Moon in the Palm of Your Hand

Space is a popular topic around the house. We build Lego spaceships, we create video games about space travel, the whole family crowds onto the couch to watch SpaceX launches (provided they happen before bed time), and inumerable conversations come back to the expanse, scale, and content of space.

I’ve been scouring Thingiverse, Shapeways, and 3D modeling sites looking for good
planetary models, and happened upon a model of the moon with accurate cratering by Dexter_New_Materials. This looked like a great model for teaching, playing, and exploring.

This was just around the time that PrusaControl was released, and I decided to try it out with this model. Some things worked well: material estimations and model print time estimates looked accurate (and high: 20+ hours for a full scale and quality print). Some things worked not so well. Or not at all: PrusaControl locked up trying to slice this model, and I eventually gave up on debugging and switched over to Slic3r PE.

I opted to print a lower quality, scaled down version of the model to see how it
looked once printed. The normal size of the model has an approximately 20cm diameter (just barely fitting into the print volume of the Prusa i3 mk2), so I scaled down 50% to about a 10cm diameter. That, combined with a hollow shell, resulted in just over 3 hours of print time.

The lack of inner structure, and the low print quality, made the poles of the moon
a bit messy; gaps, strings, and rough edges. This model is an excellent candidate
for trying out Smooth Variable Layer Height layer editing in Slic3r PE – printing the layers near the poles at a finer layer height will help smooth and correct the messiness. The rest of the model looked good even at low quality, so there’s no need to print the entire model at high quality. Using Smooth Variable Layer Height should give us the best of both worlds; a quick print with detail where it’s needed.

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