The tools used in creating a printable model can differ depending on the data provided, but the basic steps of the process are outlined below.
1. Isolate the data to be printed
Subdividing data is easy to do in MicroStation by using either Clip Volumes or the Fence tools. These tools will clip out everything outside of a specified area or volume, and create a closed edge where the cut was made.
2. Scale the data
Most of the data that people work with is real world geometry, so they are designing and working to a real world scale. The output needs to be scaled down in the AEC world to fit the output device just the same way paper plots are scaled to fit the paper of the output device.
3. Convert the data into a closed volume
The original data that you start with should be converted into a mesh, solid, or surface before you begin to edit the model. If you begin with a group of data points or a set of contours, the Create Mesh tools can be used to convert the data into a mesh element.
4. Validate the model
Rapid prototyping machines require a watertight volume as input, which means that the data must be a closed volume with no holes. The model can include several different types of elements, as long as they create a closed volume. Depending on the input that was used, the element may have voids, overlapping faces, or the normals may not be consistent. Any of these can cause errors in the printed model, and should be fixed. Mesh models can be checked with the Mesh Audit tool in the Mesh Utilities toolbox.
5. Edit the model
This part of the process involves two steps that can be repeated with validating the model as many times as needed until the model is printable: repairing and remodeling.
Repair : Depending on what you found when validating the model, there may be voids, overlapping faces, or inconsistent normals within the model that need to be fixed. Mesh elements can be repaired with the Fill Mesh Voids and Change Mesh Normal tools.
Remodel : Some parts of the model will need to be remodeled slightly in order to be structurally strong enough to survive. The dimensions of attributes like wall thickness need to be increased to compensate for the weakness of the 3D Printing material.
6. Export the model for printing
MicroStation offers two methods to export data for rapid prototyping. The most common is STL export; this will create a mesh with a single color. The second method is with VMRL export, which will retain colors and bitmaps assigned to the different surfaces. Multiple solids, surfaces, and meshes can exist in a single export, but the different element types must intersect each other in order to create a single printed volume.