I have a seemingly unique problem. I'm trying to design models that print with single extrusion walls and are not closed volumes. For example, a topographical map model printed on an edge. It has height and width, but no depth. I want the model to print with a single, non-closed extrusion per layer. Printing back and forth as it moves up the model.
When slicers cut up a model, historically each plane must result in a closed shape. The slicer then determines the tool path to create that shape. But what if, instead of a closed shape, the slice results in lines. No area or volume, just lines. Couldn't the slicer then create a tool path at each line?
Is there anything like this available anywhere?
Also, to be clear, I've been doing this 3D printing thing for a long time and know pretty well how slicers work and their resulting models. I've also been 3D modelling for a long time.
The simplest solution I can think of would be to modify a slicer or find a plugin or something that already does what I'm looking for. The second possible solution would be to find 3D software that can "extrude" an arbitrarily complex surface in such a way that normal slicing software with the "detect thin walls" setting enabled would result in a single extrusion resulting in the desired outer surface. I haven't found either in my searching.
The solution should work with nearly any extrusion width or any nozzle. You have a 0.4mm nozzle, you can print the part with wall widths anywhere from ~0.4mm wide to around 1mm. Your choice when slicing. If you have a 1mm wide nozzle, you could print the part with much thicker walls. It would be configurable in the slicer because the model only defines the surfaces, no volume data.
Like I said, this is a seemingly unique problem.