LuBan: Easy Way to Make Large 3D Prints!

Introduction

When I first heard about LuBan, I was skeptical. Not because of what it could do, but because of the purpose it would serve. LuBan was designed to split large print jobs into smaller sized chunks that make it easy to make GIANT prints on a typical (200mm x 200mm) print bed, .

I typically only print functional devices and things.  At times, I will mess around with 3DBenchies and other fun things to test a printer but I didn’t get into 3D printing for printing models.

This article will be the first in a series describing my trials, testing, and using LuBan to create print jobs.  I will go over some of the common application settings, using the application and printing LuBan jobs over a variety of printers.

What is LuBan?

luban moai fullsize

Like I had mentioned earlier, LuBan is an application for breaking about an STL file into ‘chunks’ that you can print easily on any printer.  You can define the size of the chunks for each axis, attachment method, and error correction.  Most people would look at this as an opportunity to print GINORMOUS things on their CR10 style printers.  I am going to go a different direction with my first LuBan print.  Let’s try and print some regular sized CR10 prints on a mini printer!

Not only does LuBan cut your print into smaller chunks, but it also adds alignment elements into your models to make assembly a breeze!

But Why Use a Mini Printer?

First of all, I typically try and stray away from main stream thought. Most importantly though, wouldn’t it be more fun to do something different?  Lots of people have started to get into 3D printing lately.  There are tons of people out there with smaller print beds that have been longing to make a giant figurines and other crazy things.  LuBan will be the key to open that door.

Getting LuBan

Alright, I want to get this out of the way now.  LuBan is NOT a free program.  The nice thing about LuBan is that you can download it freely and see how it works without actually paying for it.  I was given a free 6 month license to try this application out for these articles.  As of this date, you get a FREE one month trial.  If you want to purchase LuBan, it is $20USD for a one year license and an additional $10 for each year past that(up to 5 years).  A lifetime license will set you back $120USD.  If you are a student, they offer a free 6 month license.

Head to luban3d.com and click ‘Download LuBan‘ in the middle of the screen.  This will redirect you to a Dropbox page where you can select the correct download for your operating system.  After downloading the program, extract the zip file, and open it up!

To activate your copy of LuBan, you need to go to https://www.luban3d.com/license and choose your license option.  With LuBan open, go to ‘Help‘ from the menu bad and choose ‘About‘.  You will need to copy the entirety of the License ID into the web form from the link above.  Make sure to include the brackets {} and operating system type from the License ID as well.

It’s time to get ready to make some print job chunks!

Using LuBan

To start, I chose this Moai model from thingiverse as my first LuBan creation.  Of course, I chose to print the large one.  When choosing a model to 3D print, make sure that the model is solid.  I have noticed some strange things happen when dealing with hollow models.

luban menu meshAfter opening your model, go to the ‘Mesh‘ menu in the menu bar of the application and then choose ‘LuBan‘.  Select your unit of measurement, which should be millimeters.  This will open a new window with a few options.

Under the ‘Input‘ section, you can resize your model.  Changing one of the axis values adjusts the other three to keep the shape uniform to the original and keep it from skewing.

Let’s Output some Chunks!luban-menu

The ‘Output‘ section is where the magic happens!  This is where you set the program to configure the printable chunks.  To set this up for the Aladdinbox Skycube, I set the X,Y and Z to all be 100mm.  This cut the Moai head into 8 chunks.  You can also adjust and configure your alignment elements.  There are many different options, but I chose to use pyramid style plugs.  You can also adjust the tolerance of the alignment elements.  I chose -0.2, which gives you a slightly larger hole and smaller dowel.

When you are done, choose ‘Export Parts‘, choose a folder and LuBan will dump your model chunks and a whole bunch of other things into a folder named after the STL that you exported.

luban-cut-moaiNow What?

The files that you will need to print will be in the ‘filename_Print‘ folder.  They will all be labeled Part_xx.STL in numerical order.  If you chose to use dowels as your alignment method, the STL file for that will be there as well.  I chose to hold off on printing any dowels until I could get the other pieces printed and see how many I really needed.

I inspected all of the model files before printing to make sure there wasn’t any strange fragmentation.  All the files for the Moai figure came out great.  I found some interesting issues with a hollow item, so be sure to check your files after exporting from LuBan.

Get Printing!

Now’s the time for printing!  Pop all these files into your slicer of choice and get them to your printer.  A favorite slicer of many of the Inov3D team is Simplify3D, but I am a CURA fan.  If you have an Aladdinbox Skycube, you can get my CURA slicer profile from here.  Otherwise, just use whatever profile you normally would for your filament of choice and align them to get the best quality of prints on your build plate.

Once you print all of the pieces that are needed, next, will come the time for assembly!  This is where I will end this installment of my LuBan article series for now.  Next month I will document how I assemble and finish the Moai head.

I had a lot fun printing these.  Having a small printer, like the Aladdinbox Skycube, really limits what you can print.  There are other ways to slice objects into pieces for chunk printing, but I haven’t found any that are as easy to use as LuBan.  I really appreciate it’s powerful simplicity.   It is a pricey piece of software.  Depending on how often you will use it though, it could prove to be a valuable asset.

Be sure to check out the 3D Printing Software Deals section for active discounts and deals on any 3D printing software!

luban-moai-assembled
The LuBan’d Moai head temporarily assembled

 

 

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