In the last blog post we were introduced to the basic idea of 3D printing, where objects are built up layer by layer. In this post we will dive into some more detailed ideas behind designing for 3D printing.
There are three ideas we will focus on: layer thickness, print orientation, and strength. Let's explore each of these ideas by building a few more objects with modeling clay (recipe here)!
The thinner each layer is, the more detailed your object can be. For example, look how much better this sphere looks when there are seven layers (left) compared to only three (right). The downside of having more layers is that it makes the printing take longer! It took me about four minutes to build the sphere on the left, and half the time to build the sphere on the right.
Another thing to consider when 3D printing is what direction you want to build the object in. This is called "print orientation". To explore this, let's look at three different ways to 3D print a bridge.
The last thing to consider is how orientation will also change how strong the object is. For example, if I drop the sphere below, how do you think it will break? Along the middle (left image), or between two of the layers (right image)?
Here's what happened when I dropped it:
It broke along the edge between two layers! So, if you want an object to be strong in a certain spot, it is important not to have an edge there.
There you have it! A quick explanation of layer thickness, print orientation, and strength. Here are some questions to think about before you start building your next 3D printed object with modeling clay:
- How thin should the layers be?
- What part of my object is the most likely to break?
- What orientation should I build the object in?
- Do I need any support material?
Good luck building!
This activity is based on the book If: Ball, Then: Catch, available here!