Finding the best 3D printing software can be tricky and leave you wondering where to start when utilizing 3D printing for your business or personal needs. Companies and individuals have varying benchmarks, diverse perspectives and unique preferences when it comes to 3D printing software; it largely depends on the industry you are working within and the specific products you are trying to create.
This blog post will give an overview of what to look for in 3D printing software.
What to Look for in 3D Printing Software
When considering which 3D printing software to utilize, you need to consider precisely what you are going to be using the software for. Generally speaking, 3D printing software relates to either CAD software or 3D modeling software, which are very different tools.
- Both can be used for 3D printing but CAD software is most often used in the automotive, aerospace, aeronautics and architecture industries, where functionality is key to the process.
- 3D modeling on the other hand offers more artistic freedom since designs are more concerned with visual impression rather than mechanical function.
Important 3D Printing Software Features
There are numerous benefits to using 3D printing software but the biggest benefit your software should provide is a smooth, obstacle-free 3D printing workflow.
To do that, make sure the software you use allows you to do the following:
Print directly from CAD
Find a software that won’t waste time converting and fixing STL files. GrabCAD Print, for example, allows you to print directly from CAD. You can also print in VRML, OBJ and native 3D CAD file formats.
Use intuitive tools
Make sure the 3D printing software you use provides access to smart default settings, tool tips, and notifications which will guide you through a seamless printing process.
Preview what you’re making
Any 3D printing software should give you detailed views of your model, tray, and slice preview so you can make necessary adjustments before going to print.
Prioritize print queues
Make sure that you have scheduling control so you can schedule your 3D prints based on machine availability and estimated job duration.
Track material levels
Management reporting lets you know how much material your printer has. This feature is great for planning and budgeting.
Be sure the software can also analyze printer history and printer utilization with reports and dashboards. This will make reporting to “higher-ups” easier.
Print from anywhere and schedule remotely
In today’s world, remote access is essential -- especially if your printers are scattered across multiple locations. Using a software that is cloud-connected will be a big help.
With a cloud-connection, you can access your print job directly from any browser or your mobile device. You should then be able to print to any supported printer in your company, even if it’s in a different geographic location.
Find out when your print job is complete with email notifications. It should also alert you if an error has occurred, such as running out of material.
Leveraging Your 3D Printing Software with Your Printers
The 3D printing software you select should not only have the features you need, but should also provide the best experience for the printers you have.
If your job requires a lot of PolyJet projects, then you should consider software that offers the following features:
- Pantone Color matching
- Slicer technology
- The ability to print varying levels of transparency, translucency, and opaqueness
If you’re in the industrial sector and mainly use FDM printers, you might want to focus on the following features and capabilities:
- Advanced design controls so you can do any of the following:
- Thicken any selected faces
- Make bodies more rigid or less rigid
- Select different infill patterns and densities for different bodies in your model
- Capture your printing and post-processing instructions with your model.
A great example of this is if your 3D printing software allowed you to select a surface or body, add your instruction, and export it as a PDF to accompany your model as it is printed and post-processed during assembly, polishing, and painting.
Looking to the Future of 3D Printing Software
According to a recent report, the 3D printing market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 19.8% between 2018- 2023. Over time, 3D printing technology has proved its seemingly endless capabilities and is widely utilized in different industries including automotive, healthcare, consumer products, and architecture.
Growth of supporting 3D printing software is also a major factor that is expected to bolster the growth of the global 3D printing market in upcoming years.
GrabCAD Print is one example of 3D printing software that not only simplifies the preparation workflow but also provides helpful insight around printer usage -- and it's free!
Sign up for GrabCad Print today!