Saturday, January 17, 2015

Considerations for Embossing 3D Printed Vertical Surfaces

As mentioned in a previous blog article, no topic has generated more email messages than questions about how to wrap text and logos around things like personalized mugs and holders for the small LED votive candles.

Now that we have the ability to print in two colors the demand for wanting to print these kinds of objects should dramatically increase.  But, in doing so, there are some realities we need to consider.

Gravity is more foe than friend

Embossing, by its very nature means that we are cutting away material.  And if we aren't careful this can leave design features that are essentially outcroppings or overhangs.

To print cleanly, overhangs must be minimized.  

While an FDM 3D printer, like the Cube,  might be able to print some of these features, it cannot be assumed that it will do so cleanly.  Gravity is always pulling down on our filament flow and drooping is not pretty. If we are trying to print in mid-air, things might not go as we'd hoped.

We have to keep this in mind when we cut into the vertical side of an object and try to minimize outcroppings and overhangs.

Angles can be either friend or foe

Obviously, a 3D printer has no problem printing straight features as long as there is something under those features.  It can be the print bed or a previous layer of print.  And, it doesn't require a straight vertical match for the previous layer to help support a new layer.

This means that we can use angles to our advantage when embossing!

Here is a short video that discusses why.  There is no sound with this video:

The CHAMFER technique is usually simple on most objects.  But, it gets tricky when it comes to TEXT.  Some fonts handle it well; but, others do not... particularly script fonts with complex curves and thin features.  For these it is often best to use an embedded techniue with no overhangs or outcroppings.  Printed in two colors, the effect is essentially the same.

But, we'll leave using FLOW for EMBEDDING text to a future video. As always, I hope these video are useful in your quest for beautifully clean prints.

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