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Since each 3D printing material and 3D model is different, choosing the right wall thickness can be confusing. Yet, keeping these simple tips in mind will ensure that you won’t receive an unpleasant surprise and the walls of your object will have just the minimum (and maximum) thickness they need. Assign wall thicknesses to your 3D model First things first: it’s very important that every surface of your 3D model has been assigned a wall thickness. When using your 3D modeling software it is possible to design a surface without a wall thickness. However, our printers need the information about how thick you intend the wall of your object to be. Thus, when turning a 3D model into a real 3D print, wall thickness is needed. Wall thickness is simply the distance between one surface of your model and its opposite sheer surface. Many printing problems can be traced back to wall thickness issues. The minimum printable wall thickness primarily depends on the material you choose. However, other factors, such as the alignment, size, and overall design of your 3D model, can also influence the recommended minimum wall thickness. Before you decide to 3D print (and ideally before you start to design your model), you should know the basic guidelines for your printing material of choice. You can find specific information about the required wall thickness for each material in our design guides. Now, let’s have a look at some examples. Choosing the right minimum wall thickness If you decide to print in strong materials such as High Detailed Stainless Steel (0.3 mm) or Titanium (0.4 mm), your minimal wall thickness can be quite thin. However, we always recommend you to be on the safe side and make the walls a bit thicker. As said before, the minimum wall thickness can depend heavily on the structure and design of your 3D model. If you want to print in high detailed stainless steel, a vertical wall with a surface of 5 mm² only needs a wall thickness of 0.3 mm, whereas a vertical wall with a surface of 100 mm² needs to be at least 1 mm thick. A horizontal wall with an area of 100 mm² would need a 2 mm thickness. In this case, the size of the surface and the alignment (vertically or horizontally) are important when defining your minimum wall thickness (find out more about this in our design guide for High Detailed Stainless Steel). When printing in a more fragile material like Ceramics, the general rule that larger models need to be stronger holds true. While a small object of approx. 50 mm x 50 mm x 50 mm can survive with a minimum wall thickness of 3 mm, a ceramic object of 100 mm x 100 mm x 100 mm would need a thickness of 6 mm. For even bigger objects we recommend bigger than 6 mm thick walls. The same models printed in Gray Resin or Mammoth Resin would need walls with a thickness of 1 mm, 2 mm, and 3 mm (find out more about this in our design guides for Ceramics, Gray Resin and our different Resin options). Also keep the maximum wall thickness in mind After having mainly focused on walls that are too thin, you might encounter problems with walls that are too thick as well: for materials such as Ceramics and Metals, it is especially important to respect maximum wall thicknesses (i.e. 15 mm for Ceramics, 10 mm for (High Detailed) Stainless Steel), as thicker sections will generate too much internal stress and could cause the item to crack or even break. Too thick walls can be a reason why we cannot print some of your orders. The best solution is to make your model hollow and foresee holes to let the powder flow out: Once again you need to check the individual guidelines on how big these holes need to be: While 3 mm for small models (less than 10 x 10 x 10 mm) and 5 mm for larger models in fine for High Detail Stainless Steel, the openings for a ceramics object need to be at least 10 mm in diameter. Recommended wall thicknesses for 3D printing Our printers can print quite thin in Multicolor, but that doesn’t mean that printing very fine walls is a good idea. During shipping and finishing, parts of your object with a thickness below 1.5 mm are likely to break. Again, we recommend that you add extra wall thickness: 5 mm will make your model more solid and safer to handle. For some materials (such as multicolor), long, heavy items that hang in midair might break off when they are designed too thinly. If your model includes some more fragile parts (like outstretched arms of a figurine), try to add support structures as part of the design. Don’t ignore gravity when designing your model. Instead, we recommend using bent arms or arms holding an item that touches the ground (e.g. a shovel). Find out more about this in our design guide for Multicolor. Let’s take a look at one last example where maximum wall thickness plays an important role again: If you want to print a somewhat flexible object in Polyamide (like an iPhone case that needs to be clipped onto a phone), walls that are too thick might turn a flexible object into an item that is too bulky. In this case, a thickness of 1.5 to 2.5 mm would be ideal for creating a somewhat flexible product. Getting the perfect wall thickness in a nutshell Firstly, you need to know how to assign a wall thickness to every surface of your 3D model. This step might be a bit different in each 3D modeling software, but it is crucial for preparing a 3D print. The recommended thickness of the wall depends heavily on the printing material. Carefully read the design guides for the material of your choice. Do not forget that in some cases maximum wall thickness can also cause problems. Analyze and think
You shape the future, we do the rest! Students all over the world 3D print miniature concept cars, architectural and functional models, prototypes, and all sorts of other educational projects with us each and every day. We want to help you realize even more of these projects and discover the limitless possibilities of 3D printing. This is why i.materialise is offering a 10% student discount for all college and university students as well as for academic staff. This discount is valid on all uploaded orders via our 3D print lab. This discount is valid on all materials. Take a look at our materials page to learn more about them. This discount is valid for students and academic staff of all fields of study. The student discount is valid all year long (until Dec 31st, 2016). In 2017 (as of Jan 1st, 2017), return to this site to claim your student discount for 2017. Getting your discount code is easy: You are enrolled or work for a higher education institution, such as a college, university or technical school and you have an .edu or other official university/school email address. Simply click here and register for the student discount. We will verify your address and send you a 10% discount code within several days after your registration. So register now and receive your 10% discount code within several days. Did you already print something with us? Let us know in our forum!
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