3D Software

Autodesk launches Netfabb 2022 with focus on improved machine integration

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Software developer Autodesk has launched a new version of its Netfabb 3D printing, design and simulation platform that features broader machine compatibility than ever before. 

Working with 3D printer manufacturers EOS, Mimaki and Stratasys, Autodesk has managed to improve the level of Netfabb integration with their systems, making it easier for users to optimize their print results. The update also features tweaks to the way that supports can be added, which are designed to provide users with a more refined experience, as well as upgrades to its toolpathing and simulation tools. 

A ‘complete’ AM design package

Marketed by Autodesk as a “complete toolset for the design and implementation of additive manufacturing,” Netfabb is essentially a software that serves to streamline the print preparation process. Within its Premium Netfabb package, the company now includes its entry-level Fusion 360 3D modelling software, which in tandem with its broader software offering, it has steadily upgraded over the last eight years. 

Back in 2018, for instance, the program received a generative design update that has since enabled users to experiment with increasingly creative and complex part geometries. In the past, this add-on has not only played a key role in the creation of an interplanetary lander at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but proven to be a solid basis for HP and GE Additive’s  own generative design tools

Netfabb itself has also benefited from substantial upgrades in recent years, such as the addition of cloud-based PBF simulation tools, as well as streamlined filesharing and multi-machine management functionality. Having incrementally improved its software’s capabilities via continued updates, its latest version is now focused on bringing wider compatibility, and attracting as many potential users as possible. 

Netfabb 2022: a broader church 

In effect, Autodesk has been able to improve the integration of EOS and Mimaki machines with Netfabb using their own software development kits (SDK), while working with Stratasys to achieve greater API compatibility with the Origin One

In the case of the latter, Autodesk says that it has “significantly updated its workspace,” and introduced a direct connection to Origin’s online platform. To access this new feature, users simply have to add their printer to the ‘My Machines’ tab, open their machine workspace and hit ‘Manage Collections,’ which triggers a pop-up login window that enables them to browse the Origin site in-software. 

Once logged in, users are able to access further optimization tools and choose from three different support structure presets, before sending designs directly to the Origin One for printing. During the process, designers can choose to either slice their parts and upload them as zip files, or upload the STL file and use the in-browser slicer, but either way, the model is then stored online ready for processing. 

A screenshot from Netfabb 2022 showing the software's new 'smart-branching' support feature.
Netfabb 2022 includes a new ‘smart-branching’ support feature. Image via Autodesk.

Likewise, Netfabb 2022 brings upgraded compatibility with EOS’ M Series machines, and it can now create build files for the systems, using its newly-integrated SDK. In practise, this means that users can upload parameter files to the software, and use a pre-populated or custom build strategy to edit their model within EOS’ proprietary digital workspace. 

Aside from EOS and Stratasys’ machines, Autodesk’s latest software also features greater integration with other systems, including Aconity 3D’s TWO and Micro 3D printers, ExOne’s X1 160Pro, Evobeam’s SLaVAM 300, 3D4mec’s 3D4 STEEL and BRASS, Alpha Laser’s AL3D-METAL 150-50 and 200, and Spectroplast’s SAM unit. 

Elsewhere, in areas such as support generation, Autodesk has made significant usability tweaks as well. With its new ‘upskin projection’ feature, the software allows clients to reduce their material usage, by not having their support go to the bottom of the platform. For more advanced users, the program also allows supports to be ‘projected’ along a spline, removing the need for part-to-part supports. 

Autodesk continues to market Netfabb via a subscription model, with the firm’s ‘Fusion 360 with Netfabb Premium’ product currently priced at £5,352 per year, or £14,448 if bought on a three-year plan. More information about the company’s Netfabb offering and payment plans can be found via its store page here

Advances in Autodesk’s platform 

Over the last couple of years, Autodesk’s continued upgrades to its software portfolio have allowed it to both expand the applications of its platform, and improve its bottom line. In January 2020, for example, the company deployed its generative design software to help aerospace firm Airbus redesign structural aircraft parts, in a way that could make them significantly more eco-friendly. 

Within industrial settings, Autodesk has also partnered with Sandvik Coromant to optimize the design of 3D printed cutting tools. Announced in December last year, the project is part of a wider multi-year collaboration between the companies, in which they aim to improve the CAM element of Fusion 360, and reduce part lead times in the process. 

These partnerships, as well as its iterative Netfabb upgrades have allowed Autodesk to prosper financially during recent quarters, in a difficult business climate where others have failed. After reporting a “growing market confidence” in June 2021, the firm saw its revenue jump by 16% in Q2 2022, and rise over the $1 billion mark. 

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Featured image shows a screenshot demonstrating Netfabb’s part fault simulation features. Image via Autodesk.