How Do You Design Parts for 3D Printing?

3D printing has revolutionized the way complex parts and components are designed, providing the means to create parts with intricate shapes that would be difficult or impossible to manufacture using traditional machining methods. 3D printing also offers a high degree of flexibility, allowing designers to quickly iterate and test different designs without having to commit resources to costly physical prototypes. But while 3D printing is an excellent tool for prototyping, it is important that the part design is optimized for 3D printing in order to get the best results.

Designing For 3D Printing

The first step when designing a part for 3D printing is to understand the type of printer and materials you are working with. Different printers use different technologies and materials, so it’s important that your design works within their capabilities.

It’s also important to think about how the part will be printed – what orientation it will be in, which way up it will be printed, etc. This can have an impact on both the strength of the part and its surface finish.

Design Guidelines

The next step is to consider some design guidelines specific to 3D printing. These vary depending on the technology being used but generally include: avoiding sharp internal corners; ensuring walls are thick enough; adding chamfers or fillets where necessary; designing for support structures where appropriate; avoiding bridging or overhangs; ensuring adequate clearance between moving parts; avoiding long unsupported spans; ensuring draft angles are sufficient for removal from molds.

Finite Element Analysis

Once you have applied these design guidelines it is advisable to perform a finite element analysis (FEA) of your model in order to confirm its structural integrity. This involves running a simulation of how your part will react under various loads and stresses, allowing you identify any weak points or potential failure points before committing resources to physical prototyping.


Designing parts for 3D printing requires a thorough understanding of both the technology being used and the specific requirements of that technology. It is important that all design guidelines specific to 3D printing are followed in order to get optimal results, and a finite element analysis should always be performed before committing resources to physical prototyping.

In conclusion, designing parts for 3D printing requires careful consideration of both printer capabilities as well as specific design guidelines in order for optimal results. This process can be greatly simplified by performing finite element analysis on models prior to physical prototyping in order ensure structural integrity.