3D Printing Design Guide
Here’s what you need to know when preparing your project for 3D printing. The most important thing you need to make sure of is that you provide us with a watertight, manifold mesh model that conforms to the tolerances of your chosen 3D printing process.
For details on the unique characteristics of FDM and SLS printer materials we offer, read our SLS vs FDM post. It will help you choose the most suitable option for your ideas, and dictate which of the below design guidelines to follow.
File Types, Scale and Units
We can work with the following formats for 3D printing:
- Production Ready: STL and OBJ for all 3D printing materials, VRML and X3D for colour sandstone
- File Preparation Service Required: STP/STEP, 3DS, 3DM, DWG
- All models should be scaled 1:1 as per intended final size and the units you designed in should be communicated to us in your inquiry
Overall Print Size Limitations
- FDM ABS & PLA Plastic: 220 x 140 x 140mm
- SLS Nylon: 300 x 300 x 600mm (300 x 300 x 300mm is recommended for precise parts)
- Full Colour Sandstone: 380 x 250 x 175mm
- Alumide: 190 x 220 x 300mm
Watertight, Manifold Mesh
To be production ready, your 3D model must be one continuous shell with no holes or cracks, so the shell would not leak if water was poured into it. If there are holes or apertures in your design, a manifold model can be maintained by giving the model walls a thickness. Further, make sure there are no intersecting surfaces within the shell, this can result in print failures.
- Layer height: minimum 0.1mm, typically 0.2mm
- Precision Tolerances: +/- 1mm
- Overhang Support: Max 45°, overhangs over 45° will require support material
- Max Bridging: 5mm, surface finish will sag and deterioriate beyond this limit
- Minimum detail size: 0.8mm
- Minimum supported wall thickness: 1mm, 2mm if unsupported
- Minimum supported wire thickness: 1mm, 2mm if unsupported
- Infill Density: 0% to 100%
- Layer height: typically 0.15mm
- Precision Tolerances: +/- 0.2mm
- Overhang and Bridging: No limit, no support needed
- Minimum detail size: 0.2-0.5mm
- Minimum supported wall thickness: 0.7-1mm, 1.5mm if unsupported
- Minimum supported wire thickness: 0.7-1mm, 1.5mm if unsupported
- Minimum clearance between parts for moving or interlocking details: 0.5mm
- Minimum escape hole diameter: 2-4mm
All the above information are our recommendations, please consider possible deviations to this depending on the specific design of your project.
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