Understanding 3D Printing

Infill Density

Percentage determines the density of the interior of the model. Lower is cheaper/faster and higher is stronger/higher cost

Infill density
Infill Overview

Most FDM 3d prints are not solid. Infill is best described as patterned geometry hidden within the part and is often used to fill empty space innside portions of the model.. There are several different patterns of infill with different qualities.

 

You can also edit the density of infill for parts that aren't solid. Increasing the infill density can increase the strength and integrity of the printed part but will also increase weight, time and overall cost. Decreasing the infill density will decrease the time and weight of the part which can be useful for large prints, however they may not be structurally sufficient.

 
 

Low Density (10%)

Standard Density (25%)

High Density (60%)

If you are printing an engineering part that needs to be structurally integral or a load bearing part, then high density will ensure that your part is solid. This increases the weight and time of the print substantially.

This density is useful when you need to decrease the time and weight of a print. Additionally, this is the preferred option for larger prints (that are not load bearing).

This density percentage is good for any common print. It is strong enough to sustain normal usage in a variety of applications.

Layer Height (Resolution)

Increasing or decreasing the layer height can drastically change the quality, time and cost of your print. The layer height of a print (which is normally measured in microns) can also impact the strength. Generally you can use thicker layers if your model contains more vertical walls and few low sloping areas.

Layer height comparison

0.16 mm

0.2 mm

0.28 mm

0.36 mm

Choose this option if your print needs to be smooth with very high detail. If your print has any textured surfaces or small detailed parts, 0.16mm layer height is a good choice to ensure that the print retains as much fine detail as possible. Additionally, high resolution layer heights increase the number of layers, which can make your print stronger. This will also increase the time of the print.

This is the standard layer height for most prints. It yields a balance of quality, speed and price.

Standard Layer Resolution (0.2 mm)

Thick Layers (0.3 mm)

This option is best if you are going to post process your print. Thicker layers decrease the time it takes to print, however, it makes the layer lines more visible. This setting works best with taller/larger prints and is the most cost effective.

Thin Layers (0.16 mm)

Support Material

In 3D printing, support material are structures that  are placed during slicing so it can support parts of the model that would otherwise print in air.

 

If your model has large overhangs (parts of a model that extends outwards with nothing under it), it will most likely require support to print while maintaining the original shape and dimension of the model.

 

Support does tend to slightly tarnish the surface of whatever it is touching. It is important to understand what parts of your model will require support so you can better plan out how you want the part to be printed or if it will require finishing.

3D printed part with support material attached
Support material separated from part

Support Material

Printed Part

 
 
Post Processing
ColorFabb metalfill polishing

In many cases, 3d printed parts are post processed to achieve the desired results.

 

Typical techniques include, spray primer filler, body filler (such as bondo), spray paint, alcohol vapor smoothing (for PVB prints), polishing (for metal fill materials) and even staining for wood filaments.

Oxidized finish on metal 3d print
 

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