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Sunday, May 02, 2010

From Art to Part. New 3D Printing Export Options in Inventor 2011

“We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb”

Thomas Alva Edison

With the 2011 release of Autodesk Inventor, the pace picks up. I've been out migrating databases, testing hardware, and installing software. It definitely means a little less time to blog, but I do enjoy getting out there and learning new things.

On this Sunday evening, I took a few minutes to review the 'New Features Workshop' in Inventor, and see what new features that might be in there, but not getting lost among the other great features.

One of these is the export to 3D Print Service Option.

Back when I was in industry, we used Stereo Lithography models constantly for things like fit and function test, customer proposals, and in one instance, even to create a master for investment casting.

Even ten years later, I still have a huge appreciation for the technology, and I'm constantly amazed to see how much the technology has evolved in that time.

In this release of Inventor, Autodesk has added some settings that really embrace the technology. Here's a quick video I put together on exporting to an STL Model.

And if you want more information on 3D printing technology, here's a video I grabbed from Youtube that shows the process pretty well.

This particular video was created by OBJET, but there are many technologies to choose from, such as SLS (Stereo Laser Sintering), as well as machines using a variety of plastics and powders.

There are also companies that provide this as a service, such as Peak Solutions LLC. With service bureaus avaiable, you don't even need to invest in the machine!

So whether you've been using this technology for years, or just getting used to it, Inventor is more ready than ever to create the models!


  1. Cool to see inventor getting more 3D friendly,

    check out for a great online portal to get your objects 3D printed and shipped free to your door in ten working days..

    does get kinda addictive though..

  2. @Dr. Scott. It is pretty exciting to see that Inventor's added even more capability.

    The functionality has been there a while, but the options were limited to 'Low, Medium, High' Quality until now.

    The new tools add a tremendous amount of flexibility now.

  3. @Chris: I remember about 10-12 years ago when an 'entry level' machine was around 150K USD.

    On top of that the resins were hundreds of dollars a U.S. gallon, and required Nitrile gloves to handle,and needed to be in a special room.

    The new machines are a fraction of the cost, have materials that are much safer to use, and in some cases can sit on a desk.

    It's amazing what a difference a decade makes!