Eliminating Internal Edges and Faces in 3D Files

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To achieve flawless 3D printing, follow these steps before printing any model with small intricacies that you want to maintain in the print.

1: Due to 3D design software's somewhat obscure method for creating faces, some edges and faces of your 3D model can actually be "inside out". Before exporting your model to a .3ds, .skp, or .stl file, you should select your entire model, right click, and select "Align Faces" or "Flip Faces". This aligns all faces and edges so that they are facing the same way, eliminating any instances of inside-out faces and allowing the following steps to run smoother.

2: Save your 3D model to your computer as either a .stl, .skp, or .3ds file.

3: Upload your 3D model to the Materialise Cloud website.

4: This software will first convert your file to STL format and then give you the option to "repair STL". Select this option.

5: After allowing the program to run, click the button to download the repaired 3D file. It will be in a format accepted by CURA so all you have to do is load the repaired file to your printing software and proceed with the normal 3D printing procedure.

While the presence of internal faces and/or edges will not ruin most prints, if you are working on a model with very exact clearances/tolerances, then running through the process described above will give you the cleanest print possible.

We also found that it was a helpful practice to print a first version of all of our models in 1/6 scale. This reduced print time from 16 hours to 45 minutes and enabled us to see if there were any errors in the print code. It also prevented us from using lots of filament on a possibly flawed model that would need to be redone.