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[Almost done] 3D print space ship carrier - Learning to 3D print correctly

polycounter lvl 10
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Robert Berrier polycounter lvl 10

Hi all,

Slowly I am doing more and more 3D print work for others, either pro or hobby. Mostly relying on others on how to do things that work for a PLA printer. Since a week ago I started my own 3D print model to really dive into what it takes to make a good 3D printable model for PLA printers. I want to share the progress and learnings of it here.

Goals & details:

  • PLA print
  • 0.4mm nozzle size (0.2mm for extra details)
  • Trying to aim for a minimum wall size of 1.2mm (0.4mm x 3)
  • For micro details I will try to aim for 0.4mm minimal size. 0.6mm or 0.8mm preferred.
  • Breaking up the model into pieces so no print support is needed. 45 degree angle.
  • Max ship size is 20cm long. 15cm is preferred to reduce printing time. Will adjust depending on detail needs.
  • Using MODO & Cura software.

Learnings and problems so far:
  • Fitting a 3D shape into another 3D shape needs a margin of 0.2mm (half of the nozzle size)
  • Elephant foot is an artifact where the first layer on the 3D print bed will be a little wider then everything above it. Meaning you will get seams there. Hiding these seams would be best. But I am running into issues where I don't know how to hide them and be able to print without support structures.
  • 0.4mm nozzle size on a 15 to 20cm space ship is actually still rough. I wish I could put in more details. Some shapes like the windows are "just" doable. 0.2mm nozzle is preferred.
  • The 3D print software (slicer) CURA. Has an amazing preview mode where it shows how it will print all the layers. It also shows if you will need support or not. Amazing tool to test your 3D print models.


  • Robert Berrier
  • Robert Berrier
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    Robert Berrier polycounter lvl 10
    Owkey. This beast is now fully ready for the first PLA test print.
    Have learned so much about how to make assets for PLA 3D printing.

    Each piece is currently:
    - Support free (meaning all overhang angles are no more than 45 degree)
    - All meshes are closed
    - Enough wiggle room for the piece that need to be glued together (half the size of the nozzle, in this case 0.2mm)
    - Shapes are big enough for a 0.4 nozzle to be printed. Meaning you are limited in the amount of details.

    I am currently on the edge of what the 0.4 nozzle can do. So the first test print will have to show if it is print able, and still readable.

    Will report back with photo's of the print. Which sadly might take awhile. Since the printer is on a schedule.

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