Modeling 3D objects for printing can be a very confusing process for both newbies and the pros alike. There is never a one-size-fits-all solution to all the problems that arise between the modeling and printing stages.
The fact that we use different modeling software and printers magnifies these problems. Since models are printed using different materials with different specific handling requirements, most issues that arise may demand unique solutions.
However, with simple considerations, you can make the process efficient and minimize mistakes. Here are five crucial considerations you should bear in mind when converting an idea into a 3D model for printing.
1. Observe All the Material Design Rules
Every printing material has a set of design rules that are crucial for a successful print. All materials share some of the popular requirements, but it is good to assume that a material is wholly unique the first time you use it.
The nature of the printing material typically shapes design requirements. Models to be printed with strong materials are different from those to be printed with brittle materials.
Other material characteristics that will influence your design are texture, flexibility, and weight. You study the design rules for the material exhaustively even before you start designing the model.
2. Set The Proper Model Thickness
You can prevent many 3D problems by learning to set the right thickness on the model design. The value you set will, of course, depend on the size of the model and the material requirements.
If you set the wall thickness to be too thin, small parts of the model may not print well. Setting it too high may cause internal stress on the 3D object. As a rule of thumb, first, study the model you wish to print to avoid trial-and-errors.
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3. Factor in The Printing Technology
The design of your 3D models will be greatly influenced by the type of printer that will be used to print it. Therefore, before you begin designing the models, factor in the capabilities of the printer and the technology it uses.
Some 3D technologies are flexible enough to allow you to print almost anything - from Cantilever snap-fits to parts to overhangs. Others, however, are not so flexible such that even the flexibility of the material cannot produce the desired result.
Take the time to read about the technology the printer uses and understand its limitations and how they affect your model.
4. Consider the Right File Resolution
Once you have designed your model and are ready to export it, do not overlook the resolution setting. As you save the model to the STL file, be sure that the set file resolution is optimal: not too high, and not too low.
The resolution you set when exporting the model file determines the printer’s tolerance. Tolerance of 0.01mm is acceptable for most models and printing jobs. However, adjust this figure according to the model, the printing technologies, the printer, and the printing material.
5. Read the Modeling Software Guidelines
There are many different 3D modeling software in use today. These tools are not all the same in every respect. Some are ideal for creating 3D prints while others are made for 3D art, which may require further editing before they are ready for print.
Reading the software guidelines is an excellent step to understanding its capabilities and limitations. Go a step further and check out its reviews online and what other users have to say about it. This could save you a lot of pain and the costs of printing errors.
Printing 3D models is a relatively new technology. If you are already experimenting with it or already producing usable quality models, then you have come far. This guide should help you reinforce your grasp of the modeling process and how to avoid common problems that may arise.