How to Make Models for 3D Printing

Thanks to the advances in 3D printing technology over the last few years, it is now possible to bring your wildest imaginations to reality in just a few hours. This revolutionary technology allows you to develop 3D models that can be easily transformed into physical objects with complete freedom over the design. In 3D printing, every print starts with a digital model designed with the help of CAD software. This model is then converted into instructions which can be easily understood by a 3D printer. The final outcome of the print is a physical representation of the digital 3D model. Unfortunately, sometimes 3D models do not turn exactly into what you had envisioned, and that brings us to the BIG QUESTION – how to make models for 3D printing the right way?

Are you looking for a 3D printing specialist? Get in touch with HLH Prototypes today. 

In order to make sure you are able to create as well as print exactly what you have in mind, here are some key pointers to consider:

Design for the ‘material’

Understanding how to make models for 3d printing begins by taking into account the filament material that you would be using. In animation software, models exist in a world with no gravity and physics. However, for these models to exist in the physical space, keeping in mind the characteristics of the material, like its tolerance and uses is essential. Other key considerations, especially when designing functional prototypes are hardness and flexibility. For example, flexible filament might not be appropriate for designs that have press-fit or snap-fit connections. Not paying heed to the material during the designing phase could result in many issues, including stringing, warping, & bridging failure.

Split the model into parts 

Determining how to make models for 3d printing requires an understanding of the need for building size limitations. This is especially important when creating a 3D model which you’ll be printing using a desktop 3D printer. That’s because the size of your printer might not be large enough for producing the action figure or prop that you’re designing. In this case, it is best to split the model into many parts so the print does not have too many support structures. Splitting any 3D model into 2 or 3 parts, and then orienting these parts into different directions would ensure that each part has lesser overhanging features. 

Remove the sharp corners to avoid warping

Warping is one of the most serious issues faced by 3D design experts, especially when printing with high temperature filaments such as ABS or Nylon. An important part of learning how to make models for 3d printing successfully is to understand what efforts are required for solving the problem of warping. The efforts usually start with making tweaks to the temperature settings, and may even involve carefully applying adhesives to the printer bed. The good part is that the warping issue can be avoided by taking some useful steps during the design phase. 

The most typical warping manifestation occurs when there is a material shrinkage during 3D printing, which results in the corners of the print to lift & detach from the build plate. The corners are especially at risk as that’s where the thermal stress produced by the thermal contraction gets accumulated. One of the best ways to avoid the warping issue is to design round corners that would help prevent the buildup of thermal stress. With round corners, thermal stress will get distributed more evenly both on the base layer and on other parts of the print.

An understanding of the above mentioned 3D printing fundamentals and design constraints are sure to help you figure out how to make models for 3D printing successfully.

Are you looking for a 3D printing specialist? Get in touch with HLH Prototypes today. 


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