Design for Additive Manufacturing is an evolving field that allows alternative design approaches to facilitate improvements in parts and builds by taking advantage of the capability of additive manufacturing (AM). Currently, available CAD software does not provide sufficient tools for AM designers, which results in a complex iterative process requiring multiple file types and programs. The complicated process of generating build time and cost estimates prevents designers from being able to efficiently optimize their parts for the AM process. Through the Solidworks Application Programming Interface a user-controlled macro was developed to generate build time and cost estimates by automatically creating support structures from multiple planes of comparative Ray Trace vector grids. The macro provides the user with visual and qualitative part information at the first stage in the design/file workflow, curtailing the current complex workflow to reduce overall design time. The macro is focused on the material extrusion process due to the diversity in available machines and build control, favoring user knowledge of specific parameters to calculate the build time and cost. Limitations of the approach along with extensions to other AM processes are also discussed.

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