3D Systems recently introduced 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS 15, a plugin for SOLIDWORKS that helps users prepare and optimize their designs for additive manufacturing. I had a chance to speak with the leading product manager, Maoz Barkai, for 3DXpert. Here are some of the highlights of that interview.
–It is easier to access the build simulation feature, which will simulate what will happen on the metal 3D printer. Results are easier to review, enabling engineers to see if there are any issues with the design. The software will mark which layers may have issues and predict problems so that designers can fix them before a build begins.
–The Power Support feature automatically handles support generation. One of the functions of lattices is to remove heat from the part after exposure to a heat source and prevent “draw,” which is a rough surface that is often created in areas that have overhangs or require support.
–Version 15 includes a lot of improvements around lattice design. Designers will find richer capabilities to develop their own lattices. One is called connectors, and it refers to trusses or beams in a build. The software also offers zero thickness connectors. It gives you a surface instead of a rod, which speeds printing because it’s one laser cut. It’s an efficient lattice to work with.
–The lattice design function is based on solid rather than mesh design. Thus, if a designer makes a change to the shape of the body, the lattice will adjust itself automatically because it knows the sequence of various operations. This feature will save design time. Plus, lattices can be edited by the designer.
–3DXpert is printer and technology agnostic.
–There is a subset of 3DXpert that is called 3DXpert for SolidWorks. It is slightly more limited in features because the target audience is different. Most of the users of this version are more involved with verifying that a design is suitable to 3D printing then they are about part slicing and setting up machine attributes.
–3DXpert is a plugin inside SolidWorks. Designers can send data for a part design in SolidWorks directly into 3DXpert for SolidWorks and it will be read as a solid part.
–Medical is a major market for 3DXpert. Oftentimes, designs for medical application need lattices, for example in osteo integration–the integration between implants and the bone. Usually, engineers use SolidWorks, but in the mid-range CAD software they need lattice design capability. Even if these smaller users work with printing bureaus, they still need to be sure their design is printable. The ability to incorporate their own lattice designs into the total design saves time and money.