Is 3D CAD required to operate a 3D Printer?

3D Rendered Model

3D Rendering or 3D Print

In recent years, the demand for 3D Printing and 3D printed prototypes has increased dramatically.  At first the demand came from the usual suspects.  Manufacturing and design houses looking to shorten the time to bring their product to market by getting fast renditions of their model for conceptual design.  As the technology caught on, more and more industries began exploring the possibilities of 3D printing to either shorten their design cycle or just better convey their ideas.

Vastly different fields have begun to attempt to ride the 3D printing wave such as architecture, marketing, as well as GIS.  Surprisingly many industry professionals from these different markets continue to endure design via 2D CAD.  Unfortunately there isn’t a 3D printer on the market today that will generate a print file based on 2D data.  After decades of being suitable for design, 2D CAD is nearing the end of it’s life cycle.  Fortunately for designers stuck in the past, there are solutions for turning a 2D file into a printable model.  Direct modeling packages such as ANSYS SpaceClaim can provide the tools necessary to bring a 2D designer into the current realm of technology.


For starters, users can inexpensively and easily convert their 2D data using ANSYS SpaceClaim Engineer.  Simplistically breathe life into a 2D model and watch it become 3D right before your eyes.  Within minutes your legacy data will be primed for printing so you can share your new found tech with your colleagues and be the hero of the day.

Of course, for tech aficionados and those interested in the novelty of 3D Printing, one can run a printer without any type of 3D CAD.  Several digital content websites have been popping up in the last few years that offer access to hundreds if not thousands of 3D parts with ready to print files.  Anyone with a 3D Printer can make use of such resources and have enough files to run a 3D printer 24 hours a day for far into the foreseeable future.

However, to maximize the utility of your 3D Printer, it makes sense to own a 3D CAD package yourself.  Without 3D CAD your creativity is at the mercy of the designers who populate the 3D content sites.  While the novelty is ripe for the taking, you are limiting the potential of your 3D projects.  Until every single design concept from modern civilization is shared and cataloged, 3D CAD is still a 3D Printer’s best friend.

Section 179 Tax Deduction

Lease a 3D Printer

If you’ve been considering a purchase of capital equipment or software, End of Year 2011 is the time to make your move.  Known as the Section 179 deduction, most new and used equipment, including software, qualify for an immediate tax deduction.  As opposed to taking smaller write offs on the equipment over several years.  The maximum deduction has been raised to $500,000 for the remainder of the year.

From the IRS website

You can elect to recover all or part of the cost of certain qualifying property, up to a limit, by deducting it in the year you place the property in service. This is the section 179 deduction. You can elect the section 179 deduction instead of recovering the cost by taking depreciation deductions.

Basically, purchasing new equipment between now and the end of 2011 will allow you to completely write off the purchase in April on your 2011 return.  (Up to $500,000)

This is an excellent incentive for small business owners to purchase the capital equipment they need now!  This deduction can also be used in conjunction with a lease.  Contact Solid Technologies, Inc. for details regarding leasing.

ANSYS SpaceClaim Solutions for Machinists and Manufacturers

Top 5 Ways ANSYS SpaceClaim Helps Machinists

ANSYS SpaceClaim 3D Direct Modeling Software makes CAD simple with 4 simple commands.  Using the Pull, Move, Fill, and Combine commands, it’s easy to edit and optimize models for manufacturing, as well as to create complementary models such as fixtures.

Traditional feature-based CAD was developed for engineers to create detailed models and associated documentation. However when it’s time to make parts, complicated constraints and internal dependencies can hamper the success of the job. Too often, manufacturing experts can get caught up in the theory of CAD and lose focus on getting their parts to market.   If the designs aren’t right, it can be difficult to make the changes on-the-fly.  Instead, change requests need to go back to the design team.  ANSYS SpaceClaim’s unique user interface enables anyone to work in 3D but, it is not a lifestyle like other complex CAD systems. Engineers who aren’t CAD specialists — and don’t want to be — can learn ANSYS SpaceClaim in hours not weeks.

With ANSYS SpaceClaim’s Trace Parts integration you can convert your old .dxf and .dwg files into useable 3D data.  Import and transform 2D to 3D with a simple sketching tool, that allows you to draw in 2D and creates 3D models automatically.

Clean dirty and corrupted geometry with simple, automated repair tools such as Stitch and Missing Faces.  Take incomplete CAD data made up of surfaces and turn it into solid geometry with ease.

It’s easier to accurately convey the manufacturing process using ANSYS SpaceClaim.  Clearly articulate your machining steps in a simple to follow 3D fashion with notes and dimensions.

Work in a familiar 2D environment and save files as .dxf and .dwg.  Even modify the model while in a 2D view.

Remove or adjust rounds and chamfers, hole sizes, face offsets, draft angles and other geometry with no knowledge of how the model was built.  ANSYS SpaceClaim provides simple tools to optimize the model and prepare for machining tasks.

Let ANSYS SpaceClaim 3D Direct Modeling software simplify your manufacturing process.  Skip the complexities of traditional CAD systems, win more bids, reduce waste, and get parts and products to market faster.

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