A Simple Workflow to 3D Print Your SOLIDWORKS Concept Models

Article by Stratasys Ltd. updated November 11, 2020


Product design workflow is easier than ever before, thanks to Stratasys 3D printers and SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software. Read on to find out how you can 3D print your SOLIDWORKS models:

SOLIDWORKS Click to 3D Print

SOLIDWORKS Click to 3D Print

The Workflow Problem

Amazing technology isn’t useful if you can’t take full advantage of its benefits. Achieving realistic 3D printed models from SOLIDWORKS shouldn’t require you to recolour files, rely on too many different software solutions, or manually add details after the part is printed. These extra steps take too much time and rack up costs.

The Solution: The Designer’s Toolkit

Stratasys PolyJet Technology™ is designed to meet all your form, fit, and visual modeling needs, from simple file preparation to design software integration and advanced colour and volumetric capabilities. The design realism software ensures a simple workflow powered by software solutions:

  • SOLIDWORKS with 3MF File Format offers a powerful, more efficient alternative to STL files, letting you go to print directly from  SOLIDWORKS. 3MF files deliver a complete package of model information in a single archive, including data on textures, materials, colours, and mesh.
  • GrabCAD Print™ software makes 3D printing easy, accessible, and efficient with optimized workflow and communication from your design software to your 3D printer. GrabCAD Print supports a wide range of file types, including native CAD, STEP, Parasolid, OBJ, 3MF, VRML and STL.
    • Voxel Print™ software allows advanced users, like academic researchers, to define data volumetrically for each 3D pixel, or voxel, throughout the entire model. This allows for an advanced level of control at a microscopic scale, enabling higher resolutions, fine-tuned colour placement, and shore value transitions within one part.
    • Bump Mapping compatibility lets designers simulate surface finishes by generating physical textures. GrabCAD Print reads bump map information from OBJ and 3MF files, and translates it into a real 3D printed texture. This enables a new level of 3D printed realism, for parts that both look and feel like the real product.

3D Print SOLIDWORKS Models Workflow

Going from design to print is three simple steps using SOLIDWORKS, GrabCAD Print, and a Stratasys PolyJet 3D Printer:

1. Design in SOLIDWORKS

Many designers are still relying on STLs, which don’t contain any colour or texture data. This requires communicating information about Colour,  Material and Texture (CMF) in other ways, including manual processes, extensive explanations, or additional software steps. But with SOLIDWORKS you can include that information in the 3MF file. Workflows that rely on OBJ and VRML files leave material, texture and finish out of the story, making them inefficient and time-consuming:



2. Export 3MF into GrabCAD Print

With GrabCAD print, it’s simple to import from industry standard CAD tools like SOLIDWORKS into the 3MF file format. This creates a compact file containing all the model information, including data on textures, colour, materials, and mesh. 3MF files can be imported directly into GrabCAD Print, which means you can be print-ready in just a few clicks:

3MF Model in GrabCAD Print

3MF Model in GrabCAD Print

3. 3D Print with a Stratasys PolyJet Machine

To achieve industry standard colour matching, GrabCAD Print offers PANTONE™ Validated colours and industry standard colour profiles. PolyJet 3D printers offer ICC colour profiles by X-Rite, which help ensure that your parts come out exactly the way you intended – and helps you keep those colours consistent for future work.

For fully accurate CMF models, go beyond colour to texture realism. PolyJet Technology and SOLIDWORKS software combine to enable bump mapping – bring physical textures to life in one easy-to-use 3D printing workflow.

3D Printed Model from SOLIDWORKS 3MF

3D Printed Model from SOLIDWORKS 3MF

Need help 3D Printing your SOLIDWORKS Model? Our Professional Services Team can assist you with 3D printing your model just send us your part and we’ll 3D print it for you.

It’s easy to do more with GrabCAD Print.

  • A variety of file formats supported.
    • 3MF
    • OBJ/VRML
    • STEP
    • STL
    • Other native CAD formats
  • File functionality.
    • Support assemblies
    • File fixing
    • Control of support structure
    • Tray and file preparation
  • Customized colour and finish assignments.
    • Colour picker
    • Digital materials
    • PANTONE Validated™ colours
    • Glossy or matte finish
    • Set core type
    • X-Rite i1Profiler colour profiles
  • Detailed part manipulation.
    • Part scaling
    • Add notes to parts
    • Auto-arrange tray
  • Intuitive print management.
    • Multiple print modes
    • Remote job queue management
    • Navigate between multiple printers

Design realism – simplified.

With SOLIDWORKS, GrabCAD Print, and a Stratasys 3D Printer, designers have access to a simple, efficient workflow that brings designs to life. Whether they incorporate bump mapping, colour gradients, complex surface textures, or colourful graphics, design concepts can become reality in just a few clicks.

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Stratasys Ltd.

For over 30 years Stratasys have been pioneering 3D Printing technology, solving problems, questioning, inventing and reinventing. Continually asking, “How can we help our customers turn a great idea into a great success?”