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This is the second instalment in our series of blogs aimed at helping improve your 3D printing experience. To read the first blog entry, please click the button below.
The following has been generously submitted by mechanical engineering researcher Colin Keogh. We would like to thank him for taking the time to share his extensive knowledge of 3D printing with both us here at Ink3D.ie and you, the reader.
10 Tips for high quality prints.
When designing your print, allows stick to the 45 degree rule, as in minimize the amount of 45 degree angles in your print. 45 degree angles result in horizontal overhangs, which can ruin your prints. Change your orientation, print in sections or redesign your parts to minimize this risk.
For complex prints, add your own custom support structures to the models. These structures will allow you to fully support your printed parts, while minimizing waste and print time. Automatic support settings on 3D printer are clumsy & inefficient, so if i doubt add your own.
Rafts can adversely affect the surface finish of the bottom of your print. If possible avoid rafts or add custom rafts to delicate parts of your print.
If you are using rafts or brims, they can help give an early idea of part quality. You can gauge how well the filament is flowing, adhesion to both the bed and material itself and general sizing. Remember that prints with rafts can affect surface finish, and will probably need some manual surface finishing.
Remember to include tolerances if you intend for your prints to fit together. Generally 0.2-0.3mm give a snug fit, while >0.4mm gives a looser removable fit. Some printer can print parts slightly larger than the model used, this is due to the way it lays down print filament. Its a good idea to test fit parts (fullsize or on a smaller scale) to ensure appropriate fitting.
There isn't always a need to print solid, or even partially filled objects. Using shells can help reduce print time, add strength to a part, reduce weight, help control wall thickness and help part adhesion.
Changing the layer thickness for specific parts of a print can help improve overall quality. Exterior faces can be printed thicker than interior pieces, helping to improve surface finish. Multiples of nozzle thickness and layer height help increase surface finish quality.
Part orientation during printing can affect the overall quality of your prints. Depending on your printer, you may achieve higher quality in either X/Y or Z axis depending on the geometry of your part. So experiment with your printer, see which axis has the best print quality for your part and over time you should be able to get a feel for the best orientation for your parts.
Printed parts fractures are more likely to occur along print lines, as in printed lines separate due to applied force, damage or poor bonding . The best solution is to orientate your parts to ensure that applied stresses are perpendicular to print lines. This should improve the overall strength of your part, and help stop de-lamination of print layers.
Don't be afraid to tackle complex print in place parts. With good planning, complex parts with hinges, moving parts, complex structures or even break-away sections can be printed in one go. Even if such parts fail to print, you might learn something from the failure which might help you improve your parts in the future.
About the Author.
Colin Keogh is a mechanical & energy engineer working out of University College Dublin. He mainly focuses on the areas of alternative & biological renewable energy technologies, engineering design/consultancy and advanced manufacturing/3D Printing technologies. He is currently investigating advanced 3D printing methods, customer polymer filament bends and the performance characteristics of 3d print materials. Colin loves working on collaborative projects.