You can use Print3D to print 3D prototypes of your models when you have a 3D printer installed locally.

To access a local 3D printer, in a part or assembly document click File > Print3D .

SOLIDWORKS supports 3D printing of models that contain surface bodies and graphics bodies only if they form a watertight manifold volume.You can 3D print surfaces or graphics bodies, provided they form a watertight manifold volume. Bodies that do not form a watertight manifold volume are temporarily hidden and bodies that form a watertight manifold volume get 3D printed.

If your 3D printer manufacturer uses the SOLIDWORKS 3D Print API, the 3D printing rapid prototyping dialog box opens to assist you in printing.

If your 3D printer has a driver supported by the Microsoft Windows 8.1 3D printer pipeline, the Print3D PropertyManager opens.

Microsoft's Windows 3D printing flow uses an XML-based data format called 3D Manufacturing Format (3MF). Software applications that support this format convert their data to 3MF format and send it to the operating system's print spooler for 3D printing.

Prior the use of the 3MF format, the 3D printing involved:

  • CAD design to create a parametric solid model that is easily scaled.
  • Mesh review after exporting the model from the CAD program.
  • Mesh fixing using a custom software program to optimize the mesh for 3D printing.
  • Printing preparation, including specifications for a raft to be used as a print base, supports for overhanging material, model density, and print quality.
  • Printing using an application that communicates with the printer while the 3D model is being printed.

With the Windows 8.1 printer driver, you can go straight from your model to 3D printed output. With your CAD design open in SOLIDWORKS, you open the Print3D PropertyManager.

Two tabs let you prepare for 3D printing:

  • The Settings tab, where you:
    • Select a printer from a list of available printers that use the Windows 8.1 printer driver.
    • Orient and scale your model within the print volume defined by the printer you select.
    • Select print options for quality, infill percentage (density), supports and raft.
    • Save the current file to a format used for 3D printing.
  • The Preview tab, where you run preview analyses to evaluate the current print job:
    • Identify faces that require support.
    • Display striation lines to determine whether the print resolution is sufficiently fine.

When you are satisfied with your settings, you print the model by clicking .