If you’ve ever tried to assemble furniture without instructions, then you know it can be more complicated than it looks. When parts come in a box, but the final product is dimensional, understanding how pieces connect often requires mental processing. In 3D printing, specialized software achieves this process for you, depending on the printer manufacturer. It’s worth looking at exactly how that software works and how it guides the printing process.
There’s quite a bit of software involved in the 3D printing process. The design begins with computer-aided design (CAD) software. The first part of any 3D printing process has to be integrated with the design software like Autodesk and SOLIDWORKS and the printing software itself. HP 3D does have the ability to work with native CAD files and so is, in that sense, universal.
Then, typically, a proprietary application directly integrates with the design application or file type. Hence, the printer understands how to create layers and other necessary features for material distribution. HP’s HP 3D Build Manager works with Autodesk to manage the printing process from start to finish.
However, 3D printing software is far more robust these days. It enables enterprise-level functionality as HP 3D’s software solutions do. First, let’s look at how it works with the printer.
For more on the journey from design to printed 3D parts, check out this article detailing HP’s Smartstream technology.
Slicing software converts your CAD file to the printer’s precise and accurate instructions to create layers. The first step is breaking up the layers and identifying the linear pattern the extruder, and finishing nozzles will follow.
Once the initial pattern is determined, the software searches for other design elements, including:
Because solid objects take considerable time and material to create, the software can determine what portions of the project may instead be built “hollow” and filled with internal structures ranging from honeycomb/latticework to support “walls.” Infill density also allows the program to determine how much internal support is needed to provide for the intended durability and strength of the project.
One of the most significant benefits of 3D printing technology is printing complex objects that may be difficult or impossible to create through traditional manufacturing methods. HP enables this type of complexity through software that identifies overhangs or other structural areas that require support. The printer prints these support structures utilizing the same material that the build has. Unlike traditional manufacturing, users remove these supports after printing.
Typically, the 3D object prints directly onto the bed of the printer. Because of this positioning, various issues can occur, ranging from filament deposit anomalies to rougher finishes on the object. Therefore, slicing software can add a skirt, brim, or raft structure as a base to build the print. Users can remove these after printing, much like the process with support structures.
HP provides slicing applications with its full suite of software. This software handles your printing processes and guides production from start to finish.
HP‘s primary software offerings are the Build Manager and 3D Command Center, but they also offer other solutions to facilitate productivity and efficiency. The goal of the software solutions is not just to enable the printing process but also to offer manufacturing predictability, automated processes for production, production tracking, and dashboard monitoring for KPI tracking.
Build Manager provides a single platform to manage build processes that enables automation and optimization to save both time and costs in the production process. Further, Build Manager supports various materials, and 3D printing technologies to provide the power and control manufacturing facilities need to streamline printing jobs.
If control is what you need, then HP’s cloud-based command center is the solution for your team. While the Build Manager oversees the printing processes, the command center oversees your workflow, monitors, and tracks historical records to assist in your forecasting abilities, and provides technical information regarding the health and status of your equipment so you can avoid downtime due to maintenance and/or material needs.
The HP application interface enables teams to program jobs remotely. More importantly, the API allows integration across other software solutions and vendor software to speed up workflows and allow partners to identify potential opportunities to improve production efficiency.
The Universal Build Manager, while robust, is not viable for all HP products. To provide that same level of service, the SmartStream Build Manager provides production and printing oversight explicitly designed for HP Jet Fusion 5200, 500/300 Series, and 4200 3D Printing Solutions.
Designers and engineers value HP’s ability to provide comprehensive oversight of the production pipeline, helping improve both productivity and efficiency. While the software that turns a design into a product is immensely important to the industry, building robust software solutions that help address all the issues manufacturers see shows a greater understanding of the process from start to finish. Whether integrating vendor software, tracking and forecasting production needs, or turning complex designs into finished products, HP software solutions support all of those goals.
If you’re ready to look at how HP 3D printing, supported by HP’s software solutions, can improve your 3D printing capabilities, get in touch with the TPM team today and let our experts assist you in improving your production processes.