About Prototyping Plastic

Prototyping plastics, printed on FDM printers, are ideal for designers and engineers to cost-effectively produce and test a design. Rapid low cost prototyping allows for more design iterations resulting in greater control over the design process and improved end products. Furthermore, products can be brought to market faster. Prototyping plastics are best suited for fit or form checks but are also suitable for printing functional parts such as enclosures and custom piping.

Example parts

Prototyping Plastic

Strengths

  • Rapid turnaround time
  • Inexpensive
  • Form and fit prototyping

Limitations

Design rules to remember when printing with Prototyping Plastic

SLS design rule: Embossed and engraved details

Embossed and engraved details

1 MM ON TOP AND BOTTOM, 2 MM ON VERTICAL WALLS

For embossed and engraved details, we recommend a minimum line thickness of 1 mm and a depth of 1 mm on the top and bottom of the design, and 2mm on vertical walls.

Tip: if you are putting text on your design, use a bold sans-serif font for readability, such as Arial Bold.

SLS design rule: Minimum detail size

Minimum detail size

0.8 MM

In order to create visible details with General Purpose Plastics, your model will need to have at least 0.8 mm details.

SLS design rule: Minimum feature size

Minimum feature size

2 MM (OR 1 MM IF CONNECTED ON BOTH SIDE)

The minimum feature size for printing with General Purpose Plastics is 2 mm. If your feature is a thin wire connected on both sides, you can go slightly thinner to 1 mm, otherwise we recommend at least 2 mm thickness.

SLS design rule: Moving or interlocking parts

Moving or interlocking parts

0.5 MM CLEARANCE BETWEEN PARTS

A powerful feature of General Purpose Plastics is that you can have moving or interlocking parts printed in one go. In order for the parts to come loose you need to keep a 0.5 mm clearance.

SLS design rule: Overhangs and supports

Overhangs and supports

Because each layer needs to build off the last, angles of more than 45 degrees generally require supports to be printed along with the design. Supports are not inherently detrimental for your design, but they do add complexity to the printing process and lead to less smooth finish on overhanging parts.

Tip: if your model is complex or has intricate details, we recommend using different materials.

SLS design rule: Wall thickness

Wall thickness

2 MM (OR 1 MM IF SUPPORTED)

The model's wall must be thick enough to support the model. We recommend working with a minimum wall thickness of 1 mm when the wall is connected to other walls on two or more sides, and 2 mm if it’s only connected one side.

Prototyping Plastics are printed using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) uses a string of solid material (filament), pushing it through a heated nozzle and melting it in the process. The printer continuously moves this nozzle around, laying down the melted material at a precise location, where it instantly cools down and solidifies. This placed string then builds up the model layer by layer.

FDM is the most common 3D printing method today and is used by the majority of desktop 3D printers. It is ideal for quick and low-cost prototyping as well as a wide variety of applications. Materials include various plastics in a rainbow of colors such as ABS, PLA, nylon and even more exotic material blends including carbon, bronze or wood.

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