Learn More About SOLIDWORKS 18 including new 3D Printing Features

SOLIDWORKS 2018 Introduces New Features for 3D Printing Industry

Dassault Systèmes’ latest update to their popular SOLIDWORKS software aims to streamline the transition from initial CAD design to 3D-printed final product. SOLIDWORKS 2018 introduces enhanced mesh geometry features to help engineers and additive manufacturers save time and simplify their workflows.

Previous versions of SOLIDWORKS also allowed users to import mesh geometry files. However, users would have to convert the files to surfaces to work with them, which could be a time-consuming process. SOLIDWORKS 2018 lets users work with mesh file formats directly, without having to convert them. Supported file types include:

  • .STL

  • .OBJ

  • .OFF

  • .PLY

  • .PLY2

Support for mesh file types isn’t the only SOLIDWORKS update that additive manufacturers are getting excited about. Here are a few other SOLIDWORKS 2018 enhancements for 3D printing:

Surface from Mesh Feature

Users can quickly transform mesh data into SOLIDWORKS Surface and Solid models by following a simple process. Designers start by choosing to create a Planar, Cylindrical, Spherical or Conical surface. After selecting a surface type, they can use the Paint Selected Facets tool to grab the faces they plan to convert to the desired surface. They don’t even have to select every surface they plan to convert: by choosing the Calculate tool, they can have SOLIDWORKS automatically gather the remaining faces and create the indicated surface.

The Surface from Mesh feature currently works best on mesh files with regular prismatic geometry rather than highly irregular shapes created from a 3D scan.

Mesh Body Type

SOLIDWORKS 2018 allows for direct manipulation of mesh files by creating a Mesh Body type. In addition to working with native mesh files, users can also transform Solid and Surface bodies into mesh by using the Convert to Mesh Body command. After converting to Mesh bodies, users can continue to use traditional SOLIDWORKS tools to modify their mesh files—something that wasn’t possible in previous versions of SOLIDWORKS. This conversion process also lets designers reference their mesh geometry when adding sketch relationships.

Additional Support for 3D Printing

Older versions of SOLIDWORKS let designers create files that were ready for 3D printing, but only if the models were Solid bodies. SOLIDWORKS 2018 now supports the 3D printing of Surface and Graphics bodies, as long as they form a watertight manifold volume. The process of printing a model is as easy as clicking File and selecting Print 3D.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 also introduces Topology Studies, which allow engineers to create and test minimum mass components based on linear static loads and restraints. The Topology Study feature gives users a smooth mesh file that is ready for 3D printing.

As additive manufacturing becomes increasingly prevalent, SOLIDWORKS is evolving to meet the needs of the 3D printing industry. As SOLIDWORKS evolves, CAD designers must ensure they have the hardware required to keep up with it. BOXX APEXX workstations are designed to meet the demands of SOLIDWORKS 2018, allowing designers to save time and become more productive.