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Design flow for 3D printing

rune_thorsen229rune_thorsen229 Member Posts: 178 EDU

Designing for additive manufacturing - scalable, 3D printable

Onshape is great for designing 3D printable objects (additive manufacturing) and allows an easy way of collaborating (co-designing)  as well as being a place where designs are stored for others to find (repository). As long as there is a free subscription it enables anybody to get started, contribute and develop 3D models.


  • rune_thorsen229rune_thorsen229 Member Posts: 178 EDU
    edited March 2020


    As the Onshape has become full of features and the ‘advantages’ of ‘redundant’ workflows, my observation and experience is that the beginner or occasional user may spend too much time and create less than optimal designs.


    The objective of this topic should be to arrive at a simple and best practice for starting with an idea, draft the model and arrive at a print plate for 3D printing the thingy. 

    A sound engineering approach is to use parametric design principles in the sense that dimensions are driven centrally (by reference drawing, variables). That allows others to change the object according to changing needs. 

    One challenge of additive manufacturing is that parts may have to be designed in one position (functional) and laid out in another (manufacturing). 

    A further specification is that the workflow should be accessible to the Onshape newbee without having to be expert on Onshape specific features. That means, remembering that not everybody ‘lives’ in Onshape and respect that they may have limited time to learn the advanced features.

    Lastly to avoid the pitfalls of Onshape that may cause people to insert absolute values or resort to workarounds. 

    Workflow outline

    Drafting the idea in a part studio.

    Import them into an Assembly to simulate moving parts in two positions. 

    1. Functional - checking moving parts, dimensions, collisions etc.  

    2. PrintPlate - layout ready to slice for 3D printing.

  • rune_thorsen229rune_thorsen229 Member Posts: 178 EDU
    edited March 2020

    Positioning parts - the catch

    The position in which parts are designed is maintained in the exported STL

    Give we have a Part studio with this model


    You can export that and import it into the slicer in two ways:

    1 As one part

    2 Export unique parts as individual files

    1 will result in the object to slice (A)

    2 will result in 4 parts that you have to assemble on the slicer print plate

    Say, you want them to be printed as 4 different parts in the following layout made in Assembly

    Export type 1 will result in a solid (B) export type 2 will result in the 4 separate parts randomly placed. In CURA you can ‘merge models’ and they will unexpectedly be assembled as C rather than B.

    That means that exporting assemblies does export an STL where the ‘build’ positions rather than assembly positions are coded into the STL. 

    A workaround

    is to  (thanks @john_mcclary )

    1. ‘Create part studio in context’

    2.  In the new part studio ‘Transform’ using ‘Copy in place’ of the parts to print

    3. Export the parts as individual files

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