Netfabb Studio tutorial

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1 Introduction

“netfabb Studio is a software tailored for additive fabrication, rapid prototyping and 3D printing. It includes the ability of viewing, editing, repairing and analyzing stl-files or slice-based files in various formats.”. The version called Netfabb Studio Basic (as of fall 2010) is free and it runs under Windows / Linux and MC. For Linux, you should have OpenGL support.

Netfabb Studio is a must have tool for 3D printing, e.g with the RapMan, the fabbster or the Felix

Other versions:

Two parts in Netfabb (2010 edition, the 2012 edition is very similar

See also:

2 Base functionalities


In any 3D drawing programs you can change your view of an object. This can be achieved mainly through mouse gestures

  • Rotation of the view (not of the object): Right-Mouse-down
  • Zooming in: Mouse wheel or ctrl-right-mouse-down
  • Panning: Middle mouse down.

In addition, you can set predefined Views of the scene either through icons on the tool bar or the View Menu. This is a very useful feature, if you want to quickly check whether the x-y-z positions are ok.

In order to "see" where the print will go in x-y-z space, I also suggest turning on the "platform view" with Menu: View->Show Platform. This does not represent the print platform, the x=0,y=0 corner of the by default "yellow" platform is on the lower left. In a RapMan printer the x=0, y=0 is in the middle of the print bed. In other words, we suggest putting your object near the lower left corner, or put more simple. The center of your object should be fairly close to x=0,y=0. Obviously the bottom (and not the center) of your object must be z=0.

2.2 Positioning, rotation and resizing

Parts are manipulated either through icons on the tool bar, the Parts menu or shortcuts

Positioning and scaling

Positioning is really easy because one can quickly choose a view from one of seven views (e.g. top, bottom, left, right, front, back) and then either move the object or drag a corner of the (green) bounding box rectangle.

For precision work, e.g. align to z=0 one can use pop-ups in the Part menu or some shortcuts:

  • Move: Ctrl-V
  • Rotate: Ctrl-D
  • Scale: CTRL-S

2.3 Simple Mashup example - duplos for grown ups

See also: OpenScad beginners tutorial and Doblo factory

2.3.1 Getting and aligning the parts

Get a ready made duplo without caps
Open in Netfabb
  • Project -> New
  • Project -> Open the .STL file
Create 3D text
  • Click on the "Create Primitives Icon" (second to the left)
  • Set Height to and depth to 2.0 or 3.0 mm
  • Double click on Text and enter a letter, e.g. "Y" (read the next item about "webdings")
  • Change the Font to Webdings (double click), select bold and select size = 72
  • Click on Apply.
Writing 3D text with webdings in netfabb

Use each of the seven views to align and make sure that the symbol will be on top.

3D text DUPLO aligned in Netfabb
Note on finding/selecting webdings

2.3.2 Merging the parts

Export the two parts for merging
  • Since you can't do this in the free Netfabb version, you will have to export both parts
  • Menu->Part->Export Part; Select .STL (ascii)
  • Now save the whole thing as Netfabb project (Project->Save), in case you did something wrong.
Merge with Meshlab

Import both exported parts to Meshlab (download) and merge layers. Meshlab is a really difficult program, but merging two layers is very easy (see the Meshlab for RapMan tutorial for some more details if you like).

  • Menu: File->Import Mesh (first part)
  • Menu: File->Import Mesh (second part, order doesn't matter)
  • Menu: Filters->Layer and Attribute Management->Flatten Layers

Don't try to understand anything and just leave the suggested default boxes checked.

  • Menu: File->Export As (select STL)
  • Call the file something like duplo-symbol.stl
Clean up the .STL

This step may not be necessary, but it is better to make sure that mesh merge went ok.

  • Import the combined duplo-symbol.stl to netfabb
  • Then clean it up by pressing the "+" button.
  • Click on "automatic repair"
  • click on Apply repair
  • Now export again as part: Menu->Part->Export Part. You can overwrite the duplo-symbol.stl since it may be broken anyhow.

2.3.3 Printing with the RapMan

  • Now you can import the fixed .STL file to skeinforge
  • Recommended settings for our Rapman v3.1 (have to check this a bit more):
- Carve -
Layer thickness                 = 0.4 (0.45 is sort of ok)
- Speed - 
Feed rate (head spead)          =  16
Flow rate setting (RPM/10)      = 450 to 500 (this is a lot, but it's for the top)
Perimeter feed and flow rates   = 0.9 to 1.0 (0.9 will make it more precise)
- Temperature -
Base, Interface, support        = 238
All others                      = 247
- Fill -
Solid surface thickness         = 0.4
- Raft -
Base Layer thickness            = 2.5
Base Feed Rate Multiplier       = 0.90
Interface Layers                = 2  
Nozzle lifts (all three)        = 0.35
Various attempts to get the yellow bricks right, sometimes in Spring 2010.

The ones that have ugly walls were printed with a too high layer thickness and too little flow rate .... Warning: This setting squeezes down layers, so stay next to your printer. It may get stuck on something that would stick out.

2.3.4 Printing with the fabbster

We suggest to use our "Uma" style (or if you have sticks, any detailed official build style)

Printing with the "fat" 0.25mm Uma style (Spring 2012)

2.3.5 Printing with the Felix

Default style should be ok, but you can make the layers a bit fatter. The picture below shows our very first print ever with the Felix. That means that results could be improved. Our first RapMam print looked more like a bird's nest and it was supposed to be a little cup.

First print with the Felix (June 2012)

2.4 Cleaning the STL

Cleaning of .STL files is an absolute must and this software usually does a great job. Click on the red "plus" sign, use default repairs, then commit and remove the old part.

2.5 Export to STL

In the free version, you only can export a single object (part) as .STL. Use the free Meshlab to merge several objects (see the example above) or buy the Netfabb Pro version :)

If you are a programmer, using OpenScad to position and to merge .STL objects (or other formats) is an option you should consider.

3 Links