Design 3D Models for 3D Printing & New Prototypes

3D design solutions: Create successful 3D models for your prototype.

Do you crave geometric freedom, a process to create better designs, and prototypes with better utilization? Do you wish to reduce waste material in your manufacturing process? Then 3D printing is the way to go. 3D design solutions allow you to create inexpensive and yet complex designs quickly. You can create a unique 3D model and turn it into a physical prototype in a few hours. But not all 3D models translate successfully in 3D printable prototypes. During the modeling process, there are factors that must be considered to ensure the resulting prototype is sturdy, fit for its purpose (usable), and durable.

Stick to the 45-degree rule

There’s a reason most designers try their best to avoid supports for overhanging structures. Adding support means having to use that much more material to create the prototype. They could also result in uneven finishes.

If your 3D model is made up of overhanging features, but you want to reduce the number of supports, then follow the 45-degree rule. According to the 45-degree rule, any incline exceeding 45 degrees will require a supporting structure to take on its weight. Also, an angle close to or greater than 45 degrees can seriously test the strength of the filament material used to build the prototype.

Solution: Ensure all inclines are around 30 degrees and not more.

1. If you must use supports for your 3D design solutions, integrate them into your model

Support material can leave unsightly marks on your 3D-printed prototype. It also takes time to remove support material. If you must use supports so that your 3D printable is successful, consider incorporating the support into the model. That way, you won’t have to remove the supports after printing.

When you incorporate supports into your prototype, you don’t have to compromise on the design or alter the geometry.

Solution: There are several ways you can integrate support into your designs. It all boils down to how creative you can get. For example, if you are creating a prototype of a doll, you can consider making the doll lean against a pillar so the pillar supports it. Cones and helper discs are other support options that you can incorporate into a prototype.

Consider splitting the design into several parts that are oriented in different directions. That way, you won’t require too many support structures.

2. Pay attention to material guidelines

Every printing material is unique and has its own set of properties. While some materials are very strong and solid, others are brittle or flexible. While some materials are smooth, others have a rough texture. The list of differences in properties and characteristics goes on and on.

Before designing your 3D model, you must know what material you will be using to print the prototype. Every material comes with specific design recommendations that you must consider when designing corners, overhanging parts, strengthening parts, and so on.

Solution: Once you have chosen the material you will work with, ensure you stick to the 3D model design guidelines that suit that material. Read and thoroughly understand design guides before you begin working on the 3D model.

Consider comparing materials so you choose the best material for your design.

3. Pay attention to wall thickness

Inattention to wall thickness is one of the most common reasons for 3D models to fail. Here are some scenarios that are sure to fail:

  • Small parts with fragile walls break off easily.
  • Walls that are too thick create a lot of internal stress that could lead to the prototype cracking.

Solution: Choose the right minimum wall thickness, but as well as that, keep in mind that there is also a maximum wall thickness. Consider the material used and also the design (any weak sections) when determining wall thickness.

4. Consider warping – a natural phenomenon of 3D printing

Warping or curling is one of the most common occurrences in 3D printing. Materials with high-temperature filaments deform more quickly than others. One solution is to stick to low-temperature filaments for your prototype to avoid warping. But if you are determined to use a high-temperature filament for your prototype, you can make changes to your 3D model.

Solution: Design rounded corners. Rounded corners reduce thermal stress on the base layer as well as the entire print. You can also consider using mouse ears – small discs at the corner of the base layer of your 3D model to increase the surface contact and prevent warping at the corners.

3D design solutions are fantastic for creating quick prototypes. But the success of a prototype will also depend on the success of the 3D model. The tips outlined here are designed to increase the success of 3D models as printed prototypes.

DesignPoint is a two-decade-old company that deals with everything 3D – including 3D software, 3D printing, 3D services, and 3D training.