The only thing it gives me is that I don't have to reboot the machine in order to go to the windoze side ... at the cost of some speed.
    My 'issue' is with windoze and the guys in Redmond and the fact that I can't trust them as far as my old tired bones can throw them. Heck, even Fusion talks to the mothership and as long as they do that they are not getting near my main computer.
    I'd much rather use FreeCAD but of course it is nowhere near as full featured as Fusion and while Fusion is still available for free (only a question of time), I am willing to dedicate a computer to it.
    Yes, I have trust issues ....

  • Moderator

    @jens55 said in Slicing G-Code curves from solid (not mesh) geometry.:

    AFAIK, virtual box requires the guest operating system to be present.

    Present in the sense that it lives in a virtual hard drive file on the host OS file system.

    But you've made your point. Never the twain shall meet.

  • A more portable aproach to getting curves into gcode is probably meshing at high resolution and attempting to best fit curves to the resulting vector end points. You can have simple rules about maximum deviations etc.

    However what you are doing there is just a software version of what the compliance in your steppers, frame, and power transmission already does.

    With meshes to extract a contour you just need to deal with trangles and planes. With true curved surfaces you have a large number more special cases, making the program more vulnerable to coding errors. Not forgetting that the controller isn't analogue anyway, so facets will creap in at some point regardless of what you feed the duet.

  • f360 is autocad, just as meshmixer is autocad ... meshmixer is a slicer too .. check it out, not very good imo 😞

    looking at how some other players in the solid modeling did FFF slicing, solidworks for e.g., I doubt they will create curves and circles, G0/1 all the way

  • Not sure about 2D toolpaths, but when using 3D toolpaths most CAM-tools including f360 create a polygon mesh under the hood and uses that for toolpath and rest machining generation. It is computationally so much easier to intersect a polygon mesh with a ray or another mesh than intersecting a BRep model...

    To prevent a gazillion G1 segments, f360 allows you to optimize the toolpath with a given precision. I suspect they do some arc fitting and segment joinery there. I suppose they give you the same option when doing additive.

    All in all they have everything building block they need now. If rest machining can see where there is still material to remove, the inverse is also true. If they can determine whether the machining tool and holder intersects with the stock and possibly work around that, they can also do so for a printhead. And so on.
    What is left is handling the 'wet noodle' (in case of plastic). For that they can either buy the technology, or have a good look at the available codes and re-implement those.

  • Moderator

    @DaBit said in Slicing G-Code curves from solid (not mesh) geometry.:

    buy the technology

    They bought NetFabb a while ago.

  • @DaBit Ah, right... I forgot that most CNC machines want lots of little segments, not true curves...

    hmmm.. that's a bummer. Hopefully, at least, we can define the smoothing and tolerance to get those segments to be the exact right lengths for minimum step sizes of extruder and/or X/Y axes, whichever is lower.

    @arhi you mean AutoDESK? Lol... they bought meshmixer, they didn't make it. They put the parts they liked into fusion already: see the mesh workspace.

    But you're right, I now very much doubt they will generate curves. However, fusion 360 has an API -- perhaps someone could make a plugin to do so.

  • @bot said in [Slicing G-Code curves from solid (not mesh) geometry.]

    @DaBit Ah, right... I forgot that most CNC machines want lots of little segments, not true curves...

    Wrong.. CNC-machines want curves. It is the same as firmware retraction, firmware toolchanges, firmware pressure advance, etcetera. Tell the machine what you want, and let the machine sort it out. And they do a terrific job with blending the segments into a continuous constant-velocity (when CV mode is activated...) path that does not violate acceleration limits. I believe that smoothness would benefit 3D printers too.

    I can mill a piece of aluminium with rounded features completely smooth and shiny, and bores quite exactly to size. Most round printed things suffer a lot from faceting and dimensional inaccuracy. Crank up the STL resolution, and the printer is busy processing tens to hundreds of megabytes of very short segment code with a spike of 'infinite' acceleration at every segment joint.

    Why not just interpolate the arc and respect the accel limits? If it is a hole, give that firmware a hole to print (or at least a stack of circles) and let it sort it out. At least it can focus on creating the best shape that fits the arc instead of spending all it's cycles on SD-card access, parsing, and inserting insanely short line segments in the queue.

