How to Determine Printed Model Volume

How to Determine Your Model’s Printed Volume with CatalystEX

Using CatalystEX 4.4

This tutorial will introduce you to the CatalystEX 4.4 interface, specifically how to navigate the software and how to obtain your 3D model’s total material volume. This is the last step prior to print submission. CatalystEX can be accessed from computers running Windows in the Design Computing Lab (DCL), 283 Lawrence Hall.

Step 1

General Tab: Go to “File > Open STL” to open your model in the CatalystEX environment. It will default in the position shown to the left.

In the Properties window (right), set each category to the following:

  • Layer Solution: 0.0100 (default)
  • Model interior: Sparse – low density
  • Support fill: Sparse
  • Number of copies: 1 (default)
  • STL units: Inches or Millimeters (use model units)
  • STL scale: 1.0 (default)

Note: This ensures your estimated volume (thus the estimated cost) will be as accurate as possible.

Step 1 screenshot

Step 2

Orientation Tab: This is where you will orient your model to minimize material usage, cutting costs and maximizing time. Use the “Auto Orient” button at the top right to do this.

For manual control, use the options below to move the model along a certain axis at a designated angle or select model faces as the “Bottom,” “Top” or “Front.”

Use the “View” buttons to observe your model at given instances, or navigate around your model three dimensionally using the mouse’s left button. Hold Shift to pan.

Navigate to CatalystEX 4.4 in the Programs folder. This software package is only provided in the Windows operating system on the DCL desktop computers.

Step 2 screenshot

Step 3

Orientation Tab (Continued): After orienting your model properly, click the “Add to Pack” button at the bottom on the screen. This will process your model into print layers (see image). Red is model material, purple is support material.

By clicking “Add to Pack,” your model is automatically placed in the Pack tab environment, where you will obtain your model’s volume. If you want to merely process your model to visualize the material layers, use the “Process STL” button to left of “Add to Pack.”

Step 3 screenshot

Step 4

Pack Tab: This tab shows a virtual top view of the printer tray with your model as a silhouette. Your model is placed in the center by default.

Navigate to the Properties window to the right. Here you will find your model’s volume (as both model and support material), as well as the estimated time it will take to build only that model.

To achieve your print’s estimated cost, add the two volumes together and multiply by price per cubic inch.

Example: (0.11 in3 + 0.32 in3) x ($10/in3) = $4.30

Catalyst step 4 screenshot