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What you need to know about GrabCAD Print Pro for FDM

By <a href="https://mfg.trimech.com/author/andrew-miller/" target="_self">Andrew Miller</a>

By Andrew Miller

Posted on August 2, 2023

GrabCAD Print has been the signature slicer and print management software for Stratasys printers for several years. Users of all skill types and levels have been able to easily send print jobs to their Stratasys printers – or wield the advanced features to enhance their parts, increasing strength, durability, print speed, and more.

GrabCAD Print Upgrade

Now GrabCAD Print is getting an upgrade – GrabCAD Print Pro. This advanced version of the free GrabCAD Print software brings more capabilities than ever before giving large manufacturing facilities more control and accessibility over their additive manufacturing workflow.

FeatureGrabCAD Print StandardGrabCAD Print Pro
Build File Integrity Check
Multi Printer Control
Organize Print Queues (FDM and PolyJet Only)
Real time Notifications
Business Intelligence
FIPS Compatible
Accuracy Center
Manufacturing Templates
3rd Party Plugins
Nesting (SAF Only)
Per Part Estimation (FDM and SAF Only)
3D Array (FDM and SAF Only)
Position Tool
Assemble/Dissolve (FDM and SAF Only)
Sustainability Estimation (FDM Only)Coming Soon
DFAM Checks (FDM Only)Coming Soon
Textures (FDM Only)Coming Soon

Here we will be going over several key differences between these software solutions and what you can expect for FDM printing:

Labels

With additive manufacturing being used for end-use parts more often than ever before, the ability to keep track of parts and batches has quickly become a valuable tool. The labelling feature on GrabCAD Print Pro allows large manufacturing facilities to label batches of parts directly, easily, and quickly on the part geometry itself. You can pick a surface feature of your part and emboss or deboss text automatically with every tray. You can also create templates to programmatically add an index number, file name, or other identification. Changing these templates will change all instances of their use in the project.

Large manufacturing facilities that want to track where parts came from, which machine and which batch, or send custom samples to clientele can utilize this label feature to ensure documentation and traceability. Inventory management, compliance and certification ID handles, simple usage/assembly instructions, and the iterative design process are all great examples of how this feature can streamline existing additive workflows.

Accuracy Center

The accuracy center was made for users that partake in iterative design – especially with OpenAM’s open materials program on the Fortus 450. When working in a new material or one that is difficult to print with, the accuracy center allows users to scan their test print and compare it to the CAD model. Changes are made to create a WAM, or Warp-Adjusted Model, which corrects difficult or erroneous features in the STL so when it is sent to the printer the final part is significantly more accurate to the original CAD model.

GrabCAD Print Pro

With this additional feature, quality control departments will be able to verify the accuracy of complex parts within the slicer itself. When used in tangent with Insight, this also offers a roadmap to toolpath optimization to fine tune for specific features. Assembly verification, material print process parameter research, and consistent print jobs come as a result of leveraging the accuracy center to its full potential.

Per-Part Estimates

This feature is quite helpful for factory floors or offices that need to share build trays, or application engineers like myself! Traditionally, GrabCAD Print would provide an estimate for all model and support material usage on a build tray to give a total amount used in cubic inches. To measure each individual part’s material usage one would have to run an estimation on that part alone on a build tray – a tedious task for crowded trays like the one image below.

GrabCAD Print Pro Part Estimate

GrabCAD Print Pro Part Estimate

With the Pro version of GrabCAD Print, the traditional Tray Summary remains as-is but is now accompanied by an extensive Build Report: an itemized list of each individual part on the build tray, quantity, and model/support material usage on a part by part basis. See the image below for a preview.

GrabCAD Print Pro Per Part Estimates

GrabCAD Print Pro Per Part Estimates

Now, various users from multiple departments or users constrained by numerous budgets, can track their material usage, copy it to their clipboard to paste into reports, and/or export the Build Report in a CSV or XLSX file directly for record keeping. When combined with the next two features, Per-Part Estimation helps increase automation, reduce printer turnover time, and maximize efficiency!