    If we could switch to splines, even better 😊

  • @DaBit but, I mean, the g-code is segments, and the machine interpolates curves? I have never used a CNC mill or anything, only a 3D printer of my making...

    I agree with the philosophy you laid out there. That's what I want.

  • @bot said in Slicing G-Code curves from solid (not mesh) geometry.:

    you mean AutoDESK?

    😄 yes

    they bought meshmixer, they didn't make it. They put the parts they liked into fusion already: see the mesh workspace.

    Mesh workspace in f360 is rather useless 😞 but isn't f360 also a purchased product, like meshmixer, netfabb etc etc... I think inventor was their own, dunno what they did with inventor as I see f360 being pushed instead of it

    But you're right, I now very much doubt they will generate curves. However, fusion 360 has an API -- perhaps someone could make a plugin to do so.

    I hope I'm not but I used a lot of cam tools and must say carving or printing it's always G0/G1... the only places I ever have seen curves

    • drilling holes
    • forming threads (not cutting but forming threads)

    and those are basically hand made macro's so someone manually wrote them for cam tool to just use a block of code ... now I have never used cam on those 12 axes fancy machines that cost more than my house but I kind of doubt fusion360 will be much different here. Let's hope they do, if nothing, to test how these bad boys actually handle curves 😄

  • @bot: A very simple example of curves and CNC: half of an ellipse.
    I did use 3D machining, because that is the most close match to 3D printing.

    The shape with a contour machining operation on it, sort of vase mode, but dumber.


    The code, well, part of it:

    N30 S5500 M3
    N35 G54
    N40 M7
    N45 G0 X-11.941 Y-2.03
    N50 G43 Z15. H55
    N55 G0 Z-0.239
    N60 G1 Z-2. F1200.
    N65 G3 X-10.745 Y-1.161 I0.418 J0.682
    N70 G1 X-10.75 Y-1.14
    N75 G2 X-9.389 Y3.788 I5.511 J1.129
    N80 X-5.224 Y6.596 I7.157 J-6.122
    N85 X3.136 Y7.212 I5.216 J-13.752
    N90 X8.884 Y4.382 I-2.11 J-11.539
    N95 X10.838 Y0.763 I-4.762 J-4.907
    N100 X9.022 Y-4.194 I-5.888 J-0.655
    N105 X4.654 Y-6.798 I-7.136 J7.003
    N110 X-6.811 Y-5.906 I-4.67 J14.086
    N115 X-10.089 Y-2.86 I4.467 J8.094
    N120 X-10.751 Y-1.162 I6.671 J3.579
    N125 G1 X-10.782 Y-0.985
    N130 X-10.815 Y-0.8
    N135 X-10.839 Y-0.64 Z-2.001
    N140 X-10.862 Y-0.449
    N145 X-10.876 Y-0.298 Z-2.002
    N150 X-10.891 Y-0.096 Z-2.003
    N155 X-10.897 Y0.105 Z-2.004
    N160 X-10.895 Y0.234 Z-2.005
    N165 X-10.892 Y0.395 Z-2.006
    N170 X-10.885 Y0.546 Z-2.008
    N175 X-10.872 Y0.731 Z-2.009
    N180 X-10.853 Y0.909 Z-2.011
    N185 X-10.828 Y1.096 Z-2.013
    N190 X-10.796 Y1.292 Z-2.015
    N195 X-10.755 Y1.498 Z-2.018
    N200 X-10.704 Y1.711 Z-2.021
    N205 X-10.651 Y1.912 Z-2.024
    N210 X-10.588 Y2.116 Z-2.028
    N215 X-10.516 Y2.328 Z-2.031
    N220 X-10.404 Y2.615 Z-2.036
    N225 X-10.303 Y2.844 Z-2.041
    N230 X-10.212 Y3.039 Z-2.045
    N235 X-10.066 Y3.318 Z-2.052
    N240 X-9.938 Y3.542 Z-2.057
    N645 X14.98 Y1.695 Z-2.983
    N650 X15.075 Y1.31 Z-2.988
    N655 X15.149 Y0.92 Z-2.991
    N660 X15.199 Y0.526 Z-2.995
    N665 X15.226 Y0.129 Z-2.997
    N670 X15.228 Y-0.269 Z-2.999
    N675 X15.206 Y-0.667 Z-3.
    N680 X15.163 Y-0.997
    N685 G2 X12.255 Y-6.262 I-8.719 J1.381
    N690 X6.936 Y-9.396 I-9.608 J10.227
    N695 X-4.087 Y-10.177 I-6.934 J19.678
    N700 X-11.708 Y-6.796 I2.938 J16.904
    N705 X-14.829 Y-2.476 I6.747 J8.161
    N710 X-13.393 Y5.01 I7.445 J2.453
    N715 X-9.026 Y8.501 I9.438 J-7.331
    N720 X-0.475 Y10.551 I8.587 J-16.962
    N725 X10.016 Y7.994 I0.754 J-19.714
    N730 X14.009 Y4.188 I-6.515 J-10.83
    N735 X15.175 Y-0.999 I-6.878 J-4.271

