Designing for 3D Printing

Additive manufacturing is a relatively new method of creating parts that opens up possibilities to designers that weren’t previously possible with traditional manufacturing. Whether you’re simplifying multiple-piece assemblies into one solid part or utilizing the many benefits of complex geometries, 3D printing provides a massive new toolbox for you to explore.

However, there are elements to consider when designing a model for 3D printing. Our design team is available to provide insight and help you troubleshoot.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re designing your part:

 

Not all 3D printing technologies or materials will behave the same

There are many types of additive manufacturing, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. A model that was designed to be produced with a Fusion Deposition Model (FDM) 3D printer may not be optimized for the Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology. Furthermore, in each technology, materials print differently. Elastomeric materials require certain design considerations.

Ideally, the performance requirements and goals for the part should be assessed; from there, the printing process and material can be chosen, and a model designed with optimized printability and properties can be created.

 

Utilize the benefits of 3D printing

Since you’re considering 3D printing for your part, you probably already have a goal in mind that can’t be achieved with injection molding or other types of manufacturing. That’s a great first step! We want to make sure that you’re getting all the benefits from 3D printing that you possibly can. 3D printing offers the ability for mass customization, serialization, complex geometries, lightweighting, and simplifying parts with multiple-part assembly.

 

Avoid some common mistakes

A 3D model is only a theoretical part until it has been printed into a physical piece. The model isn’t subject to the laws of physics that your actual part will endure both during the printing process and end use application. There are some common pitfalls when creating 3D models such as ignoring material property guidelines, designing parts with thin walls, overhangs, hollow unvented cavities, structures that aren’t self-supporting and floating parts. We’re happy to take a look at your model and help you troubleshoot areas that might be problematic.

 

Maximize cost savings

3D printing can be a cost-effective way to produce parts, and it can certainly add value. However, there are elements to consider when you’re creating your model and planning the bottom line of the finished product. Cost per part is mostly related to the size. Tall parts will take longer to print, large parts will reduce how many pieces can fit on a platform, and of course the bigger the part the more material is used. We can work with you to meet your goals while also exploring options to reduce cost and create the most efficient design.

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