Cost estimation techniques for Additive Manufacturing (AM) have limited synchronization with the metadata of 3D CAD models. This paper proposes a method for estimating AM build costs through a commercial 3D solid modeling program. Using an application programming interface (API), part volume and surface data is queried from the CAD model and used to generate internal and external support structures as solid-body features. The queried data along with manipulation of the part’s build orientation allows users to estimate build time, feedstock requirements, and optimize parts for AM production while they are being designed in a CAD program. A case study is presented with a macro programmed using the SolidWorks API with costing for a metal 3D-printed automotive component. Results reveal that an imprecise support angle can under-predict support volume by 34% and build time by 20%. Orientation and insufficient build volume packing can increase powder depreciation costs by nearly twice the material costs.

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