May 5, 2016 | By Andre

Autodesk is a publicly traded company that has been creating CAD software since 1982. From that moment forward, it has been studied and used in some capacity by just about everyone involved in design from an engineering, architectural, construction or manufacturing standpoint.

So when they released the 33rd version of its flagship design suite AutoCAD earlier in 2016, it was no surprise that people took notice. An expanded feature list is highlighted by tools for easy center marks creation, importing geometry directly from a PDF and new companion Apps that replace their current Application Manager.

But for us here at 3ders, the most exciting new edition to AutoCAD 2017 is the ease in which users can now 3D print their designs to a commercial 3D print service or directly to their own 3D printer via its feature rich Print Studio companion tool set.

Print Studio, while not entirely new - it was previously available for the Spark 3D printing platform and Ember 3D printer - is now integrated into their flagship AutoCAD and therefore in the hands of millions of users around the world.

After checking out the features found within Print Studio, it’s difficult to argue the software will revolutionize the 3D printing landscape; but it’s user-friendly interface and unique support generation tools (borrowed heavily from Autodesk’s free alternative Meshmixer) do allow an easy transition from the digital to the physical world.

And just like almost every modern-day slicing software (Makerbot Desktop, Cura or Slic3r as alternative examples), the Autodesk variant lets you import 3D model files before scaling, rotating, multiplying, adding support structures and repairing items you’re hoping to 3D print.

The above video suggests that “importing a completed model into Print Studio and using the available preparation tools help you avoid trial and error printing, ensuring printing success.” Also, unlike some alternatives like Cura or Makerbot Desktop, this Autodesk 3D printing tool isn’t limited to a certain manufacturer when it comes to compatible 3D printers.

I have yet to try the software out for myself so I’m not entirely sure how well the file cleanup tools or support generation algorithms perform on shoddily put together files or delicate 3D models with difficult overhangs. But based on my experience with the company and its products, I imagine they’re on the right track. The company has been at the forefront in pushing mass-adoption for 3D printing for years after all.

A variety of free design and scanning tools via their 123D family of 3D print-centric software to its from-the-ground-up Meshmixer to the beginner level online Tinkercad service, it seems Autodesk is fully committed to pushing the threshold of what is possible with 3D printing.

Heck, I’ve visited their Toronto office on a few occasions and witnessed the 3D printers and prints they experiment with on a daily basis. I’ve worked along side Meshmixer creator Ryan Schmidt at a variety of 3D print related events and can feel the company’s presence and general acceptance in my local Maker community (not always an easy task for a corporate entity such that they are).

The inclusion of Print Studio as a companion piece to their 2017 edition of the flagship AutoCAD software suite only further contributes to the notion that Autodesk is fully committed to expanding itself into the fast growing world of 3D printing. And while Print Studio might not be the killer app necessary to finally propel 3D printing toward the masses, it sure is a good building block in the right direction.



Posted in 3D Software



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Boris wrote at 5/6/2016 6:44:05 PM:

"unlike some alternatives like Cura or Makerbot Desktop, this Autodesk 3D printing tool isn’t limited to a certain manufacturer when it comes to compatible 3D printers." ... funny, when you watch the autodesk video, when the user clicks on the pull down menu, showing what printers can be used with Print Studio, it's just a short list of a few brand name printers. Meanwhile Cura can be configured to make gcode for just about any FDM 3d printer.

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