NovaSpider Tutorials

Tutorial Nº1:

Introductory Melt-Electrowriting (MEW) Guide to G-code Generation

In the ever-evolving world of 3D printing, precision and innovation reign supreme. That’s where melt-electrowriting (MEW) technology steps in, and at the forefront of this revolution is the NovaSpider – your gateway to a new era of 3D printing. With this NovaSpider melt-electrowriting (MEW) guide to g-code, you’ll unlock the potential of G-code generation for MEW aplications using open source tools for a truly transformative experience.

Today, we invite you to embark on a journey that unveils the intricacies of MEW and introduces you to a groundbreaking workflow that empowers you to harness its potential fully. Welcome to the NovaSpider Workflow, where imagination meets precision, and digital dreams are crafted into tangible creations.

In this comprehensive melt-electrowriting (MEW) guide to g-code, we will navigate through every facet of the MEW g-code generation process using NovaSpider, demystifying the complex to make 3D printing more accessible and exciting than ever before. Whether you’re an industry professional seeking cutting-edge solutions or an enthusiastic researcher ready to take your 3D printing game to the next level, this post is your ultimate roadmap.

Buckle up as we dive deep into the world of NovaSpider, unlocking the secrets to mastering MEW technology and transforming your 3D printing projects into works of art. Are you ready to embark on this extraordinary journey? Let’s begin!

Empowering Your MEW Journey with Open Source Tools

In today’s ever-expanding world of 3D printing, innovation knows no bounds. What if we told you that you can embark on your Meltelectrowriting (MEW) adventure armed with powerful tools that are not only effective but also free and open to all? In this tutorial, we will introduce you to a world of possibilities where every step of the MEW 3D Printing G-code Generation process can be achieved using open-source applications. We’ll delve into the significance and numerous advantages of harnessing these tools, giving you the freedom and flexibility to craft your MEW masterpiece without constraints.

Tutorials and tips for MEW
Block diagram to generate G-code for melt-electrowriting (MEW)

Step-by-Step Melt-Electrowriting (MEW) Guide to G-Code.

Welcome to the world of MEW 3D printing with NovaSpider, where precision and innovation unite to create stunning 3D printed masterpieces. In this comprehensive melt-electrowriting (MEW) guide to g-code, we’ll walk you through the intricate process of generating G-code tailored specifically for MEW applications.

Step 1: Identifying Project Requirements

Before we delve into G-code generation, it’s crucial to identify the specifications of your desired MEW sample. This involves collecting essential data regarding materials, geometry, morphology, and other factors that influence the MEW process.

Step 2: Choose Your Path

Once you’ve gathered your specifications, there are two possible paths to follow, depending on the geometry of your desired sample:

Path 1: Standard 3D Printer Slicer

The path you choose depends on your sample’s geometry needs. If your desired geometry is available in standard 3D printer slicers, you can follow this path:

    1. CAD Modeling: Create a 3D model representing your sample’s volume and save it as an STL file.
    2. Slicing: Select your preferred Slicer from the wide array of options available.
    3. Import your STL file, ensuring that its geometry matches the desired volume you intend to achieve.
    4. Get rid of the shell.
    5. Select a fill pattern that aligns with the grid you intend to create from the various default options provided by the software. Ensure that you adjust the parameters to suit your specific requirements accordingly.
      • When it comes to optimizing your G-code, you can adjust several critical parameters such as flow rate, temperature, speed, nozzle diameter, and wall settings to match your specific needs. However, for a streamlined and effective printing process, I recommend following these steps:
      • Remove Unnecessary Commands: After generating your G-code, review it using a text editor and eliminate any commands unrelated to the path movements. This simplifies the code.
    6. Strategic Placement: Include the essential commands at the beginning and end of the G-code file. Additionally, insert them at precise points within the program where they are necessary (if required).

Path 2: Customized Structure

For cases requiring a completely customized structure, we recommend using the unconstrained FullControl GCode Designer:

FullControl offers unparalleled freedom in designing the print path and print settings. Unlike conventional software, FullControl lets you design every aspect of the print path, providing you with the creative freedom to achieve your vision.

