Each day that goes by in the 3D Printing industry brings better prices and higher quality. This year’s Black Friday – a retail tradition that offers the best discounts to kick off Holiday shopping – was no exception! Resin printers are at the forefront in 2019, leaving software developers – like CBD-Tech – scrambling to catch up. FDM (fused deposition modelling) offers a plethora of software tools that provide a universal output file, G-code. FDM-style 3D printers use files created this way to produce prints.
In contrast, this is not so in the realm of Resin-based machines. Each printer has its language. As a result, the team at CBD-Tech has been working to provide a one-stop-shop to counteract the restrictive trend. ChituBox is their answer, and the latest version (1.6.1) is a giant leap forward in progress. Come with me as I take this slicer software “out of the box” and unpack all it has to offer.
Step one – ChituBox Installation
This first step is relatively simple. Make your way through the interwebs to ChituBox’s website. Next, select your Operating System (OS). ChituBox supports Windows 32-Bit, Windows 64-Bit, Mac, and Linux. I run Windows 64-Bit on a custom-built PC. Therefore I went with that. After you have your OS selected, click the large blue bar. Then, the rest of the process is like any other bit of software installation. Find the location where you downloaded the file (should be named “CHITUBOX[your OS]Install_1.6.1”), and run the program.
ChituBox A Cornucopia of Improvements
ChituBox 1.6.1 provides some, if not the most, important updates in it’s history with this release. Here’s a quick overview of all the changes listed for the release, according to CBD-Tech:
- Added ctb,phz,svgx slice file format
- New printers added to the machine list:
- Included more recommended resin profiles
- Added indicator colour for model and platform contact surfaces
- Implemented a pop-up window when the imported model is too small
- Added the time display function of editing support
- XYZ coordinate indication map added
- Added small pillar support menu option
- Implemented an underlying preview function of the slice layer
- Added confirmation pop-up to remove all supports
- Partial repair function now included
- Optimised the definition of support density
- Compatibility of drag bar fonts optimised
- Optimised API definitions for plugins
- Bug Fixes:
- corrected where the slice layer was broken in some cases
- eliminated where manual support could not be added in some cases
- where the model displayed abnormally when zooming in on the window
- corrected how the progress bar close button was occluded in the case of a small window
- Fixed partial translation in Italian
- Bold the rotating and dragging sliders
- Cancellation of the restriction of the mutual conduction slice parameter between different printers
In summary, ChituBox stepped up their game in this update!
Step 2 – Setting Up for Your Printer
I set myself up for successful printing after I installed ChituBox 1.6.1. This meant opening up the settings and selecting the profile for my printer, a Longer Orange 30. If you don’t own one of the 19 printers, CBD-Tech has created profiles for, select “Default” as the printer. From here, you will need to enter the parameters for your specific printer manually. For me, everything was ready to go at this point, including pre-loaded profiles for Longer resin.
The information entered on the “Print” tab is just as important as what is keyed in on the “Machine” tab. This is where your print can “make it or break it”. Layer Height will determine the vertical quality of your print. In the case of my Orange 30, I can go as low as 0.025. That’s four times the detail of the most common FDM-style printers! Next, we have the bottom layer count. This is just like the “top and bottom layers” settings when using a filament, like PLA or PETG. ChituBox set mine to 6 layers.
After that, we have exposure times. The Bottom Exposure Time will help ensure your print sticks to the build plate. ChituBox had this set to 80 seconds for the Orange 30. Most printers should be set somewhere between 60-90 seconds. The regular Exposure Time will determine the sharpness of the details on the print. Set this too short, and your prints will fail because the layers won’t adhere to each other. Set it too long, and your prints will come out looking like you had your camera focus set incorrectly, causing everything to look blurry.
Finally, we have the remaining settings on the right-hand side, dealing with lift distance and speed. These settings will vary, depending on your particular printer. ChituBox had both lifting ranges set to 2mm, Bottom Lift Speed set to 48mm/min, and Lifting Speed set to 150mm/min for the Orange 30. I recommend checking with social media groups for your specific printer to get settings that will maximise quality, reduce failure likelihood, and provide efficient printing times.
A better experience from ChituBox 1.6.1 changes
Support is on the way!
I listed the significant improvements CBD-Tech added earlier, but how do they impact what you will do every day? To begin, let’s talk about supports. This is probably the most crucial feature aside from proper exposure settings in improving the likelihood of success for each print. Look at the images supplied from CBD-Tech below; the minimum support density increased between 1.5 to 1.6.1.
In addition to better supports, several ChituBox features now make it easier to manage your workflow. I love that I can now validate when the model is touching the build plate. Click “Put on the plate” under the movement menu and the face touching it will light up green. Also, the XYZ indicator in the lower left of the workspace now aligns with any rotation made; keeping you from getting too disoriented. Lastly, the on-screen sliders for rotation were made bolder, for more straightforward operation.
Not to be overlooked…
Some features in ChituBox 1.6.1 seem insignificant or fall in the “rarely utilised” category. However, they are just as valuable to those I listed above. I like the “plugin” feature the most. Without this, I would not be able to say CBD-Tech is offering a “one-stop-shop”! Plugins allow resin printer companies to provide the ability to slice to their native file format (lgs for Longer) inside of Chitubox. Furthermore, they added in a “safety” feature in the settings to prevent slicing parameters creating conflicts. This usually occurs when attempting to import a profile from one brand of the printer into another.
Step 3 – Let’s print something!
Finally, we get to the fun part! With ChituBox open, load an STL or OBJ file you want to print. Since we are nearing the most beautiful time of the year, I chose a “jolly” little Dwarven Santa by Lance Wilkinson of Epics ‘N’ Stuffs Miniatures. I changed his scale to 200% and rotated him to a 45° angle. I then used two very cool features for saving a bunch of resin. First, I hollowed out the model. Then, I dug two holes at the bottom to allow for the excess resin to drain out. My final step was adding supports. While I won’t go into the details here, it’s important to note that you should make sure there are no “islands” on your print before you slice it. The last picture in the slideshow is an example of what an “island” looks like.
* Please note, I am not an expert when it comes to adding supports. I used settings that have worked for me in the past. You may have your thoughts or need to do your research here to get a “perfect” print *
Slice it and go!
After I adjusted some of the supports and deleted others, I clicked “Slice” and watched the magic happen. Once the process was complete, I exported the sliced model to the .lgs format that my Orange 30 reads. Then, I copied the file to my USB stick and plugged it into the printer. Roughly four hours later (yes, the actual time varied from what ChituBox estimated…. but what slicer doesn’t suffer from the same problem!?), I had a fantastic mini staring back at me. All that was left was to complete some post-processing. I washed Santa in 91% Isopropyl Alcohol, removed the supports, and cured him in a home-made station.
Final Thoughts on ChituBox
I appreciate those of you readers that have made it this far! While it is to be noted that a few users have voiced some concerns about their ability to effectively use the plugins feature, I have found that by carefully following instructions provided by CBD-Tech, most matters can be easily remedied. The company’s support through the challenges as version 1.6.1 has rolled out has been fast and friendly. I am confident that ChituBox is disrupting the Resin-based printing industry in a significant way. I’m also very excited about what future updates will provide.