Design rules for metal parts in 3D printing

While products and their parts had to be designed for manufacturability in the past, 3D printing brings unlimited possibilities to the designer. The starting point no longer needs to be the way the product is manufactured, but rather, what the product or part is intended to be and do.

It all starts with planning 🖊

While plastic is a more familiar material, metal 3D printing can raise more questions. Often the questions are related to the durability and quality of the parts. Now is the time to update the perception of industrial 3D printing and evolve the durability of parts to the right level. 3D printing can be used to produce parts that would be difficult, impossible or very expensive to machine. Metal 3D prints are final production parts that are fully ready for use – not just prototypes. The quality and durability of 3D printed metal parts are trusted in industries such as aerospace, pharmaceuticals and automotive. With 3D printing, parts previously manufactured separately can be integrated to reduce the number of components needed. This has been done successfully in the automotive industry, for example.

On this page we have compiled a set of design rules for metal parts.

wall thickness

Wall thickness

Regardless of printing orientation 1.0 mm is recommended minimum wall thickness. For vertical walls, minimum of 0,4 mm can be used.

hole and channel size

Hole and channel size

Minimum of 1 mm hole diameter is required for holes with any orientation. With smaller holes please discuss more with our engineers. Minimum hole size for vertically aligned holes is 0,4 mm. Horizontally aligned holes need to be bigger than 1 mm.

support structure

Support structures

Metal 3D-prints require support-structures that anchor the parts to the build plate. Typically overhangs steeper than 45 ° require supports. Support structures are usually created by our engineers.

Embossed and engraved details

Embossed and engraved details

To ensure that embossed and engraved details are visible and functionally valid use at least 0,3 mm depth/height.

teksti

Text

Identification numbers and information is sensible and cost-effective to integrate into parts as texts and symbols. For recognizable font use length 2mm and depth/height 0,5 mm as minimum (font size 14). Rectangular styled fonts are the most repeatable.

tolerances

Tolerances

Tolerances are dependend on material, printing orientation and part size. Generally ±0.2 % (±0.1 – 0.2 mm for 100 mm). For tighter tolerances, please contact our engineers.

clearance

Clearance

Recommended clearance for fitting parts is 0,25 mm.

machining allowance

Machining allowances

For surfaces that need to machined, a 0,5 mm machining allowance is recommended.

product size

Product size

Max build volume is 250 mm x 250 mm x 300 mm.

threads

Threads

Threads are usually machined into the part to ensure proper function of threads. For very small threads (e.g. M2) it is advised to use inserts. Especially for hard to machine materials like Ti64 and MS1.

fillets

Good practice

It’s recommended to use fillets / chamfers to avoid stress concentrations, especially in the inside corners.

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