When 3D printing, you can sometimes run into issues trying to work with extremely thin features. Most of the time, good design practices can help to fix these issues. Two GrabCAD tools, the Thick and Thin Wall command and the Variable Width Fill command aid in resolving these issues more efficiently, leaving you with a sturdy, high-quality design.
In this video, Application Engineer Ricky Shannon demonstrates just how to utilize these built-in tools on a multi-bodied SOLIDWORKS part using a straight 3D CAD file.
Thick and Thin Wall Command and Variable Width Fill Command
The Thick and Thin Wall command not only allows for an easier design process, but it creates a stronger model and pattern. The tool thickens up the contours of the 3D model to allow better visibility when altering the model. The variable width command changes the way that the machine extrudes within the borders of the contours. This is how the machine behaves with the thickness of the extrusion that it uses for filling in between contours. These commands come in handy when working with tapered walls, allowing you to tweak the thickness of the raster extrusion and leaving you with a much stronger and solid feature.
Using the Slice preview tool, at first glance both parts look very similar, each having wall perimeter on the outside. When you are 3D printing with two contours, the first one will thicken up until it’s thick enough to have two contours. In this scenario, if we’re really trying to have something as accurate as possible to the CAD model, by printing with the thick and thin tool, we expand upon that geometry and have a stronger pattern as a result. The thick and thin wall feature is going to favor the contours of the entire slice, so it’s all one continuous contour. It will only print what’s best for the contour and slice, so it might leave a feature out to fit the entire contour.
Use Variable Width Fill Command:
This command changes the way that the machine extrudes within the borders of the contours. It also has to do with how the machine behaves with the thickness of the extrusion that it uses for filling in between contours. When this feature is turned on while the 3D printer is printing, it decides it can print a very thick portion and taper that off as it goes, leaving a much stronger and solid feature.
Using these two tools you can improve strength and quality of thin features. If you’re not too worried about the geometry changing a little bit, then using the thick and thin wall command is a great option for printing something that has been scaled down. Something with tapers or has gaps between very thin contours, using the variable fill feature is great to get in there and add strength to those areas.
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