- Can I install this side by side with my standard Preform with out problems even though I can't use it since I have a Form 2? If so I could at least work on playing with the features pre-print and possibly enlist a Form 1+ owner to test some of my ideas.
Yes, just install both the normal and OpenFL editions of Preform – they should be fine existing side by side.
2 . Can a user of this set of tools use their own tool to generate custom flp files from scratch and feed them to the printer, thus skipping the need to create a 3D model and feeding that into preform to process.
Yep! Think of FLP files as a Form 1-specific version of gcode. The stipple2flp example creates an FLP file from scratch (loading in a CSV file of stipple locations and radii).
3 . Is there a good method for processing 3D models with Preform and then dumping them to flp files without printing them?
Unfortunately, the custom Preform release doesn't include virtual printing. If you have a printer, you can upload the files from Preform (without starting the print) then download them using
I agree that this isn't convenient (especially if you don't have a printer handy). Since the roadmap for OpenFL is going to be heavily influenced by suggestions from the public, I'll keep virtual printing in mind as a potential feature.
4 . Am I correct that the flp files would also allow me to edit the overcure amount and the number of overcured layers on a print?
You could certainly write a post-processing step that adjusts laser power and shuffles paths around.
Like I said above, think of FLPs as gcode – it's very low-level descriptions of what the machine should be doing, so you'll have to build up higher-level abstractions. One of example is
insert_pause_before, which finds a point mid-peel and adds a platform raise and pause.
5 . At some point in the process of going from 3D to flp I assume there is an intermediate step of 2D slices independent of control instructions and not processed into laser paths. Is it possible this could eventually lead to that step in the printing pipeline also being opened up to the public?
This is less likely. Our slicer and path planning is pretty deep in the guts of Preform and would be tricky to isolate; there may also be Business Reasons (TM) to keep Preform's secret sauce proprietary.
However, I'd love to see a pipeline that uses a different slicer plus OpenFL to convert to FLPs, and that definitely seems feasible. Keep in mind, calibration is different from printer to printer. OpenFL exposes
Printer.mm_to_galvo, which converts from real-space units to calibrated galvo coordinates.