- April 2023 Update
3D printed parts are heavily dependent on the CAD design and materials. A poorly designed part will break and will not sustain enough load. But sometimes even a well-designed part will show weakness. This is due to ignorance of other important and simple ways to strengthen 3D printed parts.
By using a good quality filament, designing for 3D printing and fine-tuning the slicer settings we can achieve better print strength every single time.
We share 5 simple ways to strengthen 3D printed parts.
Ways to Strengthen 3D Printed Parts
3D printing is a layer-by-layer deposition process for building an object from ground-up. This means that the layers are deposited in the 2D X-Y dimension while the third dimension is added in the vertical Z-direction. This inherently makes the layers deposited in the z-direction weak.
But this is a problem which cannot be eliminated but to ensure your printed part does not fail while being used in whatever application you printed it for, you can make certain decisions while printing which will ensure the part remains strong. The solution talked about here is part orientation. This is an often ignored aspect of 3D printing.
Part orientation refers to the way a part will be positioned on the print bed to be printed. The thought of part orientation should start from the point the part is being designed. So, the designer while modelling the part, can think of the forces applicable on the part in real-life conditions and then to ensure the forces do not fail the part, should design the part in a way that the weaker sections are not printed in the Z-direction. This means that the part will remain strong if you print it in a certain orientation.
In case you are well past the designing stage, then you can simply use the rotation tools in the slicer and orient the part in such a way that the weaker sections are printed in the X-Y orientation. This can strengthen 3D printed parts and also enhance its performance. A proper orientation can go a long way in achieving a stronger 3D printed part.
Appropriate Infill Pattern & Percentage
Infill is the material filled inside the outer walls of a 3D print. The amount of the infill can be controlled in terms of the material percentage and the pattern. A 100% infill percentage will make the part completely solid but it will unnecessarily increase the material consumption, increase the weight of the object, increase the time taken to print the part and ultimately increase the cost of the product. But this also does not mean that you reduce the infill and make the part completely hollow. Less infill can also mean weak infill, and such an infill will obviously mean a weaker part.
Therefore is it recommended to use optimum infill pattern and percentage. Proper control over infill settings will strengthen 3D printed parts.
Optimum Print Settings
Adjusting and customising the print settings suitable for every print will result in better quality prints. By selecting the optimum temperature, fine-tuning the fan speeds, adjusting the layer height and the infill percentage with the pattern, etc. will result in strengthening the 3D printed parts.
You should make it a practice to always use high-quality materials for your prints. High-quality materials are those that always deliver great results, their performance is reliable and are easy to print with. These can be basic materials like ABS, PLA, PETG, or even engineering grade materials like Carbon Fiber, PEEK and others. These materials will always deliver better strength to your parts than using cheaper materials.
Note that your print will only be as good as the material used, so the optimum selection of material is important. The selection should also depend on the application of the part to be printed. Employing sensible decision making while choosing your materials will go a long way in helping you strengthen 3D printed parts.
Anneal or Post-Process
Annealing is a process of heating a metal, glass or even some polymers and allowing it to cool down steadily so as to remove the internal stresses and toughen the part.
- Even PLA can be subjected to annealing and the prints can be made stronger. In a typical test, annealed PLA shows around 40% increase in its stiffness. For annealing, PLA is baked at 80oC (temperature depends on the temperature properties of a specific brand of PLA) for 20 minutes and then allowed to cool down.
- ABS can also be annealed and it can be baked at 100oC (temperature depends on the temperature properties of a specific brand of ABS) for 30 minutes and then allowed to cool down.
- Nylon12 is baked at 130oC (temperature depends on the temperature properties of a specific brand of Nylon filament) for 30 minutes and then allowed to cool down.
3D printed parts can be easily strengthened by simple aforementioned measures. By exploring more printer settings, the print quality and strength can be further improved.
We encourage hobbyists and enthusiasts to share their experiences and observations for strengthening 3D printed parts. Comment on the article to share how you strengthen your 3D printed parts.
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