Avoid mistakes that occur when designing 3D files for 3D printing on SolidWorks

3.1. File too large

The size of your mesh file depends directly on your exporting parameters (and the complexity of your model).

Certain functions, namely text, increase the size of a file quickly.

If your file is too large to import to the Sculpteo website, try reducing the level of precision in the SolidWorks export. If your file has quite a bit of text and multiple ondulations, try exporting the file as a vector. Vector files are more suitable for extremely complex files. Try .iges or .step.

3.2. Merging Volumes

To merge your bodies together, you must use the boolean tool which allows multiple solid bodies to be merged together.

To merge surface bodies, you must use the “Surface Stitch” tool which merges bodies in a sewing-type technique. The “Combine” function will also easily merge multiple solid bodies.

To more easily make a surface body into a solid, check the “Merge entities”.


3.3. Orienting Volume

As was covered at the beginning of this tutorial, orientation is particularly important when it comes to 3D printing in order to determine the interior and exterior of an object.

If you have a solid body in SolidWorks, there won't be a problem with orientation - this is done automatically. If there is a discretion of orientation, the Sculpteo program will correct it.

3.4. Inverted Triangles

As SolidWorks functions on a system of nurbs, inverted triangles would only occur at the time of export. This would have been done automatically - as the inverting of the triangles would be universal they would not present a problem when imported onto the Sculpteo site.

3.5. Holes

SolidWorks is unable to create holes when working with solid bodies. It would be a hole created during exporting meshing process.

3.6. Multi-bodied Files

Multishell files are not possible with SolidWorks. Your file would actually be a mobile assembly, which require multiple bodies but which also need to be printed at the same time; it is thus normal that your file has multiple shells.

To repeat files (multiple copies of the same model), the most economical technique is to use the online Sculpteo tool which creates a series (of at least 20 pieces). This would optimize the positioning and price of production.

3.7. Repairing Volume

If you export a solid body, you will not have a problem with a mesh export.

It is not possible to repair defective meshes with SolidWorks as the program does not support mesh files, with the exception of extremely light .stl files.

3.8. Mesh Modification

It is not possible to import a mesh into SolidWorks, with the exception of extremely light .stl files. Mesh reduction is possible using the precision parameters during the export process.

3.9. Solid Cutting and Fragmenting

The “Cut” tool can be managed classically in the solid body tools. This can also be done with “Surface Restraint” in surface mode.

It is also possible to work with surface tools in solid mode. You can subtract one solid from another using the combine tool and choosing subtract from the menu.

When dealing with shells, the number of bodies indicated in SolidWorks can sometimes produce a “noise shell” - which in other words is an unexpected body. These are often generated by an error in the symmetry function.

3.10. Volume Selection

When working with SolidWorks, you are able to work on an assembly out of a sole piece. Then, if you want, you can export your .stl file as one edge, one surface, or (most commonly) all at once. For 3D printing, it is important that you export a file that includes your entire object (a file made of a single face will not print correctly). Exporting single parts of an object can make creating an object of multiple other objects more simple when working in SolidWorks directly.