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3D Printing

3D printing has fast become the more popular tool for fabrication. Whether you are prototyping a design, printing custom mounting plates, custom fittings or simply having fun, 3D printing is a reliable and cost effective solution.

We have a series of both DIY and professional 3D printers. Our preferred method for functional parts is FDM or SLS printing in nylon. For more robust models there is also the option to have your 3D print in steel, alumide or ceramics, however we do not print these in-house.

Plastic PLA (Red)

Plastic wire PLA Red

Plastic PLA (Yellow)

Plastic wire PLA Yellow

Plastic PLA (Blue)

Plastic wire PLA Blue

Designing items to be 3d printed is a very rewarding experience, to see your design go from concept to drawing to real life.  We would suggest getting your own 3d printer so you can experiment through trial and error and learn how to design 3d objects for printing.

That being said we do offer printing services to those who are new to the 3D world, need prints for projects or models they are working on, or anyone who just needs something in 3D.


When printing 3D objects there will be many cases in which a new layer will cover a gap or a cavity formed by previous layers. This process is calling bridging.

Most of the time a 3D printer extrudes the material over relatively small gaps and no supports will be needed during the process.  However you should always make sure that the distances that you are working with are small enough for the printer to be able to bridge a gap. Depending on the size of the gap, the material, the temperature and the volume extruded, a bead may sag in the gap. Some sagging is actually acceptable (depending on the design) as it would still provide enough support for the layers above it.

Below there are two examples of the same screw head on a different scale. At this point the printer is about to start the threaded piece.

  • As you can see the gap in figure 2 is far too large to be bridged properly and would end up looking something like the red bridge in figure 3. It has lost all support and has fallen under its own weight while it was still molten as it left the extruder.
  • The screw head in figure 1 has a small enough gap to be bridged over without any support below it. In figure 3 you can see what a successful bridge might look like. The yellow bridge is slightly bowed but the next few layers will become straight because they would be supported.

3d bridge samples


These are separate layers of extrusions done alongside the print to be able to support over hanging parts. Unlike powder printers and SLA printers FDM printers extrude in mid-air and don’t have material to naturally support them.

When it comes to supports there are three main approaches you can take:

- Let the printing program do them.

  • Programs like Cura and slic3r have settings for supports that will automatically create low density layers of material under overhanging parts. For simple designs this might be the quickest and easiest solution however for more complex designs with harder to get to places it might not be ideal.


- Design them into the drawing yourself.

  • This might be a more time consuming process but depending on the design it might be more desirable. For example if only one or two sections of the design actually need supports, it would be a waste of time and material to build them all around the object.


- Don’t use them.

  • Depending on how harsh the angle of the design is you can actually get away with leaving it print without supports as there will be enough material from the previous layer to support the new one.


- In the example above you can see a simple 3D curve.

  • The area in green shows where you can print an overhang without risk of damaging or ruining the print. There is a slightly angle but is still well supported.
  • The yellow area can still be printed, however because of the steeper angle and less support small blemishes and less accurate printing may occur as the horizontal distance between the ends of the layers increases (as shown in figure 2). Supports are not necessarily needed however using them will give better results.
  • The Red area has almost no support from the layers below it and will almost definitely cause problems with material falling and general deformation of the print. It is highly recommended to use supports in this situation.

These figures show the boundaries of the printers. It is suggested that a 5mm offset is used to guarantee the object will fit.3L4A08992-800x80090100_1__29002.1460174246.1280

Our MakeBlock Elephant 3D printer has a build volume of 180mm x 200mm x 160mm (WxDXH)

Our MakeBlock Giraffe 3D printer has a circular bed of 180mm diameter and has a build height of 300mm.

Ideally designs are made to be slightly smaller than the work volume to ensure that it will all fit in.
If an object is too large to fit in the work volume, it can be designed in parts made to be fitted together.

3D Printing Showcase

Please submit your work or design here.