During the development of this plugin, there have been done many improvements. In the beginning, it began with a simple Python script, which was calling SolidWorks to convert a part file. Now the plugin as changed a lot and allows to do many great things easily. The current key features are:
- Opening different SolidWorks formats
- Part files (*.sldprt)
- Assemblies (*.sldasm)
- Drawings (*.slddrw)
- Rotating your model into a the normed orientation automatically (optionally)
- Choosing different profiles for data conversion
- Using exporting profiles, eg. coarse and fine, like found in SolidWorks itself.
- Using optimized profiles for desktop 3D-printing
- Conversion assistant
- Issue analysis tool
For the full list of changes, I kindly recommend taking a look at the changelog page.
Supported file formats:
The plugin supports at the moment all major formats, which are used together with SolidWorks. Like visible in the video made by Ultimaker on the bottom of this page, you can see that you can easily drag and drop SolidWorks files into Cura. The only requirement for drawings is, that only one part or assembly is being used inside this file. If this is not the case, then the plugin will show you a message inside Cura.
People who are using SolidWorks together with slicers and other software probably know the problem. 3DS is not caring at all about exporting their models in the normed orientation. Even when exporting into 3MF, where the orientation of models is strictly stated, 3DS still keeps stubborn and exports models in their way. Since the user is able to rotate a model inside Cura, this functionality is also accessible for the plugin itself. Therefore a function has been implemented to make the rotation for you! After each import!
Optimized conversion profiles:
I came in contact with together with customers and resellers of different companies and got known of various hassles when exporting profiles in SolidWorks. They are simply not optimized for models in the scale, which are normally printed in desktop environments. Does not matter what Stratasys Direct, Inc. says in their article “How To Prepare STL Files“, the parameters recommended by 3DS simply do NOT satisfy desktop 3D-printing. Therefore optimized profiles have been defined, so you are able to get all your details printed easily!
Conversion assistant (an Ultimaker contribution):
In some side scenarios, there is the need to tweak the conversion quality on each file. For these cases, you can use the conversion assistant. It will pop-up every time you open a SolidWorks file and ask you how to perform the conversion. As you can see in the screenshot on the left, you can choose between different conversion profiles and optionally also turn off and on autorotation.
In some cases, problems might occur when using the plugin. Some of the problems happened during development and can also happen in a similar way to you. However, you can find in the configuration dialog a checklist of the functionality of the plugin together with the Windows Automation interface and SolidWorks, which acts as a server. During the start of Cura, when the plugin gets loaded, it is performing a system self-test. This test is following exactly the criteria you can see in the screenshot on the right. So in case, you are facing issues, but one of the points are not meet, please contact the support of SolidWorks or your reseller of it. In these cases, there is something wrong with your system.