Thursday, August 2, 2012

Saving Filament While Keeping Strength

Earlier, we posted an article about creating a rack to hold Cube cartridges.

Cube Rack - Initial Design

One of the design goals was to reduce the amount of filament required to print the rack.  The design worked very well.  But, it wasn't quite as strong as it could be.  So, a second design goal was added... maximum strength.

We came up with two more designs for the Cube Rack that met the need for saving filament using holes in the rack and yet also met the criteria for maximum strength.

The first design used holes similar to those of design #1.  But, this time the holes where shorter and arranged in an offset pattern that provided more lateral support.

New Rack Design #1 - Offset Holes

The design not only worked beautifully; but, ended up being very strong and pleasing.  Here is the printed version of the above design.  I printed both of the new racks on my RapMan 3.2 because I'd loaned my Cube 3D Printer to Peyton Duncan.  And, that is why the raft is evident.  On the Cube, I would print this without a raft for a cleaner look.  Neither printer requires supports for any of the rack designs.

New Rack #1 - Printed Version

So, now that we demonstrated that we can reduce filament and keep strength, it was time to try to reduce filament even more.  That gave me the opportunity to test a completely different approach.  Instead of cutting holes completely through the wall, this time the design used a lattice of holes that only went half way through the wall adjacent to an offset pattern of holes on the other half of the wall.

New Rack Design #2 - Lattice

This design allowed for larger holes while still meeting the strength design criteria.  Plus, it turned out to be a very pleasing look.  Here is the printed version.

New Rack #3 - Printed Version

The secret to the strength lies in the fact that each hole is supported both laterally and vertically by the wall of an offset hole.  This lattice design is surprisingly strong and probably saves the most filament.  Overall, it is my preferred design.

Here is a video that explains the process using Moment of Inspiration...

All of the designs will be up on the Cubify Store site at the minimum allowable cost.

Word of Warning

Both of the new designs print with increased noise and time.  The printer must print small features and then jump over the hole to the next small feature.  This means that it's not laying down a nice continuous layer of filament.  So, you may want to print them in a area where the noise won't affect others.  It's well worth the extra noise and slight additional time.  But, it's something that you need to consider when choosing which design you will download.



  1. Thank you for the blog. great job...

    Do you see 3D Systems introduce a new printer anytime soon?

    1. They are a very private company when it comes to plans. So, I have no idea what they might be planning for the future. But, I'm glad to have you up here!

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