Assembly/Disassembly Grouping

Recognizing native CAD files and distinguishing between parts versus assemblies is a well-loved feature of GrabCAD Print and nothing new. Crowding parts together on a build tray to optimize print speed is nothing new either – however, the ability to position parts manually and group them together to become considered a single entity, is a new feature in the Pro version.

Assembly Feature Warning in GrabCAD Print Pro

Assembly Feature Warning in GrabCAD Print Pro

The two separate files we are looking to print, shown above, cannot be placed closer together reducing usable build area on the tray. As shown, when placed closer together manually GrabCAD Print will throw up a red flag saying “Generated models are too close. Move the models further apart or change the minimum Model Spacing to a smaller value”.

This value can go as low as 0.25” depending on the machine, but we can do better than that! Now, as shown in the final image below, you may select multiple, separate parts/assemblies, manually position them as close as you’d like, then group them together to be considered a single entity. This entity can be duplicated, rearranged, hidden, or wholly deleted like any other part/assembly.

Assembly Feature in GrabCAD Print Pro

Assembly Feature in GrabCAD Print Pro

The user will be able to group parts so close together they will even share the same bed of support material laid between the tray and the part! This is ideal for manufacturers who can orient curved geometries to align with one another for spatial optimization. This will streamline the printing process and toolpath generation. When paired with Per-Print Estimation and 3D Array this becomes a powerful tool of efficiency.

3D Array

To achieve this in the regular version of GrabCAD Print, users had to convert their CAD parts into CAD assemblies with multiple iterations of the same part stacked on top of one another, ensuring the correct spacing to print stacks of parts. This can hurt premade CAD assemblies, unnecessarily enlarge file sizes, and inconvenience users trying to print new parts.

3D Array in GrabCAD Print Pro

3D Array in GrabCAD Print Pro

Thanks to the 3D Array feature in GrabCAD Print Pro it’s never been easier to create columns, rows, and/or stacks of parts on your build tray without changing your CAD model. Shown in the image above, users can choose the direction in which duplicates are made, the number of parts in a row/column/stack (X/Y/Z direction, respectively), and the spacing between parts. 3D Array will also warn the user if any parts do not fit inside the build volume before they finalize the array.

This set of parts is treated as a single entity group, as previously described, so arrays can be placed and printed alongside other parts, assemblies, or arrays in a single print job.

3rd Party Plugins

Although this is the final key feature about GrabCAD Print Pro, it certainly is not the least! The Pro version of GCP comes with the ability for 3rd party plugins to be added to the existing capabilities of this slicer and print management software. The possibilities are truly endless – and Stratasys has already partnered with several companies to bring some these to GCPP right away!

  1. AlphaSTAR’s Plugin: This powerful software offers quality assessment of toolpaths, enabling you to predict air gaps and perform thermal process simulations. By evaluating infill styles, orientation, contours, and other process settings beforehand, you can make informed decisions and optimize your prints for superior results.
  2. CASTOR’s Plugin: Experience the efficiency of automated part identification for additive manufacturing. This software highlights parts with a strong business case from technical, economical, sustainable, lead time, and supply chain perspectives. Streamline your decision-making process and choose the most suitable parts for additive manufacturing with ease.
  3. Cognitive Design Systems’ Plugin: The Cognitive Additive software generates a comprehensive dashboard, providing cost breakdown, printability information, and additive suitability assessment for selected parts based on specific machines and materials. This invaluable data empowers you to optimize costs, streamline workflows, and achieve exceptional outcomes in your 3D printing projects.

Start your free trial of GrabCAD Print Pro today!

Article by <a href="https://mfg.trimech.com/author/andrew-miller/" target="_self">Andrew Miller</a>

Article by Andrew Miller