3D printing is becoming a big deal, and it’s upending the entire business. AutoCAD jumped on it right away, giving designers the chance to show off their models in beautiful physical displays, just as they appear on monitors. AutoCAD 2017 ups the ante by taking things further with new ways of customizing models and readying them for print so that you’re not wasting materials during the printing process with frustrating trial and error.
Sending 3D CAD Models to 3D Printers
You can still use the “Send to 3D Print Service” option in the Application menu under the Publish tab to launch the 3DPRINTSERVICE command (which was formerly 3DPRINT). Or you can use the new 3DPRINT method, which now uses the Autodesk Print Studio.
You also access these different tools from the Output ribbon tab on the 3D Print Panel if you have the 3D Modeling workspace active.
Once you have chosen either tool, it will prompt you to select the 3D objects you want to print. They can be 3D Solids or Watertight meshes. You can select the objects with a BOX (Window/Crossing) or type ALL to select the entire drawing. Objects on Layers that are turned OFF, Frozen, or Locked will not be selected. This includes using the “ALL” selection method where the normal AutoCAD behavior would select objects only turned OFF. Objects must be visible and selected in order to send them to the printer.
Once the objects are loaded, the 3D Print Options dialog box will be displayed on the screen, enabling you to edit the selection set and the Output dimension settings. You can also Pan, Zoom, and Orbit around an Output preview.
Once you are done with the settings and you click OK, you will be prompted to save your file to a .STL (STereoLithography) format. If you chose the 3DPRINTSERVICE option, you can then send the .STL file to a 3D Print Service company. If you chose the 3DPRINT (Print Studio) method, it will automatically open Autodesk Print Studio (a separate software program that ships with AutoCAD 2017). If PRINT STUDIO was not installed prior, it will prompt you to install the program. If the program was installed but requires updates, you will be prompted to install the updates. (If this is the case, I would just say Yes to All to ensure all files are up to date.)
Print Studio Dialog Boxes You May Encounter During 3D Printing
If the software was installed prior and there are no updates that need to be installed, the Autodesk Print Studio program should just open with your 3D model loaded. You may have to take a few steps in order to have your 3D model display correctly, depending on settings. I would start with setting the Printer, so that it connects to a 3D printer, or you can create a print file to send later. Next I would look at setting the scale. If you choose the scale to fit, this should allow you to see everything and should serve as a reliable default until you can properly learn the settings and setups to customize them to your exact liking. (Note: Like with most Autodesk software products, remember to use the Quick Start, Help file, and the hover tool tips to lean the options and features quickly.)
With your 3D Model displayed, you can now start tweaking the settings to prepare your model with the proper materials and printer settings to ensure that your 3D Printed Model is successful the first time with minimal cost in materials and time by avoiding trial and error.
The Print Studio for AutoCAD becomes more significant as more people catch on to the value of 3D Printing, the future of mass production for every avenue of business. You can download the Print Studio at Spark, Autodek’s platform for manufacturing, and you can keep up with new developments in 3D Printing with AutoCAD 2017 by keeping up with our blog.