Other alternatives for this aproach are using vectorial design CAD such as the open source InkScape or ilustrator. After creating your design you can use specific plug-ins to convert your vectorial drawing into a G-code path.

Design Your Print Path with FullControl

FullControl’s approach to G-code generation is unique. Instead of following the traditional method of creating G-code from a CAD model, FullControl allows you to explicitly design the print path. Think of it like being handed a hotmelt glue-gun and designing the paths to create your 3D print manually. FullControl lets you design and preview these paths, converting them into machine-code instructions for your 3D printer.

FullControl introduces the concept of “state,” which encompasses any property that can change during the printing process, such as speed, temperature, and fans. This state-based approach offers unparalleled control over the printing process.

Step 3: Finalize Your G-code

Regardless of the path you choose, the final steps are common for both alternatives:

  1. Adapt Slicer Parameters: Modify slicer parameters to align them with the needs of your fiber structure. This may include controlling flow rate, speed, and other relevant parameters. I strongly recommend removing any commands unrelated to the path movements during a post-processing step of your generated G-code using a text editor. After that you should include the necessary commands at the beginning and end of the G-code file, as well as at precise intervals within the program where they are required (if needed). This
    approach ensures that there is no interference with your intended printing process. For this propose You can use the open source Brackets or any alternative text editor.
  2. Stabilization area: Consider enabling a stabilization region that is printed on one side before the system proceeds with the final sample. The primary aim here is to ensure that the stable fiber is being smoothly generated before initiating the printing of the region that needs to be perfect. Depending on the material and various environmental factors, this stabilization phase may require several minutes to ensure the printing process attains the desired level of stability.
  3. G-code Optimization for NovaSpider: When adapting the G-code for NovaSpider, ensure you:
    • When preparing your G-code, it’s important to streamline the Z-axis movements. If you’re using a pneumatic extruder, also think about
      reducing unnecessary extruder motions. During the G-code generation, ensure that the Z-axis increment for each layer is appropriately set,
      often around 10 micrometers or matching the expected fiber diameter. Structures usually don’t change much in the Z-coordinate, so even removing
      this movement won’t significantly affect the final print quality but can simplify the code and save time.
    • Add commands with conservative values to control process parameters such as voltage and distance.
    • Simulate the print using tools like the open source NCViewer to ensure it’s error-free.

Step 4: Prepare Your NovaSpider Printing Station

Now that you have your optimized G-code, it’s time to prepare your MEW printing station, specifically the NovaSpider:

  1. Connect and Access: Connect your computer to NovaSpider and access its web interface.
  2. Bed Preparation: Level and adjust the bed’s zero position for precise printing.
  3. Material Setup: Prepare a clean cartridge with the desired material and preheat it for at least 20 minutes to ensure the temperature is homogeneous.
  4. Simulate the Print: Run a simulation to verify the printing process without voltage and extrussion.

Step 5: Test and Parameter Optimization

With everything in place, you’re now ready for the testing and parameter optimization phase:

  1. Load G-code: Load the optimized G-code program through the NovaSpider’s user interface.
  2. Observe and Adjust: Run the program and closely observe its behavior.
  3. Iterate: Modify the relevant parameters to optimize the printing process. Repeat this process as needed.
  4. Save Parameters: Once you’ve achieved the desired results, save the chosen parameters within the G-code.

Step 6: Success!

Congratulations, you’ve now created an optimal G-code program tailored for your specific MEW application with NovaSpider. With precision and creativity at your fingertips, the possibilities in 3D printing are limitless. Happy printing!

SEM image of a PCL melt electrowriteing (MEW) structure following a 10 layer square grid Patern (J.Latasa y C.Tollan at CIC nanoGUNE)
SEM image of a PCL fibrous sample created using melt electrowriting (MEW). 10 layer square grid pattern (J.Latasa y C.Tollan at CIC nanoGUNE)

Last updated on September 1st, 2023 by
Javier Latasa Martinez de Irujo
Mechatronic Design | Electrospinning | R&D Projects | PMP®