The Cochrane Process; “The Other kind of Screen Printing” 12

Ever need a screen or mesh to give your project more aesthetic appeal? As long as it doesn’t need to be too terribly strong, I have come up with a way of quickly (and easily) making custom meshes and screens using Slic3r and a 3D Printer.

Here is what you do. First design the outline of your mesh in your 3D software. Make it a rectangle, circle or whatever you want.

Next extrude the shape in the positive Z direction by at least one layer height (normally 0.3mm to .5mm thick will do), See Illustration 1. It must be at least one layer thick to work; you can of course make it thicker than one layer, but as you’ll soon see there is really no need for that.

Illustration 1

If you want your mesh to have a nice border around it you’ll need to make one the thickness you want and then extrude it downward from the bottom of your model. If you don’t want a border, just make a small “post” or something and extrude it downward. The amount of extrusion here determines the thickness of the mesh you will end up with. I have been making this extrusion 1.5mm, which works out to about 4 layers. See Illustration 2.

Illustration 2

Basically we are going to take advantage of Slic3r’s “support material” function to get our screen. Export your’ model to an STL and load it into Slic3r. Note: you must use Slic3r 0.9.8 for this, 0.9.9 and above will generate a raft under the support material and the mesh won’t come out right.

In Slic3r’s “expert mode” navigate to “Print Settings” and then “Support Material”. Make sure “Generate support material” is checked. Change “Pattern” to honeycomb and set the “Pattern spacing” to the diameter you want the holes in the mesh to be (I use 2.5mm in my example).

Now navigate to “Infill” and change “Fill density” to 0. This will ensure that the actual mass of your object doesn’t print leaving only the honeycomb support material for the printer to work with.

Export your model to gcode and print it. Your printer should now print support material for a non-existent object, leaving you with a nice honeycomb mesh of support material behind.

I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful, if you’ve enjoyed it please share it with others!

IMG_20130624_203520   IMG_20130624_203558   IMG_20130624_203616

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