How Part Orientation Affects a 3D Print

July 26, 2023
3D Part Print Orientation

When you select Formero for your 3D printing service requirements, our team of experts takes careful consideration of the optimal orientation of your CAD file to achieve the best outcomes in terms of strength, surface finish, and cost-effectiveness. We understand how part orientation affects a 3D printed part and the significance of these factors, as they directly impact the overall quality of your printed part.

Formero employs various advanced 3D printing technologies to produce exceptional parts. While each technology possesses unique characteristics, they all share fundamental aspects. All our print technologies work by constructing the object layer by layer, necessitating support structures to hold the part in place during the printing process. After printing, a post-processing stage is conducted to remove the support material and address any imperfections that may have arisen. Any additional finishes or modifications are applied as the final step, resulting in a strong, flawless, and ready-to-use final product.

It’s important to note that each 3D printing technology has specific characteristics that directly influence the strength, finish, and cost of the printed part. In this overview, we will delve into these three crucial variables, which are essential considerations across all our print technologies.

Part Strength:

When aiming to optimise the strength of 3D prints, the orientation of the prints plays a crucial role in determining their performance under stress. For instance, Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) technology exhibits non-isotropic behaviour, making it more susceptible to delamination between layers than tearing along a single layer. This behaviour is analogous to how wood splits more easily along its grain.

Other technologies such as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Multi Jet Fusion (MJF), and Stereolithography (SLA) offer more uniform density in prints, but careful consideration of part orientation is still necessary to ensure optimal strength. Understanding the forces applied to a printed part is essential to guarantee its durability and strength.

To maintain our commitment to consistent quality outcomes and uphold our Quality Management System, we regularly perform destructive testing to evaluate the strength and functional characteristics of our functional print materials. Through this ongoing daily process, we ensure that our printed parts consistently meet the highest standards of strength and reliability. By actively monitoring and validating the performance of our materials, we provide our clients with the confidence and assurance that their printed parts will consistently deliver exceptional results.

Formero Part Orientation

Cost Effectiveness:

The orientation of a part during 3D printing generally does not affect its volume or final weight. However, it does have a considerable impact on several other aspects, particularly in SLA and Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) technologies. One crucial factor is the amount of support material used, which can be influenced by how the part is positioned. Additionally, the printing time and the overall quality of the final part can also be affected by its orientation.

Irrespective of the specific printing technology employed, reducing the z-height (vertical height) and minimising the need for support structures can lead to significant time and cost savings in the printing process. By strategically orienting the part to require fewer supports, the overall efficiency of the printing operation can be improved, leading to reduced material usage, faster printing times, and ultimately lowering the overall end cost of the print.

Formero Part Support Graphic

Finish Quality:

Similar to traditional manufacturing processes like Injection Moulding or CNC machining, 3D printing also gives rise to certain specific characteristics based on the chosen print method. One prominent trait associated with 3D printing is known as “stair-stepping.” This effect occurs due to the visible transition between individual layers in the printed object and is directly influenced by two main factors: the layer thickness of the chosen printing process and the angle at which these layers are oriented concerning the build platform.

To minimise the pronounced stair-stepping effect on printed parts, two effective methods are commonly employed: part orientation and post-processing. By carefully selecting the optimal orientation of the part during printing, it is possible to reduce the prominence of the stair-stepping effect. Similarly, performing post-processing techniques on the printed parts can also help in smoothing out the layered appearance, although this may involve additional processing time and cost.

In summary, just like in other manufacturing methods, 3D printing exhibits its own unique characteristics, and understanding how to address specific traits like stair-stepping is crucial to achieving the desired quality and aesthetics of the final printed parts.

 

Injection Moulding

The presence of “stair stepping” is a common occurrence across all 3D printing technologies, but it is generally manageable, and in many cases, not even noticeable in the final printed parts.
Support structures used during the printing process can also influence the overall quality of a print. While they may be necessary in certain regions of the part, optimising the orientation of the part can significantly impact the surface finish quality of the final product.

At Formero, we prioritise achieving high-quality surface finishes directly from the printer by utilising our industrial-grade machines, which can achieve tight tolerances. This means that post-processing is typically not a primary concern in the manufacturing process. However, we do offer in-house finishing techniques such as sanding, bead-blasting, tumbling, dying, and painting for parts that require further enhancement of the surface finish. These techniques are particularly useful in eliminating any remaining stair-stepping effect, ensuring a superior and polished final surface finish for our clients’ products.

Conclusion:

Formero’s approach to 3D printing revolves around a meticulous focus on orientation to attain the best possible outcomes concerning strength, surface finish, and cost-effectiveness. Our team of experts comprehends the significance of these factors and how they influence the overall quality of the printed parts. We leverage cutting-edge 3D printing technologies, utilise support structures when needed, and implement post-processing techniques to enable the production of exceptional and functional end-use parts as well as prototypes.

We acknowledge that each 3D printing technology has its own set of limitations. However, our profound understanding and expertise enable us to overcome these constraints effectively. Through our careful orientation strategies, we optimise part strength, minimise the use of support materials, and enhance the surface finish of the printed parts.

By combining advanced technologies, skilful design orientation, and thoughtful post-processing, we ensure that our clients receive high-quality, cost-efficient, and reliable 3D printed products tailored to their specific requirements. At Formero, our commitment to delivering superior results remains at the core of our 3D printing services.


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