The story begins when I was working on a part in SOLIDWORKS Simulation with a coworker. He asked me to hand him his Flow Simulation book so that he could look up an application. I turned to his bookshelf to retrieve the book and collapsed in fear.  This is what I saw:

It’s not my office but I couldn’t let someone work like this. I had to do something (even though he asked me not to). After locating the correct book, and using some basic organizational technique we were moving in the right direction.  There is one problem, how do you know which book is which?

Sounds like a job for SOLIDWORKS.

After some careful brainstorming and a few measurements, a book binder was born (virtually).  There are 15 different books that need to be labeled, so that means I need to make 15 different part files?  Nope! With the use of linked properties and Excel driven design tables, I was able to make many uniquely labeled configurations while controlling dimensions within one file in minutes! (Click here to learn about Design Tables and Configurations).

This organizational marvel now exists in the realm of Concept, but how can I get a prototype without spending too much time and money?  Now that sounds like a job for MakerBot.  SOLIDWORKS has the ability to seamlessly export part files to STL files which are, conveniently, the file type that MakerBots need to calculate a tool path.  MakerBot Print is a free program that transitions your STL part file into a layer-by-layer toolpath that the MakerBot uses to build the part.

It’s hard to imagine the power of rapid prototyping until the first time you go from idea, to concept, to physical part in a matter of days or even hours.  Now is a great time for DIY enthusiasts because the technology is widely available and extremely cost effective.  For about $3.00 of material and 12 hours of print time, my coworker has the luxury of knowing exactly where his books are.

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