FAQ

What is SculptPrint?

SculptPrint is a modeling package that utilizes the latest in GPU voxel technology, enabling the most complex parts to be quickly and easily manufactured. Do you have 3D models of parts? Do you have a five-axis machine tool? Then SculptPrint is what you need to easily convert those models into optimized collision free G-Code that can be sent to your machine.

Who would use or need SculptPrint?

SculptPrint users include engineers and machinists.  Anyone owning or with access to a machine tool with more than three axes of motion would use SculptPrint to produce G-Code tool paths for these machines.

How is SculptPrint different from traditional computer aided manufacturing (CAM) software?

Most traditional CAM packages use boundary representation solid modeling and polynomial based NURBS surfaces with a ‘surface by surface’ type of workflow that is often tedious.  Because SculptPrint uses voxel technology, it is able to generate tool paths over the entire part without limits. Not only is this less restrictive, but it also enables a whole new and more natural workflow.

When would I use SculptPrint versus traditional CAM?

The best way to explain when SculptPrint would be of benefit, consider this quote from the Design Guidelines provided by Proto Labs regarding 5-axis milling:

https://www.protolabs.com/cnc-machining/cnc-milling/design-guidelines

“Along with 3-axis milling, 5-axis indexed milling is used at Proto Labs. With 5-axis indexed milling (also referred to as 3+2 milling), two axes are stopped while the tool is engaged with the part.”

When you have a part that does not conform to the 3+2 milling limits as defined by vendors such as ProtoLabs and Xometry, seek out SculptPrint.

Does SculptPrint replace my traditional CAM software?

SculptPrint can replace a traditional CAM package or be used in concert with one.  SculptPrint does not support the full range of machining operations found in most CAM packages.  SculptPrint does not intend to provide “me too” type features to compete with these packages.  There are a wealth of traditional CAM packages with many great features.  If you need these features, please seek out these existing, long established packages.  However, if you need new capabilities beyond these traditional packages, SculptPrint might be your solution.

What type of parts is SculptPrint best at making?

SculptPrint excels at making extremely difficult part geometries. If your part is a boxy bracket with a bolt hole pattern, or if your part can be manufactured using what is known a ‘3+2’ machining, then you won’t be facing the difficult machining tasks that SculptPrint was designed to handle, and thus it isn’t required for your application. SculptPrint shines the most with organic type shapes and shapes with difficult tool access problems.  Examples where SculptPrint would be applied include topology optimized parts, assemblies made from a single stock of material, turbomachinery like impellers and blisks, and sculpture-like parts with organic shapes.  SculptPrint is often referred to as “Subtractive 3D Printing” to reflect its ability to compete with additive 3D printing in the types of shapes it can produce.

What are the system requirements necessary for SculptPrint?

SculptPrint requires an nVidia GPU to leverage their CUDA technology.  At a minimum, we recommend a Kepler or later generation graphics card with at least 700 or more CUDA cores.  GPU generation and number of CUDA cores is the dominant factor in selecting a graphics card for running SculptPrint.  Each GPU generation benchmarks roughly 2x faster “core for core” and performance scales nearly linear with CUDA core count.  For example, a Kepler generation graphics card typically starts with a K model number for Quadro cards or an 8 for GeForce cards.  The Maxwell and Pascal generation cards start with M and P for the Quadro line or 9 and 10 for the GeForce, respectively.  A Maxwell generation card is the next generation beyond Kepler and will be 2x faster.  A Pascal card is the next generation beyond Maxwell and will be 4x faster than a Kepler.  Similarly, a Kepler card with 3000 CUDA cores will be roughly 2x faster than one with 1500 cores.

SculptPrint does also benefit in performance from a powerful CPU, a large amount of RAM, and solid state hard drives, but the selection of the graphics card is by far the largest consideration.

I want to try SculptPrint but do not have the hardware to support it?

If you would like to test drive SculptPrint without first investing in a new graphics card, cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure can provide a remote hosted GPU instance that support SculptPrint.  We have tested AWS’ G2 instances running SculptPrint with great results.  These systems can be used by the hour in order to test SculptPrint.  We plan to soon offer “one button” access to cloud hosted SculptPrint.

What operating systems do you support?

SculptPrint currently only support Windows 7 and Windows 10 operation systems on desktop systems.

The cloud based versions of SculptPrint will support Linux operating systems.

Would the Quadro or GeForce brand card work best?

Benchmarks show only a marginal difference between a Quadro card and a GeForce card of equivalent GPU generation and core count.  If you are only running SculptPrint, a GeForce card is likely a better value.  If you need to run other CAD/CAM programs besides SculptPrint, you may want to consider a Quadro card with its special drivers supporting popular CAD/CAM packages.

How can a lot of little tiny cubes like voxel models meet my manufacturing tolerances?

If the size of the tiny cube is smaller than your manufacturing tolerances, a voxel model can meet your manufacturing tolerances.  This concept underlies SculptPrint and its approach to voxel based manufacturing.

What types of machining operations does SculptPrint currently support?

The current version of SculptPrint supports profiling, facing, and boring turning operations and constant re-orientation 5-axis ball end milling.  Future versions will support flat end milling, flank milling, torus type mills, and many more.

Where did SculptPrint originate? What is its history?

SculptPrint originated with a university research project funded by the National Science Foundation starting in 2005 entitled “GPUs for Manufacturing”.  Additional funding for SculptPrint has been provided over the years by continued university research funded by the National Science Foundation, US Air Force, and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants funded by the US Navy and US Department of Energy.  Work on a commercialized version of the fruits of these research efforts began in 2013 and SculptPrint is the product of this commercialization.