3D printing has come a long way in a short time, but there are still some hard and fast rules that are good to keep in mind. They can be broken, but only once you really know them well enough to know when. Here are three good rules to keep in mind when making your 3D designs:
Be sure to design with support material in mind. Every 3D print job will have to add support material in most cases it is just the nature of 3D printing and physics. Overhangs at more than 45 degrees will often need support butyou can design bridging materials or orient your part differently to make your part look cleaner and have less post clean-up time. This isn’t ideal for a production run where removal will have to be repeated for every object. Bottom line is the goal of any part being printed should use the least amount of support for the following reasons. Faster print times, use less materials, lessen support removal time which can include slight sanding where support material was removed and lessen the potential of support material removal marks on key areas of the part.
Always know the capabilities of your 3D printer because they really vary and may not be able to print to the tolerances you need. If you have a larger nozzle, you’ll want to avoid designing in smaller features. Assume the smallest feature you can include is double the thread width, a good rule that Broadway scenic designer Kacie Hultgren formulated when doing scale model set designs.
The good is not the enemy of the perfect. If you’re having trouble realizing a design the way you have it in your head, but you have a readily printable design that’s 90-percent of the way there, try printing the good version out. Once you have it in your hands and can interact with it, this can help you visualize the changes that need to be made much more easily than looking at a version on the screen. You may even see better ways of improving it than what you’d pictured in your head, or you may simply decide that the version you have designed is ready.
Often, creative people postpone getting rough drafts and prototypes into their hands because they know the result will be good instead of perfect. When money’s involved, though, get the good in your hands first. Then you can figure out what to do from there. Otherwise, you may procrastinate for perfection to the point where you’ve lost a contract or missed a window of opportunity. A 3D printing company such as ours can even make recommendations from our experience as we produce the prototype for you.
We can help in the 3D design and 3D printing process. We can even reverse engineer a part so that you can 3D print replacements yourself. Perhaps the most important rule is this: don’t be afraid to ask for help. 3D printing is a growing field, and asking for consultation now stops you from being stuck tomorrow.