The appearance of the H-Series may be intimidating to some users, but it is important to note that most of the new features of this design have been developed to improve ease-of-use. From the clean, intuitive layout of the touchscreen interface, to automatic bed leveling, to many aspects of the mechanical design, this machine was engineered with the user in mind.
Software for any new machine is always a concern, especially for one with added complexity and functionality. But the H-Series toolchain is no cause for concern, as all the software is either off-the-shelf and well-known, or straightforward and open-source. There are four primary software elements in the H-Series toolchain:
- Machine control interface
- Additive toolpath generation (slicer)
- Subtractive toolpath generation (CAM)
- H-Series post processor
1. Machine control interface
Much of the magic of the H-Series functionality is baked into the firmware. A developer is working full-time to customize the interface and functionality of the H-Series Controller (HSC) interface for Diabase. This software/firmware is based on the Duet WiFi controller, and the HSC fork will remain open-source going forward. There are a vast number of useful features offered by the controller:
- WiFi connectivity with interface from computer, tablet, or smartphone
- Automatic software bed levelling
- Scripts to automatically configure additive or subtractive toolheads
- Scripts to automatically configure 4th and 5th axis machine setups
- Routines and walkthroughs to calibrate tools, including using a Vision probe
- 3D scanner interface and walkthrough
- Setpoint control of cabinet humidity
- Walkthrough of rotary printing setup
- Optional pendant for dial-controlled axis position
- On-the-fly adjustment of extrusion, speed, temperature, retraction settings, spindle speed, and much more
- The control and adjustment of virtually any setting or feature of the H-Series machine
All open-source. Any updates to HSC will be freely available and installation is dead-simple.
2. Additive toolpath generation
We use Simplify3D to generate toolpaths for printing operations. It is possible to have any number of processes in S3D utilizing 5 tools (and more, in the future). There is nothing special or proprietary about the configuration in Simplify3D, and we provide .factory files in the online Manual, as well as tips and instructions for generating your own processes for the H-Series. The g-code output from Simplify3D can go directly to the H-Series machine and it will print just fine. However, we offer a post-processor (also open-source and freely available) described in more detail below, which speeds up and controls ooze for multi-material prints. .
3. Subtractive toolpath generation
Fusion360 offers an excellent CAM package at an affordable price (often free). It is extremely user-friendly, allowing point-and-click programming of all features. (You do not need to learn any G-code to program this machine.) We offer a post-processor that can be loaded into Fusion360 so that the output file is compatible with the H-Series Controller. This allows you to control tool changes, spindle RPM, part orientation (for 4 and 5 axis work), and chip-clearing air jets using standard controls within Fusion360. We will also provide models of the standard H-Series workholding setups with appropriate axes, planes, and tool libraries already defined. In this way, you will be able to interact with Fusion360 much like you would with Simplify3D. The model can be imported into a workspace that is preloaded with all of the relevant machine properties so that toolpaths can be quickly generated.
4. H-Series post processor
Diabase offers and maintains an open-source gcode post processor to ease and automate a number of functions:
- Preheat: for multiple-material prints, the next tool that will be called is raised from its standby temp to its active temp X seconds before the current tool is finished
- Hybrid operations: a walkthrough to combine print and CAM files for multi-sided and Hybrid operations
- Rotary printing: unwrap .stl files for slicing in Simplify3D, then convert Simplify3D output to A-axis rotary print surface
- Upload files directly to your machine
We will continue to add functionality and ease-of-use improvements over time, and these new versions will always be available from the H-Series online Manual.
There is no substantial custom software required for the H-Series. Most of the functionality is integrated with the controller firmware, so it does not require any interaction from the user. Configuration files are available for both of the primary toolpath generation programs (Simplify3D and Fusion360). The standalone H-Series gcode processor is a straightforward program to optimize gcode files for use with the H-Series, and will remain free and open source forever.