When you generate a 3D model (typically for 3D printing) in a CAD program like Solidworks or Fusion 360, it is often helpful to perform some basic analysis of your models before proceeding to a physical prototype. In particular, we request that all requests for 3D printing in the GVU Prototyping Lab include the total volume of each file submitted. Most CAD programs can perform these calculations fairly easily, and calculating the volume allows users to know the cost of a 3D print before submission. If you are unfamiliar with the process, follow the steps below.
If you already know the volume of every part you will print, or once you've determined this using the steps below, you're ready to calculate an estimate of the cost for your job!
- Determine the number of copies you would like of each file.
- Find the total volume of your job by adding the volume of every copy of every part you wish to print.
- Determine the printer/mode you would like to use for your job.
- Multiply the rate for the printer by your total volume. This is the cost you will be charged, unless there is some unusal edge case with your job.
- The rates per cubic inch for each printer are listed on our 3D print submission page, as well as the individual tool pages for the printers.
For instance, assume I have two files I wish to print: PartA and PartB. PartA has a volume of 3 cubic inches and PartB has a volume of 2 cubic inches. If I want one copy of each part, then my total volume is 5 cubic inches. Assuming I want 4 copies of PartA, then I have a volume of (4x3)+(1x5)=17 cubic inches total. If I want these 17 cubic inches printed on the Dimension printer, I know that the rate is $14.00 per cubic inch, so my overall cost would be $238.
Note: This same calculation is performed live in the submission form based on the printer you select and the volume you enter to provide an estimate before you submit the request.
To calculate the volume of an object in Solidworks you must have either the original Solidworks file or an .STL file to convert into a Solidworks object.
- If you have an .STL:
- Press the Open button in either the Solidworks toolbar or the File menu (shortcut Ctrl-O).
- Select .STL as the file type.
- Press the options button and select Solid Body.
- Find the .STL file in the prompt and open it.
- With the imported .STL or Soldiworks part, click the "Evaluate" tab.
- Click the "Material Properties" button.
- A dialog box will open with many different material properties of the open object, including the volume.
- If this you wish to print this part in the GVU Prototyping Lab, make sure the volume is reported as cubic inches. If it is not, you can use the "Options" button at the top of the dialog box to change the units Solidworks uses to present these properties.
With the volume in cubic inches you're now ready to calculate an estimated cost for your 3D print or submit the job with our submission form.