    It uses G2 arcs as much as it can. But circles can only be done in the XY/XZ/YZ plane, and that is why you see a whole stretch of G1 short segment code where the cutter ramps down in an arc (most of the 'green lines' between the 'blue lines')
    Thus, we won't get rid of the short segment code for these shapes.

    Another one: text, once again an automatic 3D machining operation (adaptive clearing):


    Once again a piece of code:

    N270 G2 X-20.43 Y-7.523 I0.241 J0.81
    N275 X-20.779 Y-7.028 I0.175 J0.494
    N280 G1 X-20.778 Y-6.626
    N285 Y7.108
    N290 G2 X-20.024 Y7.76 I0.559 J0.115
    N295 X-13.908 Y7.733 I2.674 J-84.969
    N300 G3 X-11.691 Y7.553 I2.199 J13.356
    N305 G1 X-7.796 Y7.555
    N310 X19.822
    N315 G2 X20.523 Y6.333 I-0.201 J-0.927
    N320 G1 X20.559 Y5.969
    N325 X20.561 Y5.615
    N330 X20.562 Y4.199
    N335 Y-5.651
    N340 G2 X20.768 Y-7.149 I-4.593 J-1.394
    N345 X20.022 Y-7.562 I-0.63 J0.256
    N350 X17.278 Y-7.517 I-1.247 J7.555
    N355 X11.16 Y-7.55 I-4.248 J216.39
    N360 X7.583 Y-7.534 I-1.755 J7.226
    N365 G1 X7.222 Y-7.551
    N370 X6.868 Y-7.549
    N375 X5.452 Y-7.547
    N380 X-1.184 Y-7.543
    N385 G2 X-4.139 Y-7.538 I-1.469 J4.827

    As you can see: when it fits the capabilities of the machine a lot of arcs are emitted, allowing the curves to be actually round instead of a faceted approximation. Nothing wrong with a faceted approximation; in the end it all ends up as 'facets' the size of a motor step or encoder count. But at least it reduces G-code size tenfold, and it allows the controller to spend way more CPU cycles on creating nice curves instead of figuring out how to connect the thousand dots that form an arc.

    Oh, and BTW, this resembles in no way decent CAM-code. Just synthetic, quick & dirty to give you an idea.

  • @DaBit Duuuude. Thanks for those g-code examples. This is interesting. I was already wondering how some of the crazy splines could be generated -- they can't!

    How can a spline be defined, anyway? Would it be nonsensical to attempt to create a g-code spline specification?

  • I must be clairvoyant or something -- Fusion just dropped the update with FFF toolpath creation. See y'all in a few weeks... I've got some exploring to do.

  • I just pulled it down as well. Looks promising at first glance. Now if I could figure out how to generate gcode instead of a 3mf file...

  • How are you guys getting this into your fusion install ?

  • @gtj0 lol... I just generated some toolpaths and they certainly do NOT look promising.

    I see no settings for "meshing" or smoothing/tolerance, and the supports are generated based on settings and it seems you can't edit them.

    We shall see how they improve it...

  • @jens55 I had to close down fusion, restart it -- then when I restarted it started downloading the update, then when its done you click retsrat fusion 360 (it's in the clock icon at the top right)...

    Then it's in the additive pane of the manufacture workspace.

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