[OpenSCAD] STL without render?

bsuter ben.suter at gmail.com
Wed Jun 1 07:28:30 EDT 2016

Is it possible to save an STL file without going through the full render

It frustrates me that I can *see* the surface model using "preview", but
apparently can not simply save this as an STL file? 

Background: I am using OpenSCAD to generate surface models of neurons,
because the ability to programmatically define 3D surfaces from a set of
tapered cylinders closely matches the way in which neuronal geometry is
represented when derived from experimental measurements. My goal is to make
an STL file that I can use for 3D printing - I don't care about lighting,
viewpoints, textures, colors. Just the pure surface model. 

Currently the render takes 2.5 hours per neuron, severely limiting my
ability to process many neurons and making me doubt whether it's feasible
for me to assemble a single scene with ~50 neurons (as I had hoped). 

In any case, I'm very happy to have found OpenSCAD and have to say it's been
a great pleasure using it in my processing pipeline. Thank you, and keep up
the great work! 

PS: Currently my scene consists of a few thousand individual cylinders and
spheres, each with its own translation and rotation relative to the origin.
However, each of these segments naturally falls into a geometrical hierarchy
- so alternatively I could represent the scene as a hierarchy of rotations
and translations of each child segment relative to its parent. Is there
reason to believe that the hierarchical representation (with few root nodes)
would render faster? 

PPS: Here's the console output after my latest render - note this is on a
16-core Xeon / Windows 7 64-bit / 72 GB RAM / SSD / GTX 970 machine. Are
there any OpenSCAD settings I should modify to make better use of these

Geometries in cache: 6514 
Geometry cache size in bytes: 60051248 
CGAL Polyhedrons in cache: 0 
CGAL cache size in bytes: 0 
Total rendering time: 2 hours, 19 minutes, 58 seconds 
Top level object is a 3D object: 
Simple: yes 
Vertices: 490328 
Halfedges: 1703918 
Edges: 851959 
Halffacets: 730078 
Facets: 365039 
Volumes: 3 
Rendering finished. 

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