Printing for FDM Printers
GradCAD Print is the software developed by GrabCAD to plan and execute prints for Stratasys printers. With this tool users can print directly from CAD, plan printing jobs more efficiently, and remotely monitor a print.
This tutorial is a short introduction to printing on Stratasys FDM printers.
Step 1: Get Started with GrabCAD Print
If you have not yet installed GrabCAD Print on your computer or you need to connect to a printer, head over to this tutorial for more information on how to get setup.
Step 2: Choose your Printer
There are three different ways to send your part out to print.
- Add A Printer Network
- Connect Via IP Address
- Add a Printer Template (Save to USB)
To demonstrate the additional features that GrabCAD Print offers on a network, we'll join using the first option.
*To connect using an IP address or save your tray to a USB drive follow these instructions.
After clicking on Add a Printer Network, select your printer. The program will reconfigure the tray to match the specifications of your printer and share its status.
Step 3: Add and Arrange your model onto the Tray
Now let's add our parts and arrange the tray.
Because GrabCAD Print allows us to directly import CAD files onto the tray instead of creating an STL for each part, we can import a CAD assembly directly onto the tray.
Now let's set up our tray. Click on the folder icon in the top left section of the screen.
Let's Select the arrow by Add Models and choose your assembly.
Here is a ball bearing posted onto the GrabCAD library by Arul Prakash. This assembly has 18 components, 5 of which are distinct.
If we click on the box under Assemble the model will construct the assembly and we can arrange it.
In addition, you can select a component, or the whole assembly, and duplicate it.
This feature saves you a lot of time if your assembly has several or more components.
Step 4: Check Your Tray for Rebuild Errors
Since we have finished setting up the tray now we can check the model to see if the mesh has rebuild errors.
What is a mesh?
A mesh is a 3D model consisting if polygons. When you convert your file into an STL or OBJ all of the geometries in your part are all converted into hundreds of thousands of polygons to create a closed surface model that can be 3D printed.
Often when converting a free-from surface model or CAD into a mesh a few errors may arise depending on how the model's surfaces were created. Before we print we need to correct them or risk print failure.
Let's look at a model and diagnose its errors.
The error analysis tools has diagnosed a self intersection error. Now let's correct it.
Next we will modify the print's settings.
Step 5: Choose Your Settings
Depending on the print we may want to change the material.
Let's press the setting icon and choose our model material. Today we'll be printing in ASA because that is the material currently loaded.
If you want to compare materials go to this link to select your printer and compare the materials available for purchase that work on your printer.
The slice height (layer height) greatly impacts the resolution of the print.
A larger slice height will create a part with noticeable layers, but will take much less time to print in comparison to a while a smaller slice height. But the smaller slice height will create smoother surfaces and capture much more detail.
The smaller slice height saves us 1.23 in^3 less material.
The larger slice height takes almost 5 hours less time to print.
In summary you should choose your slice height depending on your priorities of your project.
Calculating Print Time Estimates
Click on the Estimate Button in the bottom right corner of the screen
When the calculation is complete your time estimate will appear in the center of the screen along with an estimate of material usage
Step 6: Send your Print
When you are ready to send out your print you can press send.
We can also look at the queue for the printer and if the wait is too long we can use a different printer in our network.
There is one ongoing job that will end at 6:15. When it's completed we can start the print.
Thanks for reading!