3D printers are everywhere you look. You can buy these on the internet, in Home Depot, or in your local Sam's club. SOLIDWORKS recognizes this and has provided us with some new functionality so we better understand what our printed parts are going to look like. New in 2016 is the ability to run a preview analysis and identify the faces that require support and show striation lines (or grove layer lines) of the print. This is using the 3D Printer driver function available in Windows 8.
You can use Print3D to print 3D prototypes of your models when you have a 3D printer installed locally
With your model open, click on File, Print 3D. The property manager will allow you to align the model to your print bed, and the build analysis will show the striation lines.
The striation lines will allow you to see what type of detail will be lost at the given layer thickness. This is very important since printed parts can cost you a couple hundred dollars. Seeing the print lines will also indicate where they weakness may be in the printed prototype. Seeing this all in a preview allows us to make corrections before getting printing any parts, and gives us the confidence that the parts will be exactly as we expect them.
Appearance of the prototype can be a big deal. Printers often give us different surface finishes when printing. They can either print in a gloss finish or a matte finish. The problem you run into when printing a gloss finish is that any surface that requires support material cannot have a gloss finish. This usually means only the top half of the model will be glossy.
New in SOLIDWORKS 2016 is the ability to analyze a print build to see which surface will require support material.
Faces that are green in color will require support material. To make this even easier to see they also allow you to set the part transparent so the face that require support material are very visible.
SOLIDWORKS 2016 is taking the guess work out of 3D printing. The worst feeling is getting a part back from the printer and being surprised by the result. This can have costly effects on your project.
So if you have a 3D Printer, make sure you check out these new features and save yourself some money and frustration, by knowing the exact output from your printer before you dispense any plastic!
We hope this part of the What’s New series gives you a better understanding of the new features and functions of SOLIDWORKS 2016. Please check back to the CATI Blog as the CATI Support Team will continue to break down many of the new items in SOLIDWORKS 2016. All of these articles will be stored in the category of "SOLIDWORKS What's New." You can also learn more about SolidWorks 2016 by clicking on the image below to register for one of CATI’s Design Summit’s.
Bryan Pawlak, CSWE
Sr. Application Engineer