Tips & Tricks: Working with Tray Assemblies for Additive Mfg
Written By: Aaron Shaw

Additive Manufacturing brings many benefits to product development. But let’s be honest; it’s often not the fastest way to produce parts. While an injection molding setup can push hundreds of plastic widgets out the door in an hour, it’s not unusual for a single 3D print part to take all night.

So it makes sense to make the most of your print job by carefully and efficiently arranging multiple parts on a tray before you walk away. That’s why, with Creo 4.0, we’ve provided several tools to help you optimize your tray assembly, so you make the most of every run.

Here are a few of the new features you’ll want to try out: 

Create a Tray Assembly

The first step, of course, will be to set up a tray assembly. Assuming you already have your part/assembly on the screen, follow these steps:

  1. Click File > Print > Prepare for 3D Printing.
  2. Click Auto-position.
  3. Click Assemble.
  4. Select a part to add to the assembly.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to add as many parts as you like to the assembly.
  6. Click the green check when you are finished adding parts.

Adding a fuel cap to the tray assembly.

New parts appear outside of the tray area.

Create a Pattern

You may want to print more than one instance of the same part to save time and money when 3D printing. Add copies of a part by creating a pattern.

  1. Select a part.
  2. In the Operations group on the Tray tab, click Pattern.
  3. Select a method: Dimensions, Direction, Axis, or Fill. For this example, select Direction.
  4. Select a reference plane.
  5. Enter the number of parts you want in the pattern.
  6. Click the green check.

Creating a pattern of the parts using Direction.

(To learn about other pattern types, see the PTC Creo Help Center page, About the Pattern User Interface.)

Auto-position Parts

New parts and patterns are added outside of the tray, but you can automatically position them in the tray: In the Operations group on the Tray tab, click Auto-position.

The parts are arranged automatically inside the tray.

Create a Nested Arrangement

Nesting parts can speed up 3D printing, if your printer supports it. Creo 4.0 automatically nests parts with a single click. Here’s how: In the Operations group on the Tray tab, click Nesting.

The parts have been rearranged using nesting.


Watch the Demo

Those are just a few ways you can make the most of your tray assembly. You can also use Creo 4.0 to add notes to the assembly, measure parts to make sure they fit your printing specs, validate printability, check for interference, and even preview the printing environment.

You can see a brief demo of all these capabilities in the video below.

To learn more, read the PTC Creo Help Center page, Creating a Tray Assembly.

Start using Creo 4.0 today

This post contains just a few of the things you can now do with Creo 4.0. We’ll have more tips in the weeks ahead. If you haven’t downloaded Creo 4.0 yet, visit the Creo 4.0 page to find out more about this exciting new release and start using it today.

Tags: CAD Additive Manufacturing
About the Author Aaron Shaw

Aaron Shaw joined PTC in 2013, currently he is the Senior Manager, CAD Demand Generation. He is responsible for the CAD marketing strategy and execution worldwide. He enjoys playing golf, eating spicy foods, reading, traveling, and rooting for all Boston teams. Aaron is a graduate of Penn State, you can follow him on Twitter @AaronEShaw.