Siemens PLM connection was held at the Estrel Convention Centre in Berlin, Germany between Monday 23rd October and Wednesday 25th October 2017. The event pulled in a record number of 1,180 industry professionals from 36 different cultures, as well as 54 exhibitors.
At the event, Ultimaker exhibited innovations that aim to enhance manufacturing. We showcased several successful business cases, including custom-made jigs and fixtures developed by Volkswagen Autoeuropa for use on their production floor. Such applications significantly reduce production time and costs in comparison to using external fabrication bureaus, and really highlight the benefits of FDM 3D printing for industry.
We also demonstrated new software products, including our newly released Cura Connect feature, and Siemens NX plugin integration for Ultimaker Cura.
The advantage of third-party plugins for business
Third-party plugins for Ultimaker Cura present a unique opportunity for businesses who have adopted FDM 3D printing: functions of the core software can be extended by creating custom additions or software tools in order to meet specific business needs.
One example of this is the Siemens NX integration plugin, which enables designs to be exported from Siemens NX directly into Ultimaker Cura by pressing a single button. This is already available to download in Ultimaker Cura using the plugin browser.
Enhancing the flexibility and efficiency of a production workflow
The Siemens NX integration plugin is a vast improvement on a typical FDM design and fabrication workflow.
Previously, a user would create a design using CAD software, export it as an .stl or .obj file, manually import it into a slicing software, export it again as a .gcode, and save it to an SD card or USB stick, where it would be manually loaded into a printer. If any revisions to the design were made, this process would then have to be repeated from the beginning.
The Siemens NX integration plugin sidesteps this entire process. The workflow is detailed below:
First, the design is created in Siemens NX.
The user can then ‘push’ the design directly into Ultimaker Cura by pressing the ‘Cura Interface’ button.
The plugin will prompt the user to select a body to export. The user selects it, and confirms.
Ultimaker Cura will automatically open with the model imported, ready for slicing. If any revisions to the original design are necessary, it is simply a case of clicking the button in Siemens NX to import a revised model into Ultimaker Cura.
This workflow is streamlined and doesn’t require any files to be exported. It also greatly simplifies the design iteration process, as revisions to the design can be quickly and simply sent to Ultimaker Cura by pressing the button in Siemens NX again.
In combination with an Ultimaker 3 and software features such as Cura Connect, the workflow is simplified further: the network capabilities of the Ultimaker 3 enable users to send designs from Ultimaker Cura to their printer wirelessly over their local network.
If used with a group of Ultimaker 3 printers, the user can use Cura Connect to queue and print several items at once for a continuous production workflow, which can be monitored and controlled from a single interface.