Design for Additive Manufacturing

Friday May 28, 2021

Design optimization for 3D printing, very important! You can see what happens if a design doesn't match the material properties in the picture. The ABS PCB is warped too much (property of ABS), causing the thin, floating wall to separate from the support. Not disastrous in this case, but the 'fit' of the part is no longer optimal. Read here, among other things, about what designing for 3D printing, called Design for Additive Manufacturing, entails.

Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) always takes three factors into account:

  1. The printer and printing technique: Every technique has different design rules, such as wall thicknesses, detail size, orientation, openings and whether or not there is support (SLS vs. FDM for example). Not only the technology, but also the specific printer has its own rules. An SLA print for the Form 3 sometimes has slightly different requirements than for its bigger brother, the Form 3L.
  2. The material: Materials can differ considerably from each other in terms of printing behaviour. For example, a glass-filled material can be much stronger, but also more brittle with thin walls. Flexible materials often respond differently to support than rigid materials. And, as in the example, some materials are more prone to warping than others.
  3. The application: How the print will be used later can have a big influence on the optimal shape. The forces that are later applied to a part must be taken into account in the orientation, especially with highly anisotropic prints such as those with fiber reinforced materials. The strength of these prints differs considerably per print direction. Also think of small details such as click fingers that can break if they are printed in the wrong direction. But also the smoothness or detail size can be influenced by the printing direction.


With DfAM the specific requirements for each component must always be considered, and the various options and factors must be weighed up in order to arrive at the best choice. There is no 'one size fits all'. Understanding these principles is important and will help you a lot to get the most out of a machine.

Want to know more about DfAM? In our training courses we teach your organization how to get the most out of your 3D printer, or even how to design for the most commonly used 3D printing techniques. Please contact us! We will be happy to look at what suits your organization.

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