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 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.