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Using STL to 3D Print in Solid Edge

Siemens Valued Contributor Siemens Valued Contributor
Siemens Valued Contributor

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Those of you that follow me on twitter or Google + likely know I have a few home projects running around 3D printing.  Many of you have high end Stratasys or 3D Systems machines at work and know outputting to these machines from Solid Edge has been available for many years and actually works pretty well.


What is changing is that the low cost of the new machines from places like Makerbot, 3D Systems (Cube), and a host of other companies have more people wanting to 3D print from Solid Edge.  It’s great for students who need a physical object and more common for designers to have 3D printers in their office for some basic prototyping.


Below is a simple video I did this weekend for one of my projects on how to create an STL file (the new Youtube functionality is really is pretty handy). Because STL is faceted and unitless, it can sometimes create some confusion the first time it is used:


If you want a little more background on the project, here is the broken joint on the chair my friend brought to me this Saturday (note, if you get a 3D printer, this will happen a lot Smiley Happy )


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The design itself (see video) was something put together in about 30 minutes which I then printed on my SolidDoodle printer (about $600).  Here is a picture of the broken part next to the new version.



Printing new part 2 


The final design worked without any problem.  Here is the assembled part next to a second version that was still working.



 Working assembly


Community Manager

Mark, that is is a pretty cool application of the low end device. What do you think about the produced part's reliability -- will it last a year or two or are you concerned it will break quickly? Also, any guess at cost of material? It used to be so expensive to do this, but maybe not so much now?

Siemens Valued Contributor

Good news and bad news on those questions:


I pay  $32/kilogram for PLA and ABS plastic so the part above is almost certainly less than a $1. I think that is about the cheapest you can print.  If you order parts off the web there are a lot more options.  Here are Shapeways prices:


On strength, that is the bad news. One study showed that given the same part, an injection molded ABS part was 1.2 to 2 times stronger than an ABS 3D printed part. It was 1.2 time strong if the stress was along axial extrusion lines and 2x strong  for transverse extrusion lines.


I think that is probably the optimistic best. Given the variance in materials, printers, technologies, infill,etc. I have no idea if the part I made is strong enough. It felt good in my hands but that is certainly not going to fly for anything that really counts.


Thanks for the advice burhop. I’m also fond of using plastic ABS and PLA. But when I heard that Nylon filament is stronger than the standard filaments, I grabbed several spools which I now use for prototyping bike and car parts.

Gears Phenom
I made some 3D prints with shapeways. The export for single color parts goes perfect, but an export for full-color print could be a lot better. (there is none for the moment...)

Yes, that is one of the reasons people are keen for a new 3D printing format.STL does not support color or a lot of other things.  AMF will do it but adoption is slowwwww.... Microsoft can handle it but only on Windows 8.1.


What does Shapeways take as input?


There is a add in for SolidEdge which uploads your model as stl to a webservice and checks printablity.

You also can choose different materials and see prices: