Hello! If you’re reading this as a seasoned 3D printer-er, then welcome, and if you’re reading this thinking “what’s new in 3D printing? ME!” then also keep reading, as here at Solid Edge we’re all about making the latest technology as accessible as possible…
First I’d like to start with a what’s new “easter egg” – available in product, but also downloadable online, a 3D printing guide we created with the team at 3YOURMIND to answer common questions such as what is 3D printing, when to use it, when not to use it, various printer types, best practices, and when to buy a 3D printer. Worth a read.
Okay, Solid Edge’s view of 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) goes like this:
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)
The real value of additive manufacturing doesn’t come from simply printing out current designs, it comes from designing FOR this manufacturing method, and this is a focus area in Solid Edge. Generative Design plays a key role here; this is basically where Solid Edge generates the optimum component shape, balancing required strength and material usage. In doing so, a complex, organic shape is usually created (see image), which while wonderfully aesthetic, would be a pain to manufacture traditionally. 3D printing however welcomes this with open arms. A caveat to watch out for is that some software provides you at worst a visual result only, that you then need to then “reverse model” over, or at best, a nasty, rough output. Not the case with Solid Edge of course – smooth, print ready models here thanks!
There have been lots of Generative Design enhancements in Solid Edge 2019 which I won’t delve into here (future post in the works), but stand-outs are increased shape control (e.g. achieve organic lattice or organic strut type topology), factor of safety optimization target, displacement constraint (e.g. to design parts that flex), gravity load (a pretty common loading type here on earth), multiple load cases (e.g. for a lever that's used in both up and down directions at different times), a bunch of usability enhancements, plus a “use my CPU when I’m asleep please” batch tool.
Convergent modeling, a pioneering Siemens technology introduced last year to Solid Edge also sees improvements in Solid Edge 2019. What is this? Basically, the ability to work with mesh data like you’re used to with traditional b-rep data. What’s that got to do with 3D printing? 3D print data is commonly mesh data (e.g. STL files). Pretty helpful then. Solid Edge 2019 sees enhancements here such as analytic recognition (e.g. a flat face is selectable like a flat face should be), modify, copy, etc. geometric features using the synchronous technology (intelligent direct modelling) steering wheel, delete chamfers and rounds, replace face using a mesh body, and more. So if you've got yourself a, erm, self-watering planter STL downloaded from Thingiverse that you need to work with, now you can!
3D Printing Service
A while ago we offered Solid Edge software as a service, and now you can 3D print as a service too! This is great way to try 3D printing before buying a machine, sample alternative materials or processes, or indeed rely on it as your additive production method. How? From the 3D print preview click the Order Online button > choose material (with strength, etc. comparison and printability checks along the way) > select service provider (by price, delivery time, etc.) > swipe credit card > receive physical part(s) in the mail. Concerned about security of your intellectual property? Neither Siemens nor our technology provider here, 3YOURMIND, see the contents of the parts that you submit - they are passed directly to the service provider.
Solid Edge 2019 brings more print suppliers (now over 50), all providing real-time quotes. This ultimately
means lower prices for you thanks to greater supplier competition, and generally more selection. Also new is the ability to upload documents and comments alongside models, useful for opening a dialog with the supplier around more specific manufacturing requirements.
In-House 3D Printing
So you’ve designed for additive, and you’re ready to send this to your 3D printer. Where as in the olden days you would be limited to ‘paper print’ only, Solid Edge offers ‘3D print’ (see image); similar to previewing your paper document landscape vs. portrait, etc. here you can type in the size of your printer bed and the dynamic preview will update to show your part fitting on the bed. Or not fitting. Which is the point of this preview – you may need to, for example, split your part into sections. You can also tweak tolerance/quality of the mesh output (with live preview), choose whether you’ll be using STL or 3MF as your data vehicle, and view other key information such as volume and surface area to help calculate material and finishing costs.
New for Solid Edge 2019 is color print support, available simply by choosing 3MF file format, and of course creating a colored CAD model… oh and having access to a color 3D printer. If this is something you fancy, we worked this color printing capability with our friends over at HP specifically for their new Jet Fusion 3D 500/300 series printers.
While pretty much all 3D printers come with their own printer specific preparation software where you can read in said STL or 3MF file, another option is Microsoft’s 3D Builder. Integrated with Solid Edge (launched from the 3D print preview) this no cost add-on can check your model for any potential print problems, allow further pre-production mesh editing such as simplifying and smoothing, orient your part using digital gravity (great for complex Generatively Designed parts where it’s not easy to find a ‘bottom’), multiply parts for your print bed, and more.
So there you have it, a simple and sweet approach to additive manufacturing / 3D printing, further enhanced in Solid Edge 2019, whether designing FOR additive manufacturing to realise it's potential, leveraging printing as a service, or just making sure what you have on your screen comes out of the 3D printer!
Try any of this latest Solid Edge 2019 tech out today (whether you have Solid Edge or not) here.
And of course it doesn’t stop there – let me know what you’d like to see in Solid Edge 2020!
Now go….make things great by making great things…