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GrabCAD update by Stratasys speeds up design-to-3D print process

New Advanced FDM feature removes CAD-to-STL conversion for faster 3D print preparation

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Stratasys is aiming to simplify the design-to-3D print process for designers and engineers by eliminating the CAD-to-STL conversion roadblock in its GrabCAD Print software platform. The 3D printing giant says the software’s new Advanced FDM feature will enable users to streamline design-to-print workflows, while simultaneously improving production times and material usage, in an intuitive way.

“For design and manufacturing engineers, one of the most frustrating processes is ‘dumbing down’ a CAD file to STL format—only to require subsequent re-injection of design intent into the STL printing process,” explained Mark Walker, Lead Software Product Manager at Stratasys. “This software is engineered to do away with this complexity, letting designers reduce iterations and design cycles—getting to a high-quality, realistic prototype and final part faster than ever before.”

In other words, GrabCAD’s Advanced FDM feature enables users to speed up the print preparation process without sacrificing design intent—such as optimizing weight minimization while maintaining strength and specific mechanical properties.

The new solution integrates CAD-native build controls and does away with manual generation of complex toolpaths to speed up 3D print prep times. Additionally, the platform offers a range of intuitive features all aimed at helping users achieve desired part characteristics through automatic control of FDM build attributes. Using Advanced FDM, designers and engineers simply have to select areas on native design geometry and specify design attributes and the software will generate the best toolpaths.

Stratasys GrabCAD update FDM
Leaf spring U-bolt fixture, customized using GrabCAD Advanced FDM from Stratasys

“GrabCAD Print Advanced FDM’s geometry-based workflows have allowed us to fine-tune part builds—meeting application requirements and process parts more quickly than we could before,” said Robert Heath, Additive Manufacturing Application Engineer at industrial solutions company Eckhart. “The seamless transition of moving a build between applications is easy and intuitive.”

The software now enables users to specify desired areas of strength and rigidity on a CAD model, as well as to control infill rates, ensure material placement surrounding holes and inserts and eliminate the risk of seams. From there, GrabCAD generates an appropriate toolpath, saving significant time without compromising the indicated design specifications.

The Advanced FDM feature for GrabCAD Print can now be downloaded (for version 1.24). The software tool is supported by a number of Stratasys FDM systems, including F370, Fortus 380mc, Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition, Fortus 450mc, Fortus 400mc, Fortus 900mc and F900.

“Advanced FDM has proved invaluable in improving our part processing time,” concluded Dave Hewitson, Rapid Prototyping Programmer at British autosport team and Stratasys partner McLaren. “When processing a very large number of tools and fixtures in a very time pressured environment, it was crucial to ensure stronger tool areas were correct first time, every time. Advanced FDM negates the requirement for multiple programs—creating a more streamlined process. It’s also allowed us to more effectively control the structure of end-use car parts, something that was previously very difficult with the solutions we had in hand. This means we can get better parts to the track faster.”

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