Jan 10, 2019

3D Printing Wall Thickness – What to Consider for a Perfect Print

Adjusting shell thickness is an easy way to optimize the durability of your 3D print. Too much and you increase print time and cost, while too little renders your model unprintable. Follow our checklist to point yourself in the right direction!

3D Printing Wall Thickness Why Are Shells Important?

Sheet metal has to be exactly ordered in traditional manufacturing. Source: Handy Steel Stocks

In manufacturing, you always want to use as little material as possible, or just as much as you need. This saves money, time, and meets specifications. Ideally, you should already begin considering such factors at the drawing board. Then you can order the right amount of material to fit the job at hand.

This goes for 3D printing, as well. The added luxury is that you can decide the material thickness of your project’s walls, top, and bottom when you prepare the 3D print file for your 3D printer.

That being said, there are a few things to think about to get the shell thickness right.

3D Printing Wall Thickness Shell Checklist

Layer thickness settings in Simplify 3D. Source: Simplify 3D

Here are some handy points to remember when deciding how to size your walls:

  • Shell thickness: A good starting point is around 2 mm, but aim for a multiple of your nozzle width. Note that different slicers use different names for the walls. They could be called shells, perimeters, vertical shells, outer shells, sides, or loops.
  • Top and bottom layers: The 3D printed object usually looks best when using a multiple of your chosen layer height for the top and bottom layers. Typical numbers are anywhere between 5 and 7 layers.
  • Top and bottom layer overlap: Often, there’s an overlap setting for the top and bottom layers. Use it to let the top and bottom print a bit into the walls for added connection and stability.
  • Print order: Ensure that outer walls are printed first for better dimensional accuracy. (This comes at the cost of decreased overhang quality.)

To expand your options for 3D printing finer details or for printing bigger models faster, try investigating different nozzle sizes.

License: The text of "3D Printing Wall Thickness – What to Consider for a Perfect Print" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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