Advances in additive manufacturing are currently aiding manufacturers in the automotive industry innovate faster. And this is why industry giants like Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen are investing heavily in establishing 3D printing labs across Europe and the United States. In Ford’s case, the integration of 3D printing has seen the auto giant save thousands of dollars and cut production times in half.

While the innovative powers of additive manufacturing are admirable, many—individuals and firms in the automotive industry—sometimes overlook the major driver of its successes; the CAD tools and 3D models powering the 3D printers. This is why the popular CAD brands have created separate new modules for 3D printing. And some examples are the SolidWorks CAM and Costing modules that come with great manufacturing features.

Automate Digital Manufacturing Processes with SolidWorks

The Costing module feature provides designers, project managers and top management executives with intuitive cost estimates of the manufacturing process associated with a design. This estimate takes into consideration the chosen manufacturing process—3D printing—the materials to be used, size, density and how intricate the design is. And it does all this in real-time which helps its users make decisions quickly.

Working with the SolidWorks Costing add-on involves uploading the 3D model into your workspace and choosing all the different features that will define the manufactured product. The module then produces an estimate that serves as a guide for the manufacturing process.

Integrating Best Practices when Designing 3D Printable Models with SolidWorks

A 3D printed automobile part is only as good as the provided 3D model. This is because even the smallest margins of error matters could be the determining factor between a successful launch and a recall. With SolidWorks, automobile designers can simply integrate its design standards by creating and uploading design templates. These templates will provide the needed design guidelines for the company’s engineers to follow. Creating a template is easy and can be done using these steps:

  1. Click File> New
  2. Select the type of Template required, this could be for Part, Assembly or Drawing, by double-clicking your choice
  3. Click Tools > Option. This opens the document property tab
  4. Select options and customize your new template and click OK
  5. Click File and make use of ‘save as’ to store your new template.

Consequently, auto manufacturers can also choose to outsource 3D modeling tasks to professional SolidWorks design service providers that understand what it takes to create 3D printable models.

Enhancing 3D Printing Farms or Clusters

courtesy of freepick

A trip to Volkswagen’s Autoeuropa factory will provide you with an extensive showcase of the manufacturing abilities of hundreds of 3D printers working in synch. A network of 3D printers working towards a common goal is generally known as a 3D printing farm or clusters. Here too, SolidWorks services are required to ensure the entire network is properly managed and monitored to avoid technical problems.

Understanding the importance of a well-maintained cluster, SolidWorks launched its Print Cluster Management Software as a tool for keeping track of every 3D printer in a cluster. And a functional cluster can be used to churn out thousands of auto components in record time and at a drastically reduced cost.


As the 3D printing industry continues to revolutionize the automobiles industry, CAD applications also have a back-role to play. And this is providing engineers and service providers with the tools needed to design 3D models, estimate manufacturing cost and manage the manufacturing process.


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