May 17, 2016 | By Andre

For high-quality 3D printing to exist you need both a good 3D printer as well as good software solutions to process the 3D model file. Stratasys, one of the largest players in the 3D printing world, has recently been pulling out all the stops in an effort to prove they have all avenues covered.

Starting a few months ago, the company showcased a new workflow management system at Soliidworks World 2016 for their Connex3 3D printer lineup.  It now seems they’re pushing the envelope even further by introducing GrabCAD Print, a new intelligent workflow system that aims to simplify the process of converting virtual ideas into real-world objects.

GrabCAD Print is something that has been in the works for some time. Acquired by Stratasys in 2014, GrabCAD has always operated as a cloud-based platform complete with a network of 3 million designers and engineers.

As someone that has worked with 3D printers for years now, I can only stress how important good software is to run the machines and Paul Giaconia, VP of software products over at Stratasys seems to agree. He notes that, “we've articulated a solution strategy in the last couple years really around not just a piece of hardware but creating an experience that's easy, solves a problem, and gets the job done.”

While the entire feature list is extensive, the following stick out for me. First, the ability to import all sorts of native 3D CAD files directly into the platform instead of relying on a converted STL file ensures no data gets lost in the shuffle. Additionally, GrabCAD also streamlines workflow with multi-printer compatibility, print scheduling, real-time print monitoring and the ability to 3D print from any device with a web-browser.

While the announcement for GrabCAD Print is fresh, a few question regarding timeline in terms of availability and printer compatibility remains. For now, a public beta has been announced for the summer of 2016 and uPrint, Fortus, and Dimension series 3D printers are listed as being supported as of this writing. The high-end Connex or consumer range Makerbot 3D printers (also by Stratasys) aren't on the official list as things stand.

3D printing has come a long way in recent years from a hardware perspective. It’s a happy relief that the software side of things is finally beginning to catch up. A testimonial from design engineer Jimmy Callaway sums up the frustrations of years gone by very nicely: "When keeping up with fast paced development, frequently things will change in the last minute. In the past when a build had to be switched to a different 3D printer I'd have to do a clean restart - redo all of that file preparation work. With GrabCAD Print it's easy to switch between 3D printers within a single app. That's a huge step forward in improving the workflow.”

I relate to the headaches he describes and am eager to experience the next generation of 3D print software that GrabCAB Print promises to be. Fingers crossed and sign me up as a beta tester!



Posted in 3D Software



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