Additive Manufacturing > About Additive Manufacturing
About Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a type of process that creates three-dimensional objects from 3D digital models. The Additive Manufacturing application allows you to prepare models for printing and then print them, or send them to an external provider for printing.
Using the Additive Manufacturing application, you can perform a number of tasks:
Create a tray assembly that contains the models you want to print in a single print operation.
Directly print your models using a Stratasys, 3D Systems, or other 3D printer that is connected through a Materialise build processor.
Set the colors and materials of the printed models, when you use a Stratasys printer.
Automatically assign available colors in the current 3D printer palette to the models on the tray, when you use a Stratasys printer.
Set the printing speed and quality, when you use a Stratasys printer.
Set the scale of the printed models, without changing the original models.
Generate support structures, when you are connected through a Materialise build processor. A build processor is software that enables Creo to connect with a 3D printer.
Duplicate models on the tray, to print several copies in a single operation.
Set the surface quality of the printed models, by affecting the STL file resolution.
Analyze your tray assembly and receive warnings about features that cannot be printed, such as thin walls and narrow gaps.
Display the support material. This is a visual representation that does not affect the way the 3D printer prints the model.
Add models to the tray, position them, and optimize the tray volume.
Save and manage the tray assembly as an Assembly file, together with the location, orientation, sizes and applied colors of the models on the tray, and other parameters.
Place an order to 3D print the model using a service bureau.
Preparing Models for Printing
When you prepare models to be printed in 3D, you create a tray assembly. The tray assembly file saves which models you want to print, their position on the tray, the selected colors and materials, their size, and other relevant parameters. You can add other parts and assemblies to a tray assembly. You can save this file for future use.
Printing Parts and Assemblies
You can print parts and assemblies that were created in Creo Parametric or in Creo Direct. 3D printers print specific file types, such as STL (stereolithography) or 3MF (3D Manufacturing Format) files. When you are connected to a Stratasys printer, you can assign 3D printer colors to the model, and get an estimation of the maximal required build and support materials, using the Additive Manufacturing application. The colors and materials you apply using the Additive Manufacturing application, together with the scaling operations you perform do not modify the original model. When you choose to perform printability validation, you can fix the issues the system found or ignore them and print the model as it is. You can then print the model or save the file as a tray assembly.
You cannot print a skeleton model.
The Quality of the Printed Surfaces of the Model
The quality of the surfaces of the printed model is set by the STL file resolution. The file resolution is determined by the chord height. When the system creates an STL file, it tessellates the model surface. The chord height is the maximal allowed distance between the model surface and the tessellated surface. When the chord height is minimal, the STL resolution and the quality of the printed model are the highest. The STL resolution does not affect the speed of printing.
The Quality and Speed of the Printing
When you print using Stratasys printers, you can change the speed of the printing. When you print in high quality, the printing process is longer. When you are using a single material, you can either print each individual layer (high quality printing, which is more time consuming), or print two layers at a time (high speed printing, which is quicker). When you are using multiple materials, the speed of printing is always set to digital materials. The speed of printing does not affect the amount of the required build and support materials.
Working in Disconnected Mode
When a printer in not available, you can use the default PTC generic printer, or you can define a user-defined printer. This printer serves as a placeholder. This allows you to prepare your model for printing by using the Additive Manufacturing application. You can perform printability validation and save the CAD data together with the model translation and rotation on the tray as a tray assembly.
Adding Annotations
You can add simple annotations to the tray assembly. You can select the annotation plane, and add notes and symbols. You can also add notes to surfaces.