GrabCAD Print: Optimizing Your 3D Print Job

Article by Eissa Ahmad updated February 27, 2018

GrabCAD Print is a versatile software that allows for seamless and effortless transfer of 3D models from the modelling environment to the printer. GrabCAD is easy to use and doesn’t take much time getting used to. The video above gives a brief overview of the entire process of preparing your part for 3D printing. There are, however, a few important factors that can help you get the most optimized print, both in build time and material usage.

Orientation and Position

The process of 3D printing involves slicing a 3D object into horizontal layers. The slice data is then sent to the 3D printer, which then prints those layers at a certain thickness. It’s important to understand this to get your print to look and act a certain way. Holes, curves, and angled edges can look and feel very different when they are printed in a different orientation, as shown in the image below.

Grab CAD orientation and Position

Example of vertical hole print vs. horizontal hole print.

Of course, if you have holes on every face of a three-dimensional object, there won’t be one master orientation that will make all the holes perfectly round. Material and support sacrifices will have to be made no matter what.

Solid vs. Sparse

Almost all 3D printers have the capability of changing the amount of infill material for an object, or infill density. There are two common types of infill densities: solid and sparse.

Each layer of this print is filled with material.

A solid print job means the whole part will be filled with material, no air gaps. Inevitably, more material will be used, and the final object will be heavier. Solid prints are stronger and can naturally hold more weight and endure more tension. These are good for high-strength applications, such as mounting, supporting, holding, or leveraging. Solid prints are also ideal for accepting fastening screws, as there’s more material for the screws to dig into.

Sparse Prints

Sparse prints are cost-effective, as they use less overall material. Instead of the object being filled to the brim with material, the printer dramatically decreases the density of infill, allowing for more air gaps in the print. Sparse prints are used mostly for prototyping and demonstrations, but in some cases, they are used for practical applications. Low-density components are favoured in situations when overall mass is a major constraint (ex. Vehicle components).

GrabCAD Print Slice Preview

The main body of the shuttle will be mostly air, but because the engine nozzles on the side are so small, they will remain solid.

Keeping these factors in mind, you can maintain the same strength and features of your part while saving material and print time.

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Eissa Ahmad

Eissa is an Additive Manufacturing Intern Applications Engineer at Javelin Technologies. Studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Automation Engineering Technology at McMaster University.