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I'm working on a project using 3D printed parts, everything is working very nicely except for one part that needs a 3 mm x 1.2 mm diameter rod. I can print with PLA/PLA+ but such a thin object doesn't seem viable for 3D printing. Is it still possible or am I better off using a 1.2 mm metal dowel?

The bigger part (5 mm x 7 mm diameter) near the back isn't an issue, it's the small rod that I can't seem to print correctly

Part

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2 Answers 2

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It would be impossible to print this standing with the rod straight up, and even if you got it to print the part would be very weak due to the thin cross-section of the rod aligning with the layers.

The only way to print this part and get a usable result is to print it in the orientation shown in the picture, with the rod part being horizontal. Because the layers will now have a much larger cross-sectional area, this not only makes the print much stronger but also prevents issues with the plastic not cooling off sufficiently between layers. Though this will still be a tricky print, because now you'll need lots of support material.

Using a metal rod is probably the better option. Another option is printing the rod lying flat on the bed, and gluing it in place later. This would avoid the issue with support material.

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    $\begingroup$ "Horizontal" I think is what you mean instead of "vertical". Could print the rod on the bed, with enough extra length to glue into a hole in the thicker part -- or use an extruded or molded part, as suggested. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Feb 11 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon Thanks! $\endgroup$ Feb 11 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ I've actually gotten something like this to print vertically before, but it's tricky. The outer wall width has to be equal to the diameter, and retract at layer change has to be off, and Cura will basically print it as a single extrusion line in the Z direction. Naturally your cooling has to be really good and your extrusion needs to be tuned (pressure advance, etc.) such that it doesn't ooze or over-extrude. $\endgroup$ Feb 11 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ Yea I think I’ll just use a metal part then, 3d printing such a thin part seems like too big of a hassle for something prone to breaking $\endgroup$
    – chewies
    Feb 13 at 4:39
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If you insist on printing it entirely, I would suggest cutting the model in two halves through the centerline, printing them flat and gluing both parts together after printing. This will make sure the axial direction of the rod is in the XY plane, and doesn't require support.

However, the beauty of 3D printing is that it can be easily combined with other materials and techniques. In this case, you are far better off by printing the big cylinder with a hole in it and glueing a metal rod in. It is less trouble, stronger and possibly more functional since it will have a much better surface finish.

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