Viewable XYZ Axis?

Not sure if I am missing something, though knowing the correct XYZ axis in preform is a bit of a guessing game for me. Is there a reason why preform does not display the XYZ axis in the UI like in Maya? I think it would really help if it did.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why you’d care. But I’m not egotistical enough to imagine that means there isn’t good reason. Can you explain why this would be important to the printing process?

The positioning of the object on the build platform is arbitrary with respect to the object’s coordinate system. You position and rotate the object in PreForm relative to the build plate (zero Z) but the actual X/Y/Z isn’t of any significance… where the part is on the build plate really doesn’t matter (unless you like to see the laser going, in which case you might put the part near the front of the build platform to maximize that effect. And PreForm does tell you which side of the build platform faces the front of the machine and which side faces the wiper).

As a longtime user of 3D modeling and building tools, I can offer some rather compelling reasons:

  • Pre-Form’s Scale popup window gives X, Y, and Z measurements, but it doesn’t identify these directions in the model window. The user has to guess or infer the XYZ orientation some other way, which limits the utility of the measurements if the user was using them to verify model attributes.
  • Pre-Form’s Orientation popup enables the user to rotate around the X, Y, or Z axis, but it doesn’t identify these directions in the model window. So the user is forced to guess (unnecessary trial and error) and potentially make mistakes if the current view of the model is ambiguous. One of my models is sensitive to orientation, but it has a spherical exterior so it’s inconvenient to visually verify whether Pre-Form changed its orientation appropriately.
  • A viewable XYZ axis “compass” is a simple-yet-useful feature that’s standard in all the commercial 3D printing software I know of: LDView and 3DManage from 3D Systems, Catalyst from Stratasys, even SDView from Solido. Omitting the 3D compass from Pre-Form poses an unnecessary inconvenience to those users who are already proficient with other software, particularly if they’ve learned to refer to it while preparing to print a model.

A 3D orientation compass is a standard feature in 3D modeling tools, 3D viewing tools, and 3D building tools, so @Edward_Peretti has a valid point: Why doesn’t Pre-Form display an XYZ compass like most 3D tools?

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Cheers VeryWetPaint, summed it up perfectly :slight_smile: I have been using preform for years, yet I still find myself going through all the rotation axis before getting the rotation direction I want. I have also found I need to look up the scale values in preform to recreate them in my stl export settings, though there is no visual axis in the UI that I can quickly look to.

Hmmm. There must be something very different about the workflow you guys employ and the one I use. I have never scaled anything in PreForm. If my model needs to be resized, that gets done in the CAD program on the source file, not in the CAM program.

I have had occasion to need to rotate a model around one particular axis while positioning it in PreForm, but the effort required to click the up/down arrow in one of the rotate boxes to see which way the model turns is trivial, and has been all that’s ever been needed to figure out which axis I wanted to use to rotate around.

My FDM slicer doesn’t have a compass rose either. I’ve been 3D printing for about 7 years now, the last 2 of which have included Form printers and I never noticed the lack of this visual “cue”. I have never wanted for or notice the lack of this in any of my 3D printing experiences.

I don’t ever scale my models in preform either, though if I want to re export from my 3d software using the same scale values I see in preform than it is handy to have the axis visualisation for that. Also when viewing the model in perspective view there is no way of telling where the x and y rotational axis is. It can be a little frustrating having to guess the rotation direction without having to switch to layout view each time…

Z axis runs up/down of course. If I remember right, X axis runs front/back (perpendicular to “FRONT” in Layout view) and Y axis runs left/right (perpendicular to “WIPER” in Layout view)…

I’m not understanding the comment you’re making re: scaling. Are you perhaps describing a process where you import a model in to PreForm, discover you can’t make it fit, so you scale it there until it does fit, and then you want to go back to the CAD program and make the same scaling changes there?

If so, I highly recommend you make a cube that is the size of the build volume and you can put that in a background layer in your CAD program to orient and size the object so that when you bring it in to PreForm all you have to do is generate supports and put it where you want on the build platform.

(Assuming I’m guessing correctly about what you’re doing) using a method like I describe here is more precise and arguably faster.

Then your prints are simply not accurate. To make them dimensionally correct, a combination of fine tuning x&y plus total part scaling is required.

see my post with gauge objects and calculator here:

I haven’t ever noticed a problem with my print accuracy. Though admittedly, I design with some increased tolerance to allow for a bit of printer dimensional variation. I started printing with FDM printers, which are much, much worse than the Form printers. With FDM prints, I’d do a separate machining step for surfaces and features that needed to be accurate.

I just checked a Form2 part that’s got a 19.5mm diameter open ended hollow tubular feature. Measured at the open end. It varies from 19.34 to 19.63mm in diameter.

It does seem that there is some variability in the accuracy of the Form printers. FL really should provide a tuning method to allow X and Y to be scaled so you can tune your machine for the minimum tolerance variation. It’s not like it’d cost them anything…

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