SOLIDWORKS and Additive Manufacturing are a Pairing for Perfection

Article by Angus Hudson, CSWP created/updated January 16, 2019

Do you ever find that an off-the-shelf solution doesn’t quite suit your needs? Maybe you can find something close enough to get the job done, or maybe you can hack several options together, but this can often be a time consuming, trial and error process. Javelin’s Vancouver office recently purchased a new coffee machine (instant morale boost), which uses fancy (recyclable) pods to brew the coffee.

Unfortunately, this meant our prior system of storing beans in an airtight container wouldn’t work for the new, oddly shaped aluminum pods. While there were several pod storage options from the machine’s manufacturer and various other vendors, none of them exactly suited our needs. Luckily, we had an office full of SOLIDWORKS design experts and the most robust additive manufacturing lab in Western Canada at our disposal!

With a wide range of office and professional grade printers, Javelin's Vancouver office houses the most robust additive manufacturing lab in Western Canada.

With a wide range of office and production grade printers, Javelin’s Vancouver office houses the most robust additive manufacturing lab in Western Canada

Designing to reduce Additive Material

SOLIDWORKS has industry leading tools for creating all kinds of components, but the shell, fill pattern, and vent tools are particularly well suited to additive manufacturing. The shell tool makes creating thin walled parts a breeze, allowing you to set your wall thickness according to material best practices. This allowed us to define the overall shape of our part using solid extrusions, and then create our thin walled part with only a single step.

Material costs money, but with additive manufacturing we have the freedom to only add material where it is necessary.

  • The Vent feature, first implemented for sheet metal design, creates extruded cuts from complex sketches.
  • The Fill pattern was also great for reducing material use by letting us pattern a shape as many times as it would fit on a face.

These tools made it easy to remove unnecessary material, while also giving our part a nice “only with additive” look.

SOLIDWORKS' intuitive tools make it easy to quickly create your ideal part, while minimizing material use.

SOLIDWORKS’ intuitive tools make it easy to quickly create your ideal part, while minimizing material use.

SOLIDWORKS Print 3D Tool

SOLIDWORKS Print 3D provides fully integrated additive manufacturing analysis. From a single software environment, we were able to test different orientations of our part and preview support needs, ensuring that we could find the most economical use of costly support material. Thin wall and gap analysis tools quickly check parts for manufacturability, enabling you to then make any necessary adjustments directly to your SOLIDWORKS model.

Finally, the striation line visualization puts everything in perspective, making it easy to choose a layer height suitable for the desired surface finish. SOLIDWORKS support for additive manufacturing formats, including .3mf, enable you to skip the translation steps and communicate directly with your manufacturing hardware.

The integrated Print 3D dialog makes it easy to find the best orientation for manufacturing.

The integrated SOLIDWORKS Print 3D dialog makes it easy to find the best orientation for manufacturing.

SOLIDWORKS best in class tools are well suited to an evolving manufacturing environment. Close integration with existing and future additive manufacturing technology ensures that you can design, prepare, and print all within one familiar environment. This complete solution makes it possible to rapidly produce parts that are tailored to your application, saving you time and money.

Contact us about SOLIDWORKS or Additive Manufacturing

Reach out to us today, or come visit one of our Additive Manufacturing labs, to explore the possibilities of SOLIDWORKS or Additive Manufacturing.

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Angus Hudson, CSWP

Angus is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional and Applications Expert, based in our Vancouver, British Columbia office.

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