Feb 2, 2016 | By Alec

Tech conventions are often the best place to learn more about new 3D printing innovations, and it looks like SolidWorks World 2016 is no different. Currently ongoing in Dallas, Texas, it showcases plenty of 3D design innovations. But perhaps most fascinating is a new approach by SolidWorks to more adequately incorporate 3D printing into their software. In part, they are aiming to realize this through a collaboration with Sindoh, in which their software is to be integrated into the 3D printing process of Sindoh 3D printers – thereby greatly speeding up the whole process. Mother company Dassault Systèms and a number of other partners, meanwhile, are working to integrate material selection for 3D printing into SolidWorks.

SolidWorks, of course, is a truly professional piece of design software – meaning a lot of options, but a lot of pitfalls too. It’s no wonder many beginning users are advised to look elsewhere. There are, after all, quite a few steps involved with 3D printing something in SolidWorks: Finish a design in SolidWorks, Export it as an STL file, import it into a separate application, reorient and scale the model, add support structures, and finally print. Before you know it, quite a lot of time has flown by. But according to Dassault Systèms boss Bernard Charlès, the entire focus of SolidWorks is changing because 3D printing’s many benefits have made the technology essential to makers everywhere.

In part, they are trying to solve this issue by removing the need for additional software through this partnership with Sindoh, which you might know as one of the largest players in the South Korean 3D printer market. “Unlike other additive manufacturing companies at hundreds or thousands of machine-production scale, Sindoh is applying experiences accumulated through millions of 2D printers into 3D printers. By leveraging 56 years of expertise and massive manufacturing capacities, Sindoh is able to ensure consistent quality, improve user experiences beyond technology, and provide competitive pricing,” SolidWorks says of their partner choice.

So how will this integration work? Well, it basically adds a new dedicated command bar to SolidWorks when using a Sindoh 3D printer. “ You can add a local or network printer just like 2D printers,” they explain. “We can set print quality, slice the model, add support structures automatically and so on. Then once we hit Print, we can find the estimated time and filament needed. And, on the Task panel on the right hand side, we can even monitor printing progress. The camera feed can also be monitored on your phone.” BB Lee, the senior vice president of Sindoh, further revealed that they are even working on an image recognition solution, which will enable the company to analyze 3D printing processes through the web and offer necessary support.

It’s a very interesting concept that should help makers a long way, with the only downside being that it’s only limited to Sindoh 3D printers for now. If successful, however, we can expect that to change soon. For more information, check out Sindoh is in Booth #702 in the Partner Pavilion at SolidWorks World 2016.

But more generally, SolidWorks is seeking to add a whole new dimension to the 3D printing experience by incorporating material design into their process, something that became apparent from talks by senior officials from SolidWorks and mother firm Dassault Systèms. They revealed that their focus has shifted to materials, which they see as the true added value of 3D printing integration. “3D printing is essentially about developing new materials. The material properties need to become the new parameters on which engineers are focusing. Design is about more than just shape, but also about getting the most out of material properties. Discovering new materials should become a key part of the design process,” argued SolidWorks CEO Gian Paulo Bassi.

Bernard Charlès further argued that the design process should also focus on the function that is to be realized through design. “The system needs to present the best results, based on the characteristics the engineer is searching for.” Though a number of collaborations have been set up with an eye on integrating materials into SolidWorks, nothing concrete is known just yet. However, it is clear that the focus is shifting towards 3D printing.



Posted in 3D Software



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