5 Easy Ways to Make Stronger 3D Printed Parts
3D printed parts tend to be brittle and weak if poorly designed. Using a combination of good design practices, smart print settings, and high quality filament, you can dramatically increase the strength of your parts without breaking the bank.
1. Start with High Quality Materials
Before you begin designing for strength it is important to remember that a print is only as good as the material you use. It is important to select the proper material from a quality supplier. For example, a great value filament for strength is Engineering Grade PLA. If you are looking for translucent prints that can resist impact well, try PCTG. Today’s market offers makers a wide variety of inexpensive filaments for many different print jobs.
2. Select a Strong Infill Pattern
Infill is the printed material inside the walls of a print. Most slicers offer a variety of densities and patterns to choose from. It is important to remember that as you increase the percentage of infill used, the amount of filament increases and the part gets more expensive. An easy way to increase strength while keeping cost low is by selecting a naturally strong infill design. Rectilinear and honeycomb are two popular patterns which bring strength to your printed parts. In addition, increase the extrusion multiplier slightly and do not increase the infill pattern speed, instead, use the same speed as your perimeter settings. Proper infill print settings are critical to printing strong parts.
3. Powerful Print Settings
While material and design are important, quality print settings have a big impact on interlayer adhesion. Printing in the middle of the suggested print temperature range, at a slow speed, and with multiple perimeters facilitate bonding. Utilizing smaller layer heights can also increase strength of the printed part. Lastly, avoid the use of your cooling fan when possible to ensure the part stays warm and bonds properly.
4. Choose a Proper Orientation
Typical 3D printed parts are weakest along the z-axis. It is important to orient your prints so portions of the part that receive most the stress are not on the z-axis. Recent industry developments may soon make this a non-factor. FuseBox technology allows FDM printers to print parts that are equally strong in the z-axis as the x and y axes. For now, most printers still need to factor in z-axis weakness when printing. Understand the forces that your print will be subjected to and ensure that your XY axes are parallel on that plane.
5. Anneal or Post-Process
If you typically print with PLA, you can anneal your prints to make them stronger. This test shows that annealed PLA can increase stiffness by as much as 40%. Annealing is a simple process. Bake a typical print at 110C for 20 minutes. The high heat crystalizes the polymers to provide increased mechanical properties.
Stronger 3D printed parts are only a few steps away when you follow these simple tips. Remember to start with good material, design for strength, and utilize smart print settings to ensure that all your parts are strong.