Ideation with SOLIDWORKS and a MakerBot 3D Printer just makes sense!

Article by Rod Mackay updated May 18, 2017


Affordable, quick and easy-to-use 3D printers are changing the face of product design and development, bringing this additive fabrication technology in-house for many designers and manufacturers. Thanks to SOLIDWORKS software it can now be just a matter of minutes to create your design concept in 3D, and only a matter of hours to create a physical prototype model with a MakerBot 3D printer.

MakerBot 3D printing offers many competitive advantages

Why should you be using a MakerBot 3D printer in your SOLIDWORKS design process? Here are a few good reasons:

Quicker Time to Market

The longer a product stays in the design cycle, the longer it’s time to market, meaning less profit for the company. Time-to-market considerations were identified as the most critical daily issue facing respondents of a Product Design and Development readership poll. In addition, this group said prototyping itself presented a time-to-market obstacle nearly 17 percent of the time.

Product Design Time to Market Graph

With increasing pressure to get products into the marketplace quickly, companies are compelled to make quick and accurate decisions during the conceptual stage of design. These decisions can affect almost 80 percent of the product’s total cost by establishing material selection, manufacturing techniques and longevity of the design. 3D printing optimizes profits by shortening design processes. With 3D printing, companies can now build parts within hours, not days or weeks.

In-House Convenience

3D printing technology can create multiple, ready-to-use models right from a desktop, making it especially convenient for companies needing a high number of models. The printers are versatile, yet easy to use and require no special training. Designers just load the printer software and start printing.

Increased Data Security

Everyone is concerned about security today, and while sending confidential STL files to an outside vendor is generally safe, having a 3D printer in-house removes any worry about risking intellectual property.

MakerBot Models

MakerBot Models

Cost Savings

The acquisition cost of a MakerBot 3D printer can be as little as $1,375 (USD), making them a good option for companies of all sizes. Annual operating costs are generally low too, as material and replacement parts are relatively cheap.

How does a MakerBot benefit the Design Process?

Today, MakerBot 3D printers are used by designers and engineers for concept development and product design. They help users and potential customers see and feel an actual part, rather than rely on their imagination to bring a picture or rendering to life. Models are also used as a visual aid to support tooling development.

Design Process

Design Process

Design iterations are created faster.

Each year, a considerable number of new product initiatives fail. In a business climate where many companies are asking employees to do more with less, CAD solid modeling and 3D printing capabilities are essential for efficient product design and development. With 3D printing, companies can experiment with new ideas and numerous design iterations, without extensive time or tooling expense, to determine whether product concepts are worthy of additional resources.

MakerBot 3D Printer in use

MakerBot 3D Printer in use

Early feedback identifies design flaws.

Successful product design requires review and input from many sources. With in-house 3D printers, design teams can review concepts earlier with others who may provide feedback. This real-time collaboration with engineering, marketing and quality assurance can lead to early quality suggestions, enabling designers to make adjustments throughout the design process and follow-up testing.

Early changes save money.

Changes cost more the later they occur in the design process. Early and frequent communication and collaboration can reduce these costs. The diagram on the next page illustrates how the cost of changing a product in the concept stage may cost only $1, but as the design progresses, so does the cost of making changes. By the time a product is in production, the change that would have cost $1 in the concept stage now costs $10,000.

3D Printing should be part of your process

3D printing provides a highly cost-efficient means of producing numerous design iterations and immediate feedback; throughout the critical beginning stages of the development process. The ability to refine form, fit and function quickly can significantly affect production costs and time to market. This can create a distinct competitive advantage for those companies who include 3D printing as an integral part of their design process.

Lower costs will continue to expand the 3D printing market, especially in schools and small to medium sized businesses. The speed, consistency, accuracy and low cost of these printers will help companies reduce time-to-market and maintain a competitive edge.

Get a SOLIDWORKS MakerBot 3D Bundle

A SOLIDWORKS MakerBot 3D bundle provides the tools you need to design your products and build a plastic prototype. We will provide you with the technical support to solve your tough design problems. Our bundles include:

  1. SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD Software
    • Choose from SOLIDWORKS Standard, Professional or Premium software.
    • Includes 3D design tools and application specific add-ins.
  2. SOLIDWORKS Subscription Service
    • Technical support from Javelin’s SOLIDWORKS experts.
    • Software updates and new releases.
    • Access to MySolidWorks online training and resources.
  3. A MakerBot 3D Printer
    • Receive a MakerBot Replicator+ desktop 3D printer at a discounted price.
    • Includes Basic Starter Kit:
      • 1 spool of material
      • 6 month standard manufacturer’s warranty

Act Now. This special offer ends May 31, 2017.


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Rod Mackay

Rod has been using 3D CAD software for over 25 years and has trained thousands of designers to use their CAD systems more effectively. Rod is the Javelin Webmaster and is based in Ottawa, ON., Canada.