The question every Engineer and Designer asks – can I 3D print my model? Will it be what I see on my computer screen? Every time we’ve run design challenges for 3D printable items we get that difficult question a lot. But now, there is a solution: Will it 3DPrint
Willit 3DPrint is a cloud-based software service. You take an STL file, upload it on willit3dprint.com and select your choice of 3D printers and materials. After waiting a moment you find out whether or not it can be printed. If it can, it shows off areas of roughness, where support structures will go and the time it takes to prep and 3D Print your piece. There are plans to include CO2 emission calculations!
I was lucky enough to meet the maker of the software, a certain Phillip Reeves of Econolyst at the 3D Print Show in London last month. Their aim was to help everyone get over the big bump of 3D printing – can I make it. One of the biggest misconceptions is that you can make virtually any object on a 3D printer. In all the hype, people have forgotten to add ‘almost’ in this sentence.
The truth is, some machines have better advantages than others, which means that your CAD file may be better suited to one machine rather than another. Looking for a smooth finish on your prototype for a client? Don’t think about using a Makerbot or a Cube – maybe a 3D Systems Viper.
Here I took a design that GrabCADr Ramses Chavez and I worked on this summer using GrabCAD Teams. It’s a woven cup design created in Solidworks and designed to be 3D printed, with the weaves keeping your hands cool and your liquid hot. I used Willit3DPrint to give me a good idea about the roughness of the object and the time it would take to make. From the looks of it, pretty rough. But that can be resolved by orienting the object to reduce roughness, or trying different machines. I think I would – apparently it takes 78 hours to make this cup on an EOS P385. That can’t be right…. maybe a ARCAM A2? BAM! 14 hours, 7 minutes and an Surface Roughness Ra of only 0.4 microns. I can take that.
Try it out, tool around with it. Will it 3D Print is still in beta so expect a little clunkiness. Cloud software being Cloud software, having a good internet connection helps. But compared to having to rely on my own CAM software to calculate where support structure will go – Go check it out!