SOLIDWORKS xDesign to the Rescue

This Friday I was invited to my wife’s work’s BBQ. I couldn’t go empty-handed so I thought I would 3D print something to give to her boss. It would be a nice icebreaker, and I thought it would be a good project to try out SOLIDWORKS xDesign on my Chromebook. To up the ante somewhat, and also save myself some post-processing time, I would design it so it could be printed as quickly as possible and needing no support structures. After all, today is Thursday and the party is tomorrow!

I fired up xDesign from the 3D quadrant of the 3DEXPERIENCE Compass and started from scratch on something every executive needs: a charging stand for their phone. Ok, so it isn’t very imaginative but if you have any better suggestions, let me know in the comments and I will give it a try.

Time was of the essence so I did a quick search for some examples and found a nice bent acrylic version with a circular hole in the back for the charging cable and a lip to keep the phone on the stand but with space for the cable in the bottom.

I started with an almost-closed isosceles triangle-shaped extrude, with a ledge for the phone to sit on. To keep print time down, I would print it on its side as this would be the minimum Z height. Next was to reduce the amount of material to speed up the printing time even more. Unfortunately, there’s no ellipse tool so I had to go for diamond-shaped cut-outs. This mean no supports to clean out after the build. I then patterned it front and back. All nice, quick and easy with a very familiar workflow to that in SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD.

To stop the phone from sliding off and allow the charger to go in the bottom of the phone, I needed to add a couple more features, which would have usually required supports. However, I went for a diamond-shaped hole for the charger cable to echo that of the diamonds on the front and back and then quickly drew a slot shape for a lightning cable and a rectangle for micro-usb and made sure they fitted fully inside the diamond. This was very easy as I could just grab the center of those shapes and check them inside the diamond cut-out shape. All good after a couple of adjustments.

Next was the lip to stop the phone sliding off. This would have required supports also as I wanted the home button or bottom of the screen to be accessible while the phone is on the stand. To get around that I simply added an angle where the lips dropped off and faded back on. Simple but effective. Then I rounded things off with a few fillets. Then it just wouldn’t be complete without the company logo!

Just to make sure I hadn’t overlooked any of the areas that may have needed supports, I took it into the 3D Print setup in xDesign and everything looked good. I wanted to use the 3D Cloud Print functionality but I hadn’t got the code from the Sindoh printer in the Fab Lab so I went for the old-fashioned method and downloaded the STL. A minute or so later I was sending the print from Cura to the Ultimaker 3 on my desk over the network. Nine minutes of xDesign use and a little shy of eight hours of 3D print time I should have something to take to the party!


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Mark Rushton

Mark Rushton

Mark is a Product Portfolio Manager for SOLIDWORKS.