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HelpTutorialsThings to keep in mind when designing for 3D Printing

Things to keep in mind when designing for 3D Printing

When you're designing a 3D model for a render or animation there's little need to pay any attention to the reality of the physical world. 3D Modeling and Digital Scultping for 3D Printing can be quite different.

As an introduction to modeling for 3D Printing, here we will review the key tips for preparing your 3D files.

1. Making your Mesh Water-Tight

A water-tight mesh is achieved by having closed edges creating a solid volume. If you were to fill your geometry with water would nothing leak out? Check your normals and make sure they all face outward. Any flipped normals will be read as holes by the printer. You may have to clean up any internal geometry that could have been left behind accidentally from booleans.

Normals facing out:

Normals Facing Out

No internal geometry left behind from booleans:

No internal geometry

If you are having trouble finding problem areas, tools such as Netfabb and AccuTrans can help.

2. Removing Non-Manifold Geometry

Non-Manifold geometry can be defined as any edge shared by more than two faces. Non-Manifold geometry may occur when a face or edge is extruded but not moved, resulting in two identical edges directly on top of one another.

When Non-Manifold geometry is found in a model, 3D printers will have issues reading the file.

In this example, two cubes have one edge in common. Non-Manifold geometry exists because one edge is shared by four faces.

It helps to be aware of this when you are 3D Modeling. In case Non-Manifold geometry is present in your 3D model, you can explore Repairing your 3D file in Netfabb.

The two cubes in this example have one edge in common, so this edge is shared by four faces creating Non-Manifold geometry.

3. Review the Material Design Guidelines

Based on the unique production process and physical traits of every material, we've created a series of Material Design Guidelines

Key guidelines to keep in mind are the maximum and minimum dimensions or what we call bounding box, required thickness, and the needed escape hole diameter. You can learn more about escape holes in our Creating Hollow Objects Tutorial


While modeling for 3D Printing is quite different from 3D modeling for renders, by keeping in mind these key design tips you'll be that much closer to printing a successful 3D file.

Get started now by Uploading Your 3D File!

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us or reach out to our community in our forums.

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