As usual, last week at SOLIDWORKS World was very busy and we enjoyed every minute of it. During the event we talk to a lot of people during video interviews, on the exhibit floor, at conference sessions, classes, and really informally over coffee, dinner, or a beer. We talked about many things over the course of the conference, but usually came back to the common question, “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen on the exhibit floor?”
Below are what I considered to be among the most significant innovations put on display this year at SOLIDWORKS World 2018 (excluding SOLIDWORKS itself, of course) in four categories — hardware, software, service, and best of show.
Best Hardware: HP 300/500 Series 3D Printers – Capability and Affordability
HP Inc. expanded its 3D printing portfolio with the introduction of its new Jet Fusion 300/500 series of 3D printers that produce engineering-grade, functional parts in full color, black or white – with voxel (basically, a 3D pixel, where the position of each voxel is inferred based upon its position relative to other voxels) control – in a fraction of the time of other solutions per HP’s claims. Depending on configuration and color preference, the Jet Fusion 300/500 series is available starting in the $50,000s, which is impressive for the capabilities the machines offer.
“HP is committed to democratizing 3D design and manufacturing, unleashing new possibilities for millions of innovators around the world,” said Stephen Nigro, President of 3D Printing, HP Inc. “No matter your industry, no matter your design complexity, no matter what colors fit your business needs – black, white, or the full color spectrum – the new HP Jet Fusion 300/500 series gives you the freedom to create brilliant new parts liberated from the constraints of traditional production methods.”
HP’s unique ability to control part properties at the individual voxel level enables the design and production of previously unconceivable parts and is now available, for the first time, in full color. HP is already engaging in the co-development of new color applications with universities and businesses around the world including Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Yazaki Corp., and Youngstown State University, and others.
HP 300/500 Series 3D Printers Introduced
In addition to providing voxel-level control, the new Jet Fusion 300/500 series of 3D printers have a compact design, enhanced workflow, and the first integrated and automated materials delivery system, enabling greater unattended operation, ease of use, and dramatically increasing production efficiency and output. The Jet Fusion 300/500 series also supports the three leading color file formats (OBJ, VRML, and 3MF) enabling designers to reliably and easily produce the parts they want without file conversion or data corruption.
The HP Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series offerings include:
- HP Jet Fusion 340 (Black and White) / 380 (Color): for customers who have smaller part-size needs or who commonly print fewer parts per build.
- HP Jet Fusion 540 (Black and White) / 580 (Color): with a bigger build size than the 300 series for customers who have larger part-size needs or heavier production demands.
“I’m excited about the range of applications for functional multi-color 3D printing,” said Terry Wohlers, President, Wohlers Associates Inc. “It’s good to see that HP is targeting this interesting and largely untapped opportunity. The possibilities are infinite.”
The HP Jet Fusion 300/500 3D printers will launch with a new material, HP 3D High Reusability CB PA 12. Parts using this material will have mechanical properties similar to the HP 3D High Reusability PA 12 material from HP’s industrial solutions.
Leveraging HP’s unique Open Platform for materials and applications development, HP will work with its growing materials ecosystem to grow the material breadth and drive costs down. The Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series will ultimately support similar materials as the Jet Fusion 3200/4200/4210, and also support unique materials that enable color or other voxel-level capabilities.
The HP Jet Fusion 300/500 series of 3D printers is available for order today and will begin shipping in the second half of 2018. For complete details and technical specifications please visit HP.com/go/Color3DPrint.
At SOLIDWORKS World HP Inc. and Dassault Systèmes announced their collaboration to align future technology roadmaps to ensure that users have access to the latest design tools integrated with HP’s voxel-level technology, as well as design tools for new materials. This roadmap includes upcoming releases of the SOLIDWORKS portfolio to support the full-color capabilities of HP’s new Jet Fusion 300/500 series 3D printers. Both companies are also strong supporters of the 3MF standard to ensure reliable exchange of color information for 3D printing. They will continue to test, validate, and support 3MF for their solutions to assure accuracy of information exchange across the manufacturing workflow.
Best Software: 3DXpert – Direct Path From SOLIDWORKS To Additive Manufacturing
This was the toughest category because there so many noteworthy new and improved software products demonstrated. In the end, though, I found 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS from 3D Systems to be one of the most compelling for a couple of reasons – first, for its capabilities; second, it’s a free add-in for SOLIDWORKS subscribers. Free? I was surprised, too. The free version is called the Standard Edition, and the Pro Edition with additional capabilities is available for purchase.
3DXpert For SOLIDWORKS Overview
3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS is a complementary software for SOLIDWORKS, providing designers and engineers with everything needed to prepare and optimize designs for 3D printing. A click of a button in SOLIDWORKS brings native CAD data directly into 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS and provides an extensive toolset to easily analyze, prepare and optimize designs for additive manufacturing. In other words, 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS provides a direct path from SOLIDWORKS design to additive manufacturing and eliminates the need for a back and forth iterative process.
Some of the capabilities of 3DXpert include:
- Native Data Transfer — click a button in SOLIDWORKS to continue working with your native CAD data (both solid and mesh) without conversion. Maintain data integrity including analytic geometry, part topology and color-coding. There is also automatic healing of both STL and B-rep (solids and surfaces) geometry when required.
- Ensure Printable Geometry — Automated best fit – minimize printing time, supports and tray area usage. Shrinkage compensation – apply scaling to compensate for part shrinkage during build. Hybrid CAD – use direct modeling, parametric and history-based hybrid (B-rep and mesh) CAD tools to improve part printability
- Optimize Structure – minimize weight and material usage and apply surface textures.
