Can I 3D print with infill?

Can you print with infill in large format 3D printing? We explain the difference in desktop fdm 3D printing and large format printing strategies.

Using Infill in large format 3D printing: Challenges and Considerations

In the world of 3D printing, infill structures play a crucial role in optimizing the weight, strength, and print speed of objects. However, when it comes to Large Format 3D printing technology, the story around infill structures is different. In this article, we explore the intricacies of using infill in LFAM and why it differs from desktop 3D printing.

- The Unique Nature of large format 3D printing:

Large format 3D printing technology, which is designed for printing large scale objects, operates differently from desktop 3D printers. One notable distinction is that single-parameter walls in large format 3D printing often provide the necessary stiffness and strength required for end applications. This inherent strength reduces the reliance on infill structures.

- The Importance of Heat Management:

Large format 3D printing places a significant emphasis on heat management, as mentioned earlier. In the 3D printing process, creating an infill structure increases the toolpath length of a layer. This extended toolpath can pose challenges, as it increases the likelihood that the pellet extruder output may not match the required output for a layer and thus has to print the layer slower than needed, letting the layer temperature drop below its optimal temperature. Consequently, this can lead to a reduction in the strength of the printed part.

- Manual Design Complexity:

As of now, designing infill structures for large format 3D printing often requires a manual approach. This manual design process can result in increased design time and added complexity to the manufacturing process. Unlike desktop 3D printing, where infill patterns can be easily generated through software, Large format 3D printing infill structures demand a more hands-on design approach.

- Void Considerations:

Another critical factor to consider is the size of voids created by starting and stopping layers in Large format 3D printing. In desktop 3D printing, the layer width is typically small, rendering these voids negligible. However, in Large format 3D printing, where larger layer widths are employed, these voids grow proportionally. This growth can have a negative impact on the strength of the printed part.

- Mitigating Void Issues:

To address the challenge of voids in Large format 3D printing, infill structures are typically designed in the form of a double-parameter wall with a continuous toolpath. This approach reduces the use of start-stop motions, minimizing the creation of unwanted voids and maintaining the overall strength of the printed object.

In conclusion, while desktop 3D printing often relies on infill structures for various optimization purposes, Large format 3D printing technology presents unique challenges. Large format 3D printing focus on heat management and the potential impact of extended toolpaths on part strength necessitate a more manual and thoughtful approach to infill design. By understanding these intricacies, manufacturers can harness the power of large format 3D printing for large-scale production while ensuring the integrity and quality of their 3D printed parts.