The printer is a somewhat older design based on a type called the Mendelmax, which is how I was able to aquire it as cheaply as I did. There are probably about 1,000 of them in the world, and maybe another 20,000 compatable printers worldwide.
Serious question: Does it have an existing workable SolidWorks driver?
Kind of. I haven't had a chance to play with Solidworks itself, so I don't know if it has a direct print interface built into it. If it does, and if thats what you are asking about, I'm guessing that no one has ported a module for the specific RAMPS controller I am using, but you could attach pretty much any 4 axis driver platform to this printer and it would work, so if there was one that was compatable with solidworks, it would just be a matter of swapping out the controller and firmware. RAMPS 1.4 is Airduno based, so you can pretty much make it take any input if you can get the program to see the printer in the first place. You could probably swap it with a Gecko controller, though you would have to adapt the thermocouple interface to something, probably the Z probe inputs. RAMPS and the newer RAMBO derivitives are currently the most popular 3D printer controllers outside the big multi thousand dollar units.
I use the excellent and free Repetier host for the actual driving of the stepper motors with it curently http://www.repetier.com/
which can work with gcode, stl, obj, or nc files directly. Solidworks can save nativly to a stl file, so worst case scenario you could save as .stl, drop it into repetier and slice it into layers, and print from inside repetier without any additional cost. Just an extra step of labor. I use Autodesk inventor for my design work, supplementing with autocad as needed. Inventor can import just about everything, even older solidworks .sldprt models and output them to .stl. Or the reverse for that matter, so it's easy and effective to get a solidworks model to print, it just may take an extra step.
edit: i'm told someone made a makerbot 2 and a soliddoodle port for solidworks. both those printers use RAMPS based controllers, so it may actually nativly print. Edited, Oct 11th 2013 1:20pm by Kaolian