Additive Manufacturing Takes a Step Closer to Mainstream at SOLIDWORKS World- Part 1

SOLIDWORKS World 2017 saw the introduction of SOLIDWORKS CAM and the start of SOLIDWORKS doing manufacturing. SOLIDWORKS World 2018 featured a “shop floor experience” showing the Design to Manufacturing workflow that SOLIDWORKS enables, manufacturing parts live in the Partner Pavilion. But cutting material to make parts is not the only way to make things anymore. Additive Manufacturing, or 3D Printing, is reaching a maturity where it is not just for prototypes anymore. This has never been as evident as at this year’s SOLIDWORKS World.

Even before the event got going, Rize Inc. announced an add-in for SOLIDWORKS. The team at Rize put it together in a very short amount of time but did a great job. No more saving files as STLs and opening them in the Rize software. The new add-in does it all in one click. From CAD to print prep software with the click of a button. Then with Rize’s printer, the support structures peel off like Velcro so the workflow is easy from both pre-processing and post-processing 3D prints.

On Day 1, Stephen Nigro, President of HP Inc’s 3D printing business was on stage talking to Gian Paolo Bassi about their new printer enabling full color prints, and announcing the start of a collaboration with us at SOLIDWORKS to enable voxel-level design. This is a particularly interesting capability of 3D printing that their machines will support in future. Not only can you color each voxel of material (a voxel is best described as a 3D pixel) but in future, you will be able to tailor the material properties of each drop. That means one part which has impact absorbing properties one end, high stiffness at the other and maybe something else in between!

Later on, Sindoh got a mention for their work in collaboration with both the Apps for Kids team and also Xdesign. The same approach was taken to allow designs from Apps for Kids or Xdesign to be printed on any Sindoh printer connected to the web. This sounds much more straight-forward than it actually is behind the scenes and that is testament to what a great job the collaboration has provided.

In the partner pavilion, attendees were treated to 19 3D print-related exhibitors to visit. This ranged from the printer manufacturers to service providers and software to make the workflow easier. The industry stalwarts 3D Systems and Stratasys were joined by the new startups like Desktop Metal and Rize. The Xometry booth was as popular as ever, particularly with their X-shaped fidget spinners as a giveaway.  Big Rep made their first appearance at a SOLIDWORKS World as did 3DHubs and Atlas 3D. Ultimaker, Formlabs, Markforged were also there along with 3D Platform, Sindoh, Makerbot and HP 3D.


Mark Rushton

Mark Rushton is a Product Portfolio Manager for SOLIDWORKS and has been involved with 3D CAD and 3D Printing for over 15 years in several capacities from research to consulting for the likes of Rolls Royce, GE, JCB and Dyson. When not playing with 3D printers or other tech, he is most likely out snowboarding, wake boarding or mountain biking.