by: Anthony Garland
I currently teach SOLIDWORKS at Clemson University while working on my Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. Each semester I train about 100 students in two sections of the SOLIDWORKS class how to model 3D parts and assemblies, how to make engineering drawings, and how to use the animation, simulation, and PhotoView 360 tools within SOLIDWORKS. 300 to 500 students take the course each semester. The course requires students to complete ten homework assignments, daily quizzes (we call them "In Class Assignments" (ICAS)), take the SOLIDWORKS Associates Test (CSWA), and complete three projects. For the first project, students design a simple bottle and lid which screw together. We encourage the student to be creative and make interesting designs. I've seen students make their bottle look like things ranging from famous buildings to a miniature Darth Vader. The bottle and lid must fit inside a 3.0 x 1.5 x 1.5-inch bounding box. Also, we 3D print all the bottles and caps of each student and return the printed model to each student. Because I setup the 3D printers in the general engineering department, I was tasked with printing all the bottles and lids. Given that about 500 students were taking the class during the Spring 2016 semester, this task was a bit overwhelming at first.
Students taking the CSWA exam
LuzBot Taz5 3D Printer
Makergear M2 3D Printer with bottles and caps on the build plate
3dprint.xlsx (made from the 3dprint.csv generated by the script) used to keep track of which bottles are printed.
Example bottle with three orthogonal views and the isometric view. Username and file number are in the title of each image.
Using this script saved me tons of time by putting all the .stl files needed for a 24-hour print into a single folder so that I didn't have to search through the student's file submissions to find their .stl files. Also, I can select all the file's at once when importing them into Simplify3D for slicing. After each print is finished, it is a relatively simple task to look at the images of the .stl files in each folder to identify which physical 3D model belongs to which username.
Simplify3D slicer with bottles and caps for a single group
Toolpath Preview in Simplify3D for bottles and caps for a single group
I used the following existing Matlab projects from the Matlab file exchange when putting together my script.
* If you don't have Graderworks, then you could write a Matlab script that unzips all the folders using the unzip function
** 18 files means 9 complete bottle and caps. Remember, they must fit inside a 3.0 x 1.5 x 1.5-inch bounding box.
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