Mar. 11, 2015 | By Alec

Sometimes 3D printing projects just don’t come out as planned; occasionally the results are just too weak and brittle or the quality is just terrible, things like that. As there are so many parameters to keep track of, those results are sometimes unavoidable, but more often than not it happens when you’re just playing around and testing the effects of certain settings and unusual designs. Fortunately, thanks to a study done by 3D printing start-up 3D Matter, you won’t have to go through a whole trial-and-error process anymore. Save yourself time, money and frustration and find out what printing parameters are right for you.

If you’ve never heard of 3D Matter before, that's probably because they are only just stepping out of obscurity. As founder Arthur Sebert explains to us, they are a 3D printing startup with a specific interest in material functioning. In particular, they want to make more information about all the various filaments and possibilities available. After all, we’ve all heard of flexible or exceptionally strong filaments, but realizing those effects with your own FDM 3D printer is another matter. Over the past few months they have been focusing on the specific printing parameters and its effects on 3D printing quality, which has yielded some interesting results. Specifically, they have developed a series of charts that can be used to find out what settings yield the best results when perusing certain results in terms of strength, quality, cost or speed.

Different infills, all providing different results.

As Arthur explains, their study has been trying to answer one question: What is the influence of infill %, layer height and infill pattern on my 3D prints? "There is a double goal for this study: on the one hand, help the average user really understand the trade-offs they are facing in terms of strength, quality, cost and speed," Arthur explains. "On the other hand we provide the more technical user with an in-depth analysis of how the parameters studied influence mechanical performance."

Now the research itself was quite extensive, and its full results can be found here. But what they have essentially done is conduct a series of tests with items 3D printed in PLA at various infills, layer heights and infill patterns. These were tested for their tensile strength (or the amount of stress they can endure), for elongation at break, for rigidity and for yield stress.

While that has resulted in a lot of data of which more can be found in their article, most useful is a table of the preferred settings you should choose for certain required results. First of all, it might be best to determine what these values actually refer to. As Arthur explains in his study: "Strength corresponds to the maximum stress the specimen can take before breaking. Speed describes the printing time of a specimen. Cost is derived from the actual weight of the specimen, and assumes 30€/kg. Quality relates to the general aspect of printed parts based on their layer height. Quality is not the focus of this study but the relationship between quality and layer height is generally accepted. "

So what is it you’re after? "Does your print need strength or quality? Are you trying to minimize cost or are you trying to save time? Or is it – as is often the case – a combination of these requirements?" The table above provides some useful tips for what effects certain settings will bring about, based on extensive testing. Note that, as you might have expected, high levels of infill provide high-strength results, while combinations with certain layer heights produce some very interesting results. For optimal all-round results, an infill of 70% and a layer height of 0.2 mm might be best.

While a useful guide, they’ve also developed a table with more detailed (and color-coded) results, which you can see below. Depending on what you’re after, this easily and understandably shows exactly what settings you need for optimal results.

But while they were at it, infill pattern was also extensively studied. Of the five patterns studied in terms of strength (Linear, Diagonal, Hexagonal, Catfill and Moroccan stars), Arthur and his team discovered that Linear is the most durable pattern to use, but only just. Diagonal and Hexagonal showed results that were almost as positive, though Catfill and Moroccan starts were by far the weakest structures. "We show that generally, the best patterns to use are Linear or Diagonal (=Linear tilted 45°). Indeed, decorative patterns such as Moroccan stars and Catfill show poor performance and should only be used if they are exposed and are part of the design," they write.

These results should go a long way towards optimizing your 3D printing projects and minimizing expenses through failed products. But if you’re looking for more detailed information and results, you can find them as part of the full study on the 3D Matter website here (free of charge).


Posted in 3D Printing Technology


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DaStudent wrote at 3/19/2016 4:18:49 AM:

Brilliant study, thanks for posting

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