6 things SolidWorks Users should know about 3D Printing

What do you want to know about 3D Printing?

My experience is that engineers and designers want to know everything about everything.

We just don’t always have that kind of time so we have to simplify.
The Trick…
My trick when I need to learn the basics of anything is 1st off to find any kind of expert and ask 2 questions and receive 6 useful answers.

  1. Tell me 3 things that I should absolutely know.
  2. Tell me the 3 biggest mistake other people make.

With these 6 answers printed on a yellow sticker on your monitor you can fairly safe adventure into new challenges :-)

3D Printing…
I do not know much about 3D Printing so I went to my friend Lee McElhinny and asked the following 2 questions, and was lucky enough to end up with 6 good useful answers.

Question…
3 Things a designer should know about 3D Printing.

Lee’s Answer…
3d printing is VERY different from Machining

1) Support removal must be taken into consideration with fragile parts or fragile features on parts.

2) 3D printing can build complicated blind holes and undercuts that machining cannot.

3) With soluble support material, entire functioning assemblies can be built as one piece with no post assembly required.

Question…
3 Mistakes a SolidWorks User does on a design that need to be printed.

Lee’s Answer…
1) When scaling a large model down to be printed (I.E. a building or a car) a small features size are sometimes reduced to the point that they don’t build ( antennas and flagpoles for example).

2) Adjacent parts are sometimes not merged when they need to be resulting in the model being built as two parts (or one very fragile part) when the intent was to build one strong part.

3) A part is sometimes designed for machining (I.E. two joining parts ) when they can be built as one in 3D Print.

Thank you Lee…

Conclusion…
I believe in many ways 3D Printing is going through the same development the CNC Mill did through the 90′s and into the 2000′s. As the machines gets better the engineers and designers will feed them more challenging projects. These 6 answers from Lee should be a good starting point.

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  • Matt G.

    I would add this as a mistake or a tip – orientation. If you orient a flexible member in the wrong direction, it will break when flexed. Rotate the item and it’s super strong.

  • http://cadcamstuff.com/ Lars Christensen

    Great advice. Thank you Matt!

  • Matt G.

    You’re welcome. Sometimes, I’ll chop up a part and grow clips/bending members separately just to get a stronger layer orientation locally.