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3D Printing a Solid Edge Design

Siemens Valued Contributor Siemens Valued Contributor
Siemens Valued Contributor

If you haven't seen my previous posts on this topic, they are here and here.


Now that I have some experience using the 3D Printer, I need to step up my game and design something for it to print.  Before that, let me get on my soapbox for a moment.


<Soapbox on> There are two types of Diabetes.  Type 2 (aka Adult Onset Diabetes) is usually related to lifestyle issues like obesity, although it can also be triggered by pregnancy.  In Type 2 Diabetes the patient may be able to improve with diet, exercise, and weight loss.  Type 1 (aka Juvenile Diabetes) is caused by an auto-immune disorder in which the body attacks the insulin-making cells on the pancreas.  Since Type 1 patients cannot create insulin, they must have it externally administered (usually via injection).  Some patients use insulin pumps which administer the drug throughout the day. Type 1 patients cannot get rid of Diabetes by diet, exercise, or weight loss.  Please don’t suggest the latest diet plan you saw to get rid of Diabetes to a Type 1 patient. <Soapbox off>


20150318_131413.jpgI know someone with Type 1 Diabetes, and they have an insulin pump.  The pump came with a handy belt holder, but it broke.  Aha!  I can design and 3D Print a new pump holder!  I’ve got a mission!


I designed a holder for the insulin pump using Solid Edge (Synchronous Mode).  It took about 30 minutes, and most of that time was applying blends (a real Solid Edge modeling expert could probably cut that time in half).  Then I saved it as an *.stl file and handed the file over to a “slicing engine” named Cura. This software slices the object into horizontal sections and then makes decisions on how to 3D print it.  G-code creation is automatic, once you have some key settings established.


20150317_095956.jpgI printed it with the open end (where the belt hook attaches) down.  That meant the flat area at the bottom of the holder (top of the print) would be unsupported.  The printer didn’t care though, and just smeared plastic across the opening until it closed the gap.  It was kind of funny to watch, but as you can see from the bottom of the holder, it created a rough surface.






Analysis: it works!  Less than 3 hours after beginning the design, I had a prototype to hold in my hands (and check for fit).

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(view in My Videos)

In my next post, I will go through the Design/Slice/Print process in more detail.


Footnote: Science of medicine has made huge strides in treating both types of Diabetes in the past 20 years, and I’m predicting that a cure for Type 1 will be discovered within the next 20 years.  For more information about Type 1, visit American Diabetes Association.


The usefulness of having one of these things in a shop environment is something we are still wrapping our heads around. Here's a picture of a louver forming tool I modeled in 3 minutes and hit the print button on- for a one-off job. Next to it in the picture is our first test piece to see how it did. This was a 'home' project and I didn't have the time to mill punch and die blocks, and originally wanted to see how quickly the plastic exploded when put in a press. Good for a chuckle, I thought.


This little chunk of ABS formed several dozen louvers in 0.030" mild steel at 2 tons pressure on our Amada, and is displaying no deformation or wear. It certainly opened my eyes to what I can be using it for, for one-off prototype tooling, beyond just making pretty concepts for us.10313059_10152818827560835_8192261241190995871_n.jpg



Dylan- that's amazing. What kind of machine are you using?


 Hi Larry,


I'm using a Makerbot Replicator 2X. These were printed with a 50% infill, and I could have gone much less! We spiked the pressure to almost 3 tons accidentally while setting up the program, and these plastic pieces didn't come apart. My jaw was about on the floor. 


If you do look into a printer for yourself, I have to warn you away from the 5th gen Makerbots. They are a NIGHTMARE and have inherent design flaws that cannot be resolved. 

Gears Esteemed Contributor

And that plastic die/punch sheared the sheetmetal also?


That's what we have a laser for Smiley Happy


"That's what we have a laser for"



OOOhhhhhhhh.... well, that makes a big difference. I was just stunned. Thanks for clarifying that.


If it sheared it, too, I'd be selling my CNC equipment Smiley Wink I'm happy enough knowing that if you pay attention to layer direction, prototype form tools are well within the realm of possibility.

Gears Esteemed Contributor

Of course, there are additive RP tools that can make fully dense metal parts too (SLS/EBM).  Just saw a news blurb from Protomold where they can now create low-alloy steel low run injection molded parts now too.

Siemens Valued Contributor

Hi Ken,


Have you seen this video?


The future looks bright for hybrid manufacturing, so put your welding goggles on!  

Gears Esteemed Contributor

Pretty amazing.  I have seen other hybrid systems using different additive methods, but haven't seen that one.