What is the Strongest Infill Pattern in 3D Printing?
In 3D printing, creating a strong part often compromises other factors such as material consumption and printing time. A good way to strike balance is to use infill patterns – internal structures that deliberately some porosity to a 3D printed part.
If strength is the most important characteristic for your project, then a honeycomb pattern is probably your best bet for providing omnidirectional strength. There are a few other noteworthy options and factors to consider, especially if you want to optimize your 3D printing process. How can you customize an infill pattern to get the most out of your 3D printed project?
What is an infill pattern in 3D printing?
If you have ever seen a 3D printed product, then there’s a good chance that it has a pretty well-hidden trait – it’s mostly hollow inside! Through the use of infill patterns, 3D printed parts can be designed with a highly controlled degree of porosity. This makes 3D printing a much more economical manufacturing method by reducing the amount of material that goes into the product. It also reduces the weight of the finished part and the time it takes for the actual printing process.
However, a seemingly solid 3D printed part isn’t completely empty inside, either. Inside the part’s outer walls (or shell ) is an interior structure that gives the part some degree of mechanical strength. The physical appearance of this interior structure is what is referred to as the “infill pattern.” The pattern can be tweaked as well with different density values.
What are the strongest infill patterns?
3D printing technology has matured a lot in the last several years, allowing for options to customize a print according to strength, flexibility, weight, and printing time. The wide range of infill patterns has contributed greatly to this degree of customization.
If you want strength to be the main focus of your 3D printed part, then here some of the best options for infill patterns:
Patterned after the natural honeycomb structure, this infill offers the best strength-to-weight ratio. While other infill patterns rival or surpass the honeycomb pattern in terms of sheer strength, a honeycomb infill is preferred by many because of how little material it consumes. For this reason, a lot of parts used in aircraft and space travel use honeycomb interior structures.
A nice benefit of a honeycomb infill pattern is that its strength is equal in any direction. This is ideal if you cannot afford to have a part with a prominent weak point.
However, the honeycomb pattern is not the best in terms of printing time despite the relatively low amount of material needed. FDM printers, in particular, can take a long time to print a honeycomb infill because of how much the print head needs to move for a single layer. SLA and SLS printers are less affected by this limitation.