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Does the Orientation of a Part Matter in 3D Printing?

Hello Machine Bros!
Today we want to start by asking the following questions that you probably have or have had at some point, does the orientation of a part matter in 3D printing? What are the advantages of having a correct orientation and how to select it?

You will find the answer to these questions in the conclusions, but before getting there, there are things you should know, so let’s get started!

How Does Orientation Affect the 3D Printing Time?

This factor is simple to understand, the higher a part is, the longer it will take to 3D print it, so if you are looking to reduce printing times, it is advisable that you try to orient the part in such a way that it is not so extensive in the direction of the Z-axis.

In the following example, it can be seen that the left “Y” would take 2 hours and 20 minutes, instead, the right “Y ”would take 31 minutes.

Difference between 3D printing times when orienting a model in different ways
Difference between 3D printing times when orienting a model in different ways

How Does Orientation Affect the Placement of Supports in 3D Printing?

In our Advanced Guide of Simplify3D, we explain this topic and many others in detail. We recommend that you check it out if you want to learn very interesting things about setting up 3D prints and their supports in Simplify3D.

Depending on how the model is located on the print bed, we may require or not supports.

Let’s look at a simple example, the letter “T”. We have 2 ways to print this letter, orienting it in such a way that we do not need supports, let’s see these examples below.

Use of supports according to the orientation of the model
Use of supports according to the orientation of the model

In this case, the third way to orient the model is the best, since it does not require supports, and it would also be the fastest to 3D print.

How Does Orientation Affect the Level of Detail in 3D Printing?

This is another important issue to consider. Depending on how we orient the model, details of the 3D model may be lost.

Generally, in the direction of the Z-axis, more details are preserved, because we can print at a layer height as low as 0.1mm, or even less, depending on the 3D printer and the nozzle you use.

It must also be considered that in the direction of the X and Y-axis, we could improve the level of detail by using nozzles smaller than the standard 0.4mm diameter.

This can be seen in small pieces with small details.

In the following examples, you will understand it better.

Horizontally oriented piece where the details of the holes are lost (in the Gcode). - 0.1mm layer height and 0.4mm nozzle.
Horizontally-oriented piece where the details of the holes are lost (in the Gcode). – 0.1mm layer height and 0.4mm nozzle.

When orienting the model horizontally, the details of the holes are lost because the nozzle is 0.4mm, therefore, the slicer generates a Gcode where it ends up joining the holes, thus forming a single large hole.

Vertically oriented piece, where the details of the holes are preserved. (0.1mm layer height and 0.4mm nozzle)
Vertically oriented piece, where the details of the holes are preserved. (0.1mm layer height and 0.4mm nozzle)

By orienting the model vertically, the details of the holes are preserved, because the layer height is set to 0.1mm, therefore, the Slicer generates a Gcode where the holes do not join.

Everything mentioned previously in this section does not apply to SLA 3D printing. Well, with SLA you can get a better print resolution.

How Does Orientation Affect Mechanical Resistance in 3D Printing?

In the following video we show you that 3D printed pieces are more resistant in the direction of the X-axis, and the Y-axis, this because in the direction of the Z-axis, the mechanical resistance depends on the adhesion force between layers.

Everything mentioned previously in this section does not apply to SLA 3D printing. Well, 3D printing by SLA is equally resistant in all directions, this because the printing by SLA is isotropic and the printing by FDM is anisotropic.

Conclusions on the Orientation of Parts in 3D Printing

By now, you probably already have the answers to the questions we asked at the beginning of the article, if not, as we promised, we leave you the respective answers below.

  • Does the orientation of a part matter in 3D printing? Yes, it matters a lot, this is evidenced in the article.
  • What are the advantages of having a correct orientation and how to select it? Well, by orienting the part correctly, 3D printing time can be reduced, fewer supports are needed, or even a more mechanically resistant part can be obtained.

If you are starting out in 3D printing, or are already familiar with it, these two articles can be very useful:

  • Advanced Guide of Simplify3D for all those who are looking to overcome the barriers and limitations that Slicers can offer and get to 3D print spectacular models.

Any questions you have, do not hesitate to leave them in our comments section, as well as any contribution or suggestion you wish to make, we are here to grow together in this wonderful world of 3D printing.

Greetings.

See you soon Machine Bros!

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