In a perfect world, all meshes would be perfect solids. But in reality, the meshes we want to print are full of overlapping self-intersecting shells, floaty bits, cracks and other problems. We've done a lot of work in our slicer to handle these cases properly.
single shell Paths
With our slicer, you can use open "sheet" meshes to directly specify the exact paths you want printed. You can clip these paths against the print solids, or clip the solids against them, to create embedded fins and ribs. This is a great way to design interior or exterior structures that push the limit of 3D printing, without having to write your own GCode.
Branching Support Structures
We have a bit of experience with branching support structures that aim to minimize print time and wasted material. In Cotangent we've designed a completely new way to do this that is lightning fast and does a fantastic job of "wrapping" your print in reliable supports. Optimized for our slicer, but also exportable to any other.
Generated Slicer Supports
Our Slicer can generate your standard back-and-forth peel-off support...except ours tend to peel off better. We've also done quite a bit of work on "support perimeters" which do a better job of supporting thin parts. These work particularly well on mechanical parts.
Generated supports are great for most situations, but sometimes you really need the control available by designing your own custom support volumes. With our slicer, you can tag any mesh as support and it will be automatically clipped against the print solids, then printed with the standard support perimeter and infill settings.
Any solid object in Cotangent can be tagged as a Cavity. When you do this, the part is subtracted from overlapping print solids. It's like a Boolean, but computed at slice time, so you can tweak manufacturing constraints without having to round-trip to your CAD tool. Or, you know, just make holes in stuff.
Ever print just a part of your design, to test fit or print quality without waiting for the full print? We do it all the time, and it's super-annoying to have to to back to CAD just to do the cropping. So instead you can tag any mesh as a crop volume, and the crop is computed during slicing. So obvious you'll wonder how you lived without it...
clearances and Offsets
The tolerances of 3D printing are complicated, which means when you want to print a design that fits together, you often have to do multiple iterations, going back to CAD each time to tweak offsets and thicknesses. But for many common situations, we can do this at the slicer level. So, you can tag objects with a minimum clearance distance, or add an offset distance, and we'll sort it out in the slicer.
Normally Brim is something you turn on and off in your print settings. But then you really don't have any control. So instead we added a Brim generator that creates a mesh you can edit.
Prints go wrong for lots of reasons, from incorrect GCode to mechanical problems. But one of the most common ways a print actually fails is a nozzle clog. For many prints these clogs happen because there's just too much retraction and travel relative to the amount of material being extruded. Adding a Purge Spiral can help to clear out the nozzle between layers and keep things flowing smoothly.