Many beginners in 3D printing are turning to SOLIDWORKS for its comprehensive set of 3D printing visualization and analysis tools. In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of setting up and utilizing SOLIDWORKS’ Print3D tool to ensure your design is optimized for successful 3D printing. From analyzing your design for printability to exporting files for printing, we will cover all the steps to help you seamlessly navigate through the 3D printing process using SOLIDWORKS.

Preparation is Key

Does My Part Fit on My Printer?

Clearly understanding the limitations of your 3D printer’s print area is crucial before proceeding with the 3D printing process in SOLIDWORKS. By selecting the appropriate 3D printer and defining the print bed location, you can ensure that your design fits within the designated print volume, avoiding any potential printing issues.

Understanding the 3D Printing Process

Little details can make a big difference when it comes to 3D printing. For instance, analyzing your design for supports, layer height, and wall thickness/gap can help optimize the printing process and improve the overall quality of your 3D printed model. By utilizing the visualization and analysis tools within SOLIDWORKS, you can gain a better understanding of the requirements specific to your design.

Design Considerations

Design for 3D Printing: Tips and Factors to Consider

There’s a lot to consider when designing for 3D printing. Factors such as print volume, orientation, and support structures play a crucial role in the success of your print. It’s important to ensure your design fits within the print area and that it can be supported properly for a quality finish. Knowing your printer’s capabilities and limitations will help in designing efficiently.

How to Optimize Your Design for 3D Printing

The key to optimizing your design for 3D printing lies in understanding the software tools available. Tools like Build Analysis can help identify areas that may require supports, while setting the correct layer height and thickness/gap analysis ensures a smooth printing process. The ability to export files in various formats allows for seamless integration with your printer’s slicer software, making the printing process more efficient.

Analyzing Your 3D Print

Can I Analyze My 3d Print?

Little tweaks can make a big difference in 3D printing. Utilize the Build Analysis tool to identify faces that require support and adjust layer height to ensure the desired print quality. Don’t forget the Thickness/Gap Analysis for FDM prints!

How to Use SOLIDWORKS Simulation for 3D Printing Analysis

Printing accuracy is crucial for successful 3D prints. SOLIDWORKS Simulation offers tools like Build Analysis to detect areas needing support and Layer Height visualization to assess print resolution. Use these features to optimize your design for flawless 3D printing results.

The Build Analysis tool helps in identifying faces that may require supports, while the Layer Height feature aids in evaluating the print resolution to achieve the desired quality of the print. Utilize the Thickness/Gap Analysis for FDM prints to calculate the ideal wall thickness based on the material and layer height settings.

Exporting Your File

How Do I Export the File to Be 3D Printed?

Many 3D printing enthusiasts are often curious about how to export their designs from SOLIDWORKS for printing. To do so, simply select your desired format (STL, 3MF, AMF) under Save To File in the Print3D command and click Save File. This allows you to easily export your design in a compatible format for 3D printing.

Choosing the Right File Format for 3D Printing

There’s a variety of file formats available for exporting your 3D designs for printing. Depending on your specific needs, you can choose between STL, 3MF, or AMF formats. Each format has its own advantages and use cases, so it’s important to select the one that best suits your printing requirements.

For instance, STL files are a common choice for their compatibility with most 3D printers, while 3MF files offer additional information such as material properties. AMF files are XML-based and allow for more detailed specifications like color and scale. By considering your design and printing needs, you can choose the right file format for a successful 3D printing process.

Direct 3D Printing from SOLIDWORKS

Can I 3D Print Directly From SOLIDWORKS?

For users whose 3D printer manufacturer uses the SOLIDWORKS 3D Print API, it is possible to 3D print directly from SOLIDWORKS. Once you finish using the Print3D command in SOLIDWORKS, you can click OK and the 3D printing rapid prototyping dialog box will open to prepare your printer for printing. If your printer does not support the SOLIDWORKS 3D Print API, you can still export the file and use your printer’s slicer software.

Setting Up Your SOLIDWORKS Environment for Direct 3D Printing

Direct 3D printing from SOLIDWORKS requires you to set up the 3D printing options typically found in slicer software. Job Quality determines the print layer height, Infill Percentage adjusts the part solidity, and options like Include Raft and Include Supports can be configured to enhance printing quality. These settings provide a basis for understanding the 3D printing requirements of your design before sending it to the printer.

Customizing Your 3D Print

How Do I Set My 3D Printing Options?

The tools available inside of the Print3D command in SOLIDWORKS allow you to customize various 3D printing options. You can set the print layer height, infill percentage, include raft, and include supports to tailor your print to your specific requirements.

Advanced 3D Printing Options in SOLIDWORKS

In the matter of advanced 3D printing options in SOLIDWORKS, you have a range of settings to consider for optimizing your prints. Here are some key features:

  1. Print Quality: Customize print layer height and resolution.
  2. Infill Percentage: Adjust the percentage of the model that is solid for strength and print time considerations.

Understanding and utilizing these advanced options will help you achieve the optimal results for your 3D prints.

Final Words

Summing up, 3D printing from SOLIDWORKS is made easy with the Print3D tool, offering visualization and analysis tools to ensure your design fits on your printer and meets your printing requirements. From analyzing supports and layer height to exporting files in different formats, SOLIDWORKS simplifies the process of preparing your design for 3D printing. While direct printing is possible with compatible printers, exporting files for slicer software remains a flexible option. Overall, SOLIDWORKS provides a user-friendly interface to navigate the complexities of 3D printing, making it accessible and efficient for users in various workplace settings.


Q: Can I 3D Print directly from SOLIDWORKS?

A: Yes, you can 3D print directly from SOLIDWORKS if your 3D printer manufacturer uses the SOLIDWORKS 3D Print API. After using the Print3D command and clicking OK, the 3D printing rapid prototyping dialog box will open to ensure that your printer’s build area is empty. The printer will warm up and get ready to print. If your 3D printer does not use the SOLIDWORKS 3D Print API, you can export the file and import it into your printer’s slicer software for printing.

Q: How do I set my 3D printing options in SOLIDWORKS?

A: To set your 3D printing options directly from SOLIDWORKS, you can adjust settings similar to those in slicer software. Job Quality allows you to select the print layer height, Infill Percentage enables you to choose the percentage of the part that is solid (options include 0%, 10%, 40%, 70%, and 100%). The Include Raft option builds the print on a disposable material raft, which can aid removal after printing. Include Supports adds supports for model faces in open space without any part support, with this option being selected by default.

Q: What file formats can be used for exporting 3D print files from SOLIDWORKS?

A: SOLIDWORKS allows you to export part and assembly files for 3D printing in various formats. These include STL (.stl) files, 3D Manufacturing Format (.3mf) files, and Additive Manufacturing File Format (.amf) files. STL files describe only the surface geometry, 3mf files contain 3D model and material information, while amf files store color, scale, materials, and geometry data for the object to be 3D printed.