Designing models for 3D printing doesn't have to be hard. Here are 5 quick tips for you to realize your designs with this revolutionary technology.
3D printing opens the door to geometric freedom. More so than other manufacturing processes, it enables users to quickly and inexpensively realize complex designs.
While existing designs are certainly plentiful, you can take advantage of this empowering technology by creating your own custom files. 3D printing is incredibly tolerant of complex geometries, and most designs will be printable.
That being said, there are a couple of items to note about designing that will make the printing process much smoother. Here are 5 quick tips for creating the perfect 3D printable model.
If you’re looking to create mechanical, fitting parts, this step is essential. No machine is perfectly precise, and 3D printers tend to be less precise than other manufacturing technologies.
This means that parts you design must have proper clearances, or gaps between each other, to guarantee a fit. For instance, if you have a mount that is intended to hold a bearing, the hole you design for the bearing should be slightly larger than the bearing itself. That way, even if the print has a few small artifacts on its surface, the bearing will still fit.
Find the clearances you need for your printer, and don’t forget to include them in your designs!
In 3D printing, objects are created from the ground up, usually in a layer-by-layer process. This means that features hanging in mid-air don’t fare too well, becoming deformed or separating from the rest of the model.
The solution? Support structures. They prop up overhanging areas to retain their intended shape. Different 3D printing technologies have different support requirements. SLA printing, for instance, almost always demands supports, while in SLS, the plastic powder used for printing also doubles as the support material.
In FDM, the most common technology, supports are required based on the model’s geometry, which has a significant effect on printing and post-processing time. To avoid the hassle, keep an eye on overhanging areas when designing models for this technology. A good rule of thumb is to not to exceed 45 degrees when possible.
It’s an extra bit of work, but minding overhangs will save you loads of time in post-processing your print.
Before 3D printing, your design must be converted to a 3D printable file. During this process, there are a few key items to note:
Any design, however impressive, can be laid low by file errors. Watch for file quality to get the best results!
3D printing isn’t just one technology. It encompassed multiple different technologies, each with their own advantages and caveats. Understanding the ins and outs of your technology and reflecting them in your designs will make the printing process much smoother.
To illustrate this, here’s a brief breakdown of three popular 3D printing technologies:
You don’t need to be an expert, but a little reading on these technologies will go a long way.
If you know the 3D printing technology you’ll be using, you’ll also know the materials available to you. Like printers, different materials have their own unique properties. When designing your model, account for these properties.
In FDM printing, for instance, ABS plastic is prone to warping, so your design’s base should be large enough to stay attached to the build plate. Flexibles don’t do too well with details, so maybe omit small features. These will all decrease chances of print failure.
Additionally, keep manufacturer specifications in mind. The same material produced by different manufacturers can behave differently, so always refer to the printing instructions and profiles provided with the material.
Take material considerations into account for a smooth printing experience.
Now, you’re ready to design models for 3D printing! These tips are simple, but will go a long way in making the printing process smoother.
License: The text of "3D Printing Design – 5 Tips for Creating the Perfect Model" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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