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May 26

Making Rapid Prototyping Faster, Easier and Cheaper

3dprintingworkflow - full

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May 26

3D Printing is fast and efficient.  However the complete 3D printing process involves challenging, time-intensive steps to ensure a digital model  is fit-to-print, and also includes a quoting and ordering process before printing can begin which necessitates a system to manage models in a printing queue.

Everyday Challenges 3D Printing:

  • Checking a Model to Make Sure it is Printable
  • Estimating Time & Cost (Quote), Getting Approval (Order), Printing & Shipping (Fulfillment)
  • Staying Organized when there’s Multiple Models and Multiple Parts
  • Feeding Hungry Printers with New Models

Step 1.  Checking Models to Make sure they’re Printable

Good design can come from a good designer, or collaboration between design teams.  Usually and especially for mechanical engineering, mechanical design, and mechanical product design, this development takes place in a CAD or MCAD system like SolidWorks, SolidEdge, CATIA, Pro/E Creo or Wildfire, Siemens NX or Autodesk Inventor, which are all very capable (and in this case history-based and parametric) CAD systems.

The file formats from these CAD systems are proprietary, and one of the first problems that arises is opening up and viewing these files.  The most common way of opening up and viewing a CAD file is using a CAD program or a CAD viewer.  TeamPlatform offers an online viewer that is actually faster and simpler way view shared CAD files.

Save a lot of time without nasty plugins to view in 3D and create printable models.

CAD Programs are powerful for 3D modeler’s to edit, create and analyze geometry.  But Online viewing with TeamPlatform allows anyone with an internet connection to view 3D models without any special software.  View support for CAD includes:

  • SolidWorks Parts and Assemblies
  • CATIA, NX, Pro/E, Inventor Parts and Assemblies
  • IGES, STEP, Parasolid
  • 3D Mesh such as STL, OBJ, PLY
  • and more… for a complete list, expand the Files section here.

Online 3D viewing with WebGL (and no nasty plugins) reduces the bottle neck in time, complexity, hardware and licensing cost in working with CAD files.  But opening up CAD file formats in 3D is only the first step.  Once a file has been viewed, checked and is ready to print, the next step is getting approval to print the part which begins with generating a quote.

Step 2.  From Quote to Order to Printing then Shipping

It doesn’t matter if you are a 3D Printing Service Bureau, you have a printer at home, or you’re managing the printing division at your company.  You need to know how much a part will cost before you press the print button.  In other words, the faster you can quote, the faster you can get approval, and the faster you can print.

Online Tools to Help Quoting (along with the 3D View) include Enclosed Volume, Surface Area, and Bounding Box  (x-y-z max) calculations, all which impact printing and finishing time and cost.

Check Model

Online Tools to Associate Quotes and the Digital Model or CAD together along with any important notes such as material type or finishes can be packed together in a workspace in TeamPlatform.  Along with the geometry, it’s pretty easy to set up standard quote templates, custom fields like material and finish, and task-lists like … Get Model – Check Model – Quote – Get Order – Print Part – Ship Part – Invoice …, to keep geometry (digital model), the steps in printing, and any additional information together in one place.

  • Pre-defined files such as quotes and cost-calculators  for a specific printing process
  • Pre-defined task list for a specific printing process
  • Pre-defined custom form fields for a specific printing process

Quotes, Cost Calculators & Requirements List are all Pre-defined to help Streamline.
These screenshots are from TeamPlatform, and everything is integrated and customizable. 

Of course the 3D model is there with the other files, too.

Checking 3D Model with Online 3D Views in an integrated tool

Bounding box calculations are automatic.

Volume and Surface Area Calculations are automatic.

Step 3.  Staying Organized with Many Models and Many Parts

Lets face it.  As nice and convenient as 3D printing is, you’re not going to get to print every part your receive.  A lot of parts are never going to get printed because there isn’t enough time, or whoever needed the part printed decided it was easier to make the part another way.

TeamPlatform built-in tasks and calendar makes it easy work many different jobs all at once.

Get Model – Check Model – Quote – Print – Ship – Invoice – Close / (for a single job)

When printing jobs are ordered (or not ordered), it’s simple to manage the model, quotes and opportunity, and especially if you are working with others, it makes it a lot easier to manage multiple activities in model checking, quoting, getting approval (orders), printing, shipping and invoicing.


Get Model – Check Model – Quote – Print – Ship – Invoice – Close / (for multiple print jobs)

When you mix in a lot of printing projects with tradeshow planning, and a collaborative design project, and working on while on the road, TeamPlatform can really start to speed up the printing pipeline and keep thing organized.

What if I have nothing to Print?   Feeding  Hungry Printers

Not always do we have the part that we want to print, right?  Sometimes we’re all-out-of-ideas, all out models, and have a printer sitting, waiting for input.

 Nothing to Print.  You may need a better source for Models.

Getting data from others can be made easier with forms, like the example below, can keep your printers busy even if you are stumped.  It’s possible to have a different form for every printer, and creating new forms is simple.

Any of the requirements or data that gets uploads stays together.  Laying out the page, text, and upload link, is almost as easy as sharing the link for someone to fill out and share model data.

Feed Hungry Printers by making it easier to bring models to your printer.
Enhance the Model Source.

Once you get the model and requirements, you can quote and get an order and print.  TeamPlatform makes it easier to get data and requirements from people so that your printers can stay busy.

Native CAD files an other non-standard files are automatically analyzed, and they can be saved as an STL directly from TeamPlatform.

Link to TeamPlatform Homepage to learn more.

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