Design Tips

This is a page of design tips written by MakerBot Operators for anyone who is designing things to be printed out on a 3d printer, such as a Makerbot. Feel free to add your tips and best practices!


  • Post your designs to Thingiverse and share the love. Always upload your source files! People will make amazing things with your work or ideas!
  • Make your design parametric and modular whenever practicable. You'll thank yourself later.
  • The orientation in which a thing is used may not be the best orientation for it to print.
  • Use the metric system, like the rest of the world.
  • If you need part of an object to be strong while the rest prints quickly, try hollowing parts of it out.


Generally round places where material isn't

  • When designing holes, try making them a polygon such as a hexagon or octogon unless you really need them to be round. Remember that you can drill or screw them out later!
  • For small holes, try using the "incomplete polygon" technique to prevent strings and blobbing. Take a small (0.1mm) slice from the side of the hole to the edge of the piece. The sides will still smoosh together, but the print head will be better behaved. See here and here


When there isn't something beneath you

  • In general, you can print with a 45 degree overhang angle without support material for straight edges, and much more for circular edges.
  • You can bridge short distances without support, but success will vary based on material, print speed, temperature and the phase of the moon.
  • Design for no support: 45 degree rule


A CAD tool from Google, free as in beer

  • Sketchup can have problems dealing with small dimensions in the millimeter range. Try scaling everything up by 1000, and then downscale it ReplicatorG by 0.001.
  • You can find a list of useful Sketchup plugins on MakerBlock's blog post.
  • Sketchup isn't really a 3D modeling program, so it doesn't check to make sure the objects you make are solid or warn you when the faces of your object are inside-out. If you right click on a face and "Reverse face" you will see the face toggle between a darker shade and a lighter shade. You want the lighter shade. One of the above Sketchup plugins will check whether the object is "manifold" (or designed to be water/air tight).
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.