- Design Supports – ensure quality 3D prints with minimal supports
- Arrange Build Plate and Send To Print – optimize utilization of tray area and printer time
3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS is machine agnostic and can work with any printer and technology, although the product’s main focus is currently on powder bed metal (DMLS), however, the part positioning on tray, lattice design and send to print tools are suitable for any printer and technology. Dedicated supports’ functionality is optimized for powder bed metal (DMLS) and Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF, FDM, MJP). Support free technologies such as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Plaster-Based Printing (PP, CJP) are supported as well.
In terms of exporting data to the 3D printer, 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS can export slicing as CLI C0 contours to any machine that can read it. Geometry can also be sent to a 3D printer as mesh data in various formats (STL, 3MF, OBJ, VRML).
Best Service: Xometry – On-Demand Quoting and Manufacturing Services
Xometry is a company committed to bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. with its software platform for building a reliable and scalable manufacturing program. It employs a unique machine-learning approach that provides its customers with optimal manufacturing capabilities at the best price based on parameters input by customers.
Founded in 2014, Xometry is transforming American manufacturing through a proprietary software platform that provides on-demand manufacturing to a diverse customer base, ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies. The platform provides an efficient way to source high-quality custom parts, with 24/7 access to instant pricing, expected lead time and manufacturability feedback that recommends best processes and practices. With well more than 100 manufacturing partners, the manufacturing capabilities include CNC machining, 3D printing, sheet metal forming and fabrication, and urethane casting with over 200 materials. Xometry’s customers include General Electric, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, NASA, and the United States Army.
Video Interview With Xometry at SOLIDWORKS World 2017
Xometry’s technology platform enables it to leverage the expertise and capacity of more than 200,000 manufacturers across the United States who have on average less than 20 employees. Xometry’s partners are spending less time bidding for new business and more time producing parts.
Xometry employs strict quality control to ensure it’s only offering up the best vendors. When a manufacturer initially signs up to join the network, Xometry screens the company by giving it only one job to complete. Instead of shipping the product directly to the customer, it’s first sent to Xometry; where their team assesses the quality of the product and whether it meets standards established by the customer and Xometry. Customers are also encouraged to rate their vendors based on their performance, and any manufacturers flagged for producing poor-quality products will receive additional scrutiny from Xometry.
Xometry’s capabilities are available as a free SOLIDWORKS Instant Quoting add-in that can be accessed directly from the SOLIDWORKS interface.
Some of the features available in the SOLIDWORKS add-in include:
- Instantly price a design inside SOLIDWORKS
- Feedback on how to best make the parts
- Transparent and instant lead time estimation
- Add notes and drawings to further specify part features, finishes, and tolerances
- Order custom parts with one click
- Adjust parts based on manufacturability analysis to avoid potential fabrication issues
- Insight into pricing, lead-times, and manufacturability impacts for materials and processes
- Re-quote directly in SOLIDWORKS to explore design iterations
- Access manufacturability resources, guidelines, and knowledge base
Is Xometry the first company to explore the possibilities of on-demand manufacturing? Well, no, not exactly. However, we have been impressed with the company’s approach, growing partner network and customer base, relationship with SOLIDWORKS, and substantial financial connections that will help it continue down a bright path.
Best of Show: Desktop Metal Live Parts – Auto-Generate Optimized Part Designs
Although a technology preview right now, Desktop Metal Live Parts awed just about everyone who witnessed it being demonstrated, myself included.
Live Parts is an experimental technology that applies morphogenetic principles and advanced simulation to auto-generate part designs very quickly. Desktop Metal’s vision for Live Parts is to enable users to realize a new potential for additive manufacturing—including material and cost efficiency, as well as design flexibility.
Desktop Metal Live Parts Discussion
At this point, Live Parts is actually an explorative extension of generative design, a form-finding process that can mimic nature’s evolutionary approach to design.
Overview Of Adjusting Live Parts Cell Properties
Similar to how plants grow, there are no straight lines in parts except where needed for mounting regions, symmetries, or keep out zones. This makes them well suited for additive manufacturing processes, where typical design limitations don’t apply.
Some of Live Parts most notable capabilities include:
- Real-time simulation of static and dynamic load – A GPU-accelerated multi-physics engine models parts as living organisms so that parts can be generated in real-time based on constraints and load conditions. Loads can be linear, radial, rotational, and dynamic.
- Auto-generates designs in minutes – Nature-inspired algorithms drive Live Parts. Unlike topology optimization, no pre-existing part design is needed. Parts grow and adapt like plants and bones, changing shape to find the best form for their environment and function.
- Integrated with SOLIDWORKS – Define constraints and forces inside the Live Parts for SolidWorks add-in before exporting to Live Parts for part generation. Parts can be exported back to SOLIDWORKS, auto-assembled, and further analyzed.
Very interesting and innovative technology from a relatively new company.
And We Have A Winner!
At our exhibit booth last week at SOLIDWORKS World we encouraged attendees to drop a business card off for a chance to win an Amazon Echo with a random drawing at the end of the conference. We received a lot of business cards and the winner of our drawing was Victor Oswaldo Carreon.Victor is an electromechanical engineer working with Intelligy a SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller from Mexico, who specializes in data management. He says he went to SWW2018 to see the different solutions that SolidWorks will release in the future, as well as see the solutions that the partners offer to customers and resellers. Congratulations Victor!
Victor Oswaldo Carreon Won An Amazon Echo From MCADCafe At SOLIDWORKS World 2018