Lyforms Small-Scale Modern Era Kit Design Process

All Lyforms Small-Scale modern era kits and parts are designed in CAD software on a computer. For more information about CAD, click here.

  • Structures such as buildings and water towers are first designed as complete structures with the desired details.
    • Kits like SK003 start out as solid blocks without any details.
    • Details are digitally "carved" out of or added to the blocks.
    • Eventually, the blocks are "hollowed out" to create the structural walls.
  • After the structure design has been completed, it is then dissected into parts that will be assembled as the kit. This is done by cutting the structure into pieces in the CAD software.
    • One advantage of this method is that it allows for mistakes without wasting printing material - cutting errors can be "undone" in the CAD software.
  • The structure pieces are laid out in such a way so that they can be printed with minimal amounts of scaffolds. For example, the walls for buildings are usually printed flat rather than standing on their ends.
  • If an overhang is required, then support scaffolding is created in the CAD software to make them easier to remove.
    • Scaffolds in 3D printing are support structures that are printed to support parts that extend outward as part of the object being printed.
    • When the material is extruded by the 3D printer nozzle, it is heated at high temperatures and comes out as a melted, soft state.
    • This requires a support structure to hold the melted material in place until it has cooled.
    • Scaffolds are meant to be removed easily after the object printing has been completed, so they are usually very thin so that they can be cut or broken away with a hobby knife.
  • Once the structure pieces have been completed, they are saved into the STL file format on the computer.
    • STL is short for STereoLithography and has become an industry standard.
    • Saving as an STL file allows the object to be opened by any 3D printing service.
    • Interesting fact: when saved as STL files, the objects are converted into a series triangles because the triangle is the shape with the least number of sides.
    • If you were to look at an object after it has been saved as an STL file, it would look like the object built by a bunch of triangle shapes.
  • The STL files are then opened in slicer software so that it can be converted into the machine language that will be read by the 3D printer.
    • It looks like a series X, Y, and Z axis coordinates that tells the 3D printer where and when to move the printing nozzle and the build template in order to print the object.
    • It is much like the instructions that are used to program CNC machines to cut and carve objects from a blank piece of material.
    • However, it also includes instructions such as the amount of material to be extruded (thickness), when it is to be extruded (layers), nozzle and bed temperature changes.
    • Some even let you play a song when the print is completed!
  • After the files have been converted by the slicer software, they are saved onto a USB drive or and SD card.
    • You can also connect your computer directly to the 3D printer and print.
  • The files are then loaded onto the 3D printer and printed.
  • A typical structure piece takes form 30 minutes to 2 hours.
    • It all depends on the size of the piece, the amount of material used, and any special commands that may be included such as slowing down the print to allow more time for the material to cool before printing the next layer.
  • Lyforms Small-Scale has multiple printers which allows for more than one object or set of pieces to be printed at once.