Software is the Future

After its acquisition, the GrabCAD team took on a new challenge: to develop software that could streamline and simplify 3D printing for Stratasys printers.

With a product development methodology focused squarely on the customer and developing solutions to meet their needs, the mission for GrabCAD Print began with the themes of making 3D printing easy, accessible, and connected.

GrabCAD Print is an intuitive, easy-to-use software that allows for simplified preparing, scheduling, monitoring, and reporting of 3D print jobs. With one of its most significant innovations, the ability to read and understand CAD files natively eliminating the need for .STL translation, GrabCAD Print offers an efficient workflow that streamlines job management in Shared Office and Model Shop environments using Stratasys FDM and PolyJet printers.

The software was released to the public in November of 2016 and, because of GrabCAD’s agile philosophy of software development, is updated monthly based on customer feedback and requests.

“GrabCAD Print focuses on simplifying the planning, scheduling, execution, monitoring, and reporting functions of 3D printing,” according to Jon Stevenson, GrabCAD’s first Vice President of Technology and now Stratasys’ Chief Technology Officer. “We developed a CAD native job planner that can read CAD files directly instead of requiring a legacy .STL file format and introduced concepts like mobile apps for monitoring and job history reporting – a huge simplification for our users.”

With notifications and reporting, GrabCAD Print also makes it easy to keep track of several printers or jobs at once, especially handy for those who operate multiple machines or receive numerous requests for print jobs across several departments or locations.

“It makes print setup easy for individuals, but even easier for teams that need to share printers and set up jobs where an engineer is requesting a job but someone else is operating the printer,” Stevenson noted. “We have functionality like online scheduling that works on your local network, but also over the Internet so you can schedule printers in multiple locations. We have a mobile app so you can monitor your print job even when you’re not near the printer. Those type of functionalities make it much easier to manage 3D printing.”

Product development and manufacturing continues to change. As GrabCAD was founded around the concepts of making agile product development and crowdsourcing easier via online communities and project collaboration tools, manufacturers are now embracing initiatives like Industry 4.0. In the future, seamless linkage between digital (CAD) and physical products, smart manufacturing systems, machine learning, and interconnected, on-demand supply chains will disrupt current processes focused exclusively on computerization and automation in factories.

“The big transformation that’s happening in the 3D printing industry right now is additive manufacturing,” Stevenson said. “It’s no longer 3D printing for concepts or prototyping, it’s producing tooling and end-use parts, parts that are in your car or parts that fly on an aircraft. That’s the big change, and the requirements are completely different. The printing technologies are different. The software is different. The materials are different. And we’re excited to be a part of that.”

3D Printing will play a big role in Industry 4.0, especially in support of on-demand custom parts, automation and materials innovations will help support the push into manufacturing of tooling and end-use parts. Stratasys and GrabCAD will continue to lead the way, combining 3D Printing systems and material improvements with integrated software to enable companies to fully leverage professional-quality 3D Printing as a differentiator in bringing products to market.  

Interested in learning more about GrabCAD Print? Then you might find this blog useful.