Wondering what the difference is, or how SOLIDWORKS and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform work together when it comes to 3D printing? In this article, we’ll be sending a part file from SOLIDWORKS to the 3D printer and using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to collaborate and communicate with team members to bring the entire process to a full circle.
Starting in SOLIDWORKS, we are ready to send this file to the printer and the first step is to click on the File tab and navigate to the option for Print 3D. Listed here are the hundreds of different 3D printer manufacturers and the available printers from each. SOLIDWORKS makes it easy to save the part within its proper file format so that it can be exported for 3D printing. In this case, I will use the Stratasys F370.
In the left panel, we can see that the build size is auto-populated, which is convenient because that allows us to visualize what our print will look like and whether it will fit inside the printer.
There are many options to choose from at this point. I can select the plane that I want to designate as the bottom plane. I can select the orientation and change the rotation on any axis. I can also translate the part left, right, up, and down on the tray. I can even scale up, or scale down, my model. Next, I can look at the preview and see which faces are supported and which ones are not by color codes. I am now ready to save the file in one of the many available file formats to choose from. In this case, I will save it as an STL file. Now my file is ready to be sent to the 3D printer.
Another way to prepare your file for 3D printing is in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform where you can also communicate and collaborate with your team. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform allows us to use a browser to access the community-based SOLIDWORKS environment.
I can access the file that was shared in 3DEXPERIENCE and open it inside of my desktop SOLIDWORKS application. Once opened, I can see this is a hollow body, which means it's going to fill up with support when we print it, and I don't want to do that. To correct this, I'm going to create a center cut so that I can print half of this model that I wish to print. We'll save this right to the desktop as a solid part.
Next, I can export the part into a 3D printing prep software like GrabCAD Print. Our part is ready to print. One last step is to go back to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and upload pictures and communicate the latest updates on the new prototype part with the team. How do I do that? Inside of the browser, I will go to the communities tab in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and find the project and the conversation about this part. I’ll upload some pictures and let them know that the prototype part is ready!