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3D printing production parts is an absolute game-changer, there’s no debate in that. 3D printing itself is reinventing how we approach manufacturing (among many other industries).
As a designer, you’ll need to learn how to work with this technology and its parameters. Gone are the days of designing and building prototype after prototype until you get it just right. 3D printing removes much of the guesswork but like any new technology–there are things to learn!
Recently, we went through some formal education on Designing for Additive (DFA) and shared our nuggets with you. Check it out here. Today, we bring you this this article with the top five tips we’ve found in the industry overall to create a successful 3D printed part every time. Read on!
Designing 3D Printing Production Parts Well
Your design must account for the requirements of the 3D printing process and the capabilities of whatever printer you’re using. More importantly, though, you’ll need to consider your 3D printer’s limitations. Those limitations will determine what you can design and print successfully.
Besides the obvious—knowing your printer and double- or triple-checking the G code (the instructions that guide how the printer will perform) and the visualized models—here’s how to make sure you create a well-designed 3D part.
1. Establish a Firm Foundation
The majority of 3D printing failures happen when the base of the object being printed comes unglued. No, your 3D printed part isn’t going to become mentally unstable! But if it loses its grip on the printer surface and falls out of place, the whole part will be damaged.
Thus, it’s key to start by designing a base that will work well with your printer, as well as calibrating your printer’s settings to ensure a strong base adhesion. Turning off the fans during the first layer of printing, leveling the print beds, or adding thickness to your base layer can help it stick.
2. Reconsider Overhangs
Overhangs are just what they sound like. They’re areas of the part that hangover or jut out from the areas printed before them. This means they must either be designed to be supported by said other areas or not need support at all. Some 3D printers, particularly SLA and FDM types, have solid limitations on what they can do with overhangs (generally, it’s limited to 45 degrees).
If you don’t design accordingly, plan on using support structures during the printing process. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but working with supports can be a pain.
3. Think Wood Grain
When 3D printing, it’s key to design your parts for optimal strength. This means thinking about how the part will react under normal stress and use, and then designing accordingly. If you’re not sure how to best reinforce your part, think wood grain.
Woodgrain is formed in a way that enhances the strength of the wood, but typically the wood between the grain lines is softer, more prone to damage. The same goes for your part. Design and orient your part inside the printer in a way that reinforces where it needs to be supported during regular use and strain. This is typically along the X and Y-axis plane.
4. Don’t Lose Your Part to Warp
Not nearly as fun as warp speed, part warping can happen during the 3D printing process on parts with larger, flat surfaces. It’s a natural occurrence when things are being heated and cooled and physically reshaped like they are during 3D printing. Be sure to design and calibrate your machine accordingly.
5. Test, Calibrate, and Re-test
The final recommendation on our list may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget or overlook. When you’re printing an especially tricky object, you may want to test print the most complex sections separately to make sure they’re going to work well.
If these components don’t print smoothly during the test, they certainly won’t work when printing the whole part. Test, then recalibrate as necessary and test again to avoid wasting excess materials. If you couldn’t tell from this list, calibration is key!
DesignPoint Transforms Your 3D Printing Efforts
The trend of 3D printing production parts and additive manufacturing isn’t going anywhere. Might as well jump on board!
Are you ready to revolutionize your business or reinvent manufacturing with a 3D printer for production or production parts (or any other use)? Get in touch with us. DesignPoint will help you transform your business’s future, here and now!