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3D Printing Design to DO's and NOT to do's

Posted by -CEO Mathew A Danic on

As a teacher of how to 3D Print and Design, I've come across quite a few problems with peoples designs and thought it was finally time to address them in a blog instead of back and forth emails.


- If you want the best results on any printing technology, DESIGN for the printer. You wouldn't send an A3 Poster to a A4 Printer or Print Blue paper when you can buy Blue paper.

When it comes to FDM 3D Printing knowing the specifications of the printer will allow you to get the best surface finish possible, efficient tool and material use AND save time!

Using our Printers as an example, they have a bed size of 210L x 140W x 150H mm and a nozzle of 0.4mm

Prints that have a minimum thickness of 0.8mm and 1.6mm will have best strength and quality because they're multiples of 0.4mm nozzle.

- Consider the orientation of printing vs. it's strength needed. If you're printing a pencil, it may seem common sense to print it upright like a pencil, but the z-axis is always the weakest part of the print, just like a wood grain. It would be much stronger to print it laying flat to get the largest cross sectional plane (grain of the plastic) to go from top to bottom.

NOT to DO examples:

-This bracelet was designed too thin to work and won't print. The nozzle on the printer is 0.4mm meaning that's the minimum thickness. This design was something much thinner and the printer fails to see that it's a joining part.
Also curves of this shape don't have much surface area connecting with the bed meaning they can lift off and fail easily.
Inline image 1

-This Disney land file is really creative, however it's scales are not done in the correct proportions. The Mickey mouse is something of appropriate size, but the text is then only a few millimeters in size making it un-printable.
Spheres are also something that are hard to print on 3D Printers and only look good on the top half, so if the text were to be removed the model would print best in 2 halves and post joined.

Inline image 2

- The final example is something that really shows off what 3D printing can do! However it cannot be made properly with FDM printing technology as support structures are needed to fill in any over hang larger than 45Degrees.
If you really wanted to get this made for yourself one day, you can use SLS or SLA printing to bring the idea into the real world.
Inline image 3

In summary, try to image FDM 3D printing as a method of drawing a bunch of 2D Images on top of each other with a hot glue gun. If it seems doable, then it probably is.