Design to Manufacture Series: FDM 3D Printed Snowflake

   By Eric Bryant on December 9, 2022

Design to manufacture is a series of projects showcasing the talents of our SOLIDWORKS and Hardware experts, as they team up to execute 3D printing part design and production. In tandem, they brainstorm part geometry, 3D model the part in SOLIDWORKS, and utilize our in-house Stratasys machines and GrabCAD Print to create the final 3D printed part.  In this case, the team has decided to create a 3D printed snowflake. 

In this article we’ll be highlighting Stratasys FDM printing on the new F370CR. Paired up as teammates, Eric Bryant and Jake Ifft chose to create a fun 3D printed holiday ornament giveaway using ABS White filament. They created an easy to print part file that is optimized for the printing speed on FDM technology and measurable in GrabCAD Print times. 

3D Printing Design Process

Jake began by drawing the boundary that he wanted everything to fit inside. From there he drew the snowflake body shape with a hexagon extrude, added cuts and arms with a circular pattern, and then modeled a small piece to add on. Jake then made configurations to have only one of each part showing, for use in an assembly file, copying and pasting the sketches to make the multiple instances of the small arm piece. Once that was completed, he connected all the parts with a thin extrude feature from drawn in connecting lines.  

hexagon extrusion in Solidworks for holiday ornament design

Flat line drawn extrusions in Solidworks for holiday ornament design

The TriMech snowflake files are a great example of designing with intent. The flat pack layout results in the reduction of print times. With FDM printing the same geometry oriented to be taller in the Z direction results in a time penalty. This is due to the extrusion head path and each layer being laid one by one. If we compare the print times of printing the assembled version vs a flat pack parts version, we find the following time information. 

GrabCAD Print Time Comparisons 

Utilizing GrabCAD Print software to prepare the model to print we found that the flat packed snowflake model results in a 59-minute print time. 

FDM Snowflake in GrabCAD flat

For the assembled Snowflake model GrabCAD Print times show us a 1-hour 20-minute print time. That means the flat pack option takes 73% of the time to print compared to the assembled version! 21 minutes may not look like much of a difference, but it can add up for large quantity batch prints. The benefits show themselves more apparently with a build tray full of parts as seen below. 

FDM 3D printed Snowflake in GrabCAD Assembled

On a Stratasys F370CR, ten of the flat pack models can fit on a build tray with a print time of 9 hours and 20 minutes. With ten of the assembled versions on the same F370CR we see a print time of 11 hours and 19 minutes.


GrabCAD print time comparison for FDM


Get your TriMech snowflake!

This 3D printed snowflake was a fun project to demonstrate what can be achieved when you design with the end deliverable in mind. The goal was to have a fun, good looking, and fast printing part as a giveaway, which was achieved by leveraging the technology’s strengths of higher print speeds when the Z axis height is minimized. If you are interested in learning more about SOLIDWORKS or Stratasys 3D printers or GrabCAD Print software, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local TriMech rep.

Related Products
Stratasys 3D Printers

Browse the TriMech web store for Stratasys 3D Printers for rapid prototyping and short-run production manufacturing.

Eric Bryant

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