New 3D printing software update will speed up design-to-print process
Major advancements in additive manufacturing technology have been made in recent years, as belief in 3D printing as a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing methods continues to rise.
If you’re a designer or engineer who regularly employs a 3D printer to assist your work, you’ll have first-hand experience of how things have changed for the better in a hugely significant way.
One of the frustrations that persists, however, is the process of actually making an idea reality.
How do you turn CAD file into a model fit for testing and inspection, without spending hours converting and fixing STL files?
GrabCAD print has gone a long way to easing such headaches. The most complete solution for Stratasys 3D printers, this astute, easy-to-use software allows for simplified preparing, scheduling, monitoring and reporting of print jobs.
But things just got even better.
Stratasys is aiming to simplify the design-to-print process even further by eliminating the laborious CAD to STL conversion roadblock in the GrabCAD platform. It says the software’s new Advanced FDM feature will enable users to streamline design-to-print workflows, while simultaneously improving production times and material usage, in an intuitive way.
Mark Walker, Lead Software Product Manager at Stratasys, said: “For design and manufacturing engineers, one of the most frustrating processes is ‘dumbing down’ a CAD file to STL format – only to require subsequent re-injection of design intent into the STL printing process.
“This software is engineered to do away with this complexity, letting designers reduce iterations and design cycles – getting to a high-quality, realistic prototype and final part faster than ever before.”
Put simply, the Advanced FDM feature enables users to speed up the print preparation process without sacrificing design intent, such as optimising weight minimisation while maintaining strength and specific mechanical properties.
The software contains CAD-native build controls that eliminate manual generation of complex toolpaths, which in turn helps in cutting down overall print preparation times.
Intuitive features help users achieve desired part characteristics through automatic control of FDM build attributes. Using Advanced FDM, engineers can easily select areas on native design geometry and specify design traits, and the software will generate the best toolpaths.
The approach is already yielding impressive results for companies such as Eckhart, an industrial solutions specialist, and autosport big-hitter McLaren.
Robert Heath, an Additive Manufacturing Application Engineer at Eckhart, said: “GrabCAD Print Advanced FDM’s geometry-based workflows have allowed us to fine-tune part builds – meeting application requirements and processing parts more quickly than we could before.
“The seamless transition of moving a build between applications is easy and intuitive.”
McLaren Rapid Prototyping Programmer Dave Hewitson said: “When processing a very large number of tools and fixtures in a very time-pressured environment, it was crucial to ensure stronger tool areas were correct first time, every time.
“Advanced FDM negates the requirement for multiple programmes, creating a more streamlined process. It’s also allowed us to more effectively control the structure of end-use car parts, something that was previously very difficult with the solutions we had in hand. This means we can get better parts to the track faster.”
The software now enables users to specify desired areas of strength and rigidity on a CAD model, as well as to control infill rates, ensure material placement surrounding holes and inserts and eliminate the risk of seams.
From there, GrabCAD generates an appropriate toolpath, saving significant time without compromising the indicated design specifications.
The Advanced FDM feature for GrabCAD Print can now be downloaded (for version 1.24). The software tool is supported by a number of Stratasys FDM systems, including the F370, Fortus 380mc, Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition, Fortus 450mc, Fortus 400mc, Fortus 900mc and F900.