Design product idea
First, we design the 3D printing product idea in a CAD program. For this purpose there are free versions, e.g. FreeCAD, Blender as well as programs with costs, e.g. SolidWorks. Then we export the geometry. There are several formats for export such as .amf stl or obj file.
3D printing settings
We then load the file into a suitable slicer program. For this purpose there are programs like Prusa-Slicer or Cura. Calculations are then made there with the settings made:
- The material selection determines basic settings.
- The temperature is determined by the material.
- We determine the percentage of filling of the print ourselves.
- We determine the layer height according to quality and time specifications.
- We use additional edge settings for a better hold.
- Fine-tuning in expert mode can affect the supports, for example. Or more 3D printing settings for nozzle, fan, extruder speed, etc.
Expert mode Prusa Slicer 2.3.0
We take a look at the settings options on the Prusa Slicer. Here we are in the Expert tab.
- In this section you can see the model. Here we can position several models on the printing plate.
- Under the print settings we can change the layer height. The adjustable range is between 0.05 mm and 0.3 mm. The lower the resolution, the more accurate the surface will be. At the same time, the reduction in resolution is accompanied by an increase in printing time.
- Under this drop-down menu we select the filament material. Before we select the layer height, we set the material for the filament. For this purpose, we relatively often use materials such as PLA, PETG and ABS.
- We also set the correct printer under this setting. This allows us to assess whether the print area is sufficient and later generate the correct printer code. This printer code is also called G-code.
- If certain areas are shown as overhang after the slice process, we add support material here.
- Furthermore, we determine the percentage filling for each project. With this we increase the density or reduce the weight. Stability also plays a role here. We also achieve lighting effects with certain materials.
- An edge is useful if there is only a small adhesive surface. We also recommend this setting for high pressure heads.
- The model can be moved by simply clicking and dragging. In object editing, we rotate objects around axes or scale them.
- In the info area we get information the size, the volume and the area of the 3D part. After the slice process, there is more interesting information below.
- After clicking this button, the 3D model is split into layers and written to G-code for printing.
- Advanced settings for layers, fills and speeds.
- Advanced settings for filament, overdrive and cooling.
- Printer-specific settings for the print bed, user-defined G-code, etc. We do not recommend beginners to make any settings here.
Create and optimize 3D print file
In the next step we calculate the 3D print file. This is done by clicking on “Slice now”.
- You can check the individual layers with a slider. A legend distinguishes between different layers. These include:
- Outer contour
- Internal infill
- Massive infill
- Upper solid infill
- Bridging Infill
- Gap filling
- Overhang can also occur
- We observe the influence on the printing time and material requirements
If necessary, the CAD object is reworked. With this we optimize the resolution or the printing time. We also try to avoid filament formation, which is caused by an increased outflow of filament. This point becomes particularly visible when the nozzle frequently moves back and forth between distant points. Threads then sometimes appear in the gap. For this we need to make expert settings in the tabs.
Once all the preparatory steps have been taken, it’s time to print out the 3D printed product idea. You should get a high quality filament that corresponds to the color ideas. This should also have the right diameter for your printer (e.g. 1.75 mm or 3 mm). Then a G-code file is exported by the slicing program and passed on to the printer either with a storage medium (e.g. SD card, USB stick) or via a server application (e.g. Octo-Print). The printing board should be cleaned from previous prints and the environment should preferably be room temperature > 20 ° C and there should be no draughts. Depending on the material, there are more or fewer complications with different parameters. The printing unit should be able to move freely without encountering any obstacles in the vicinity. The filament roll should be able to move with as little resistance as possible.
Printing only begins after the temperature at the printing nozzle and the printing board has been set. You can also preheat first. It is also advisable to calibrate the first layer for new materials in order to check the adhesion to the pressure board and, if necessary, to fine-tune the Z-axis height.
Result of 3D printing product idea
Let’s take a critical look at a printed example. The coarsest resolution with 0.3 mm was used and PLA as material. After printing, the 3D printed product idea is released from the print board.
Especially for such small 3D prints it is recommended to print with a nozzle with a smaller diameter. As standard we have installed a 0.4 mm nozzle. With it we print medium sized object with a good accuracy and a good speed. When using smaller nozzles, small parts can be dissolved more finely. That is why you can see the individual layers very roughly depicted in this picture.
If we compare it to a larger object the difference becomes quite obvious.