WALTHAM, MA, Sep 24, 2014 - With every major release of a CAD program comes a dilemma. How to convey all that information? SOLIDWORKS 2015 is no exception. Dassault did its best to dumb down the changes --- there were literally thousands – for the assembled press. As most of the press are not CAD users the significance of most of the enhancements are lost upon us. For example, is the new Treehouse feature going to be a hit? No idea.
But SOLIDWORKS almost missed a opportunity to trumpet one enhancement that would have resonated with all the media present. Saying “3D printing” would have stirred even the sleepiest old journalist in a post-meatball-calzone-lunch induced daze.
With SOLIDWORKS 2015, you can make a 3D print right from the menu. You have to have Windows 8.1. Microsoft had introduced 3D printing back in November 2013 but neglected to mention that it was going to be up to software and hardware vendors to create the drivers to actually make 3D objects actually appear.
SOLIDWORKS 2015 is the first CAD vendor to come through on the 3D printing promise, says Aaron Kelly, product manager at Dassault, who was kind enough to wheel a Makerbot 3D printer to where the press had already started to file out, to show me how it was done.
Currently, the Print to 3D command only works with MakerBot 3D printers, though.
Sure enough, Aaron clicks on the menu and the MakerBot print head starts whizzing. The print volume is displayed on the SOLIDWORKS screen. The MakerBot display shows it is printing a SLDPRT file – the native part file. The conversion to STL files is either not happening or is invisible to the user.
I ask about support structures, which were not needed for the simple part being made.
“The program creates support structures if needed," says Aaron, as if by magic. Support structures are not displayed on the screen, however.