Apologies, I'm a EE designer and software guy. We've been CNC'ing prototypes, and my office just bought a very cheap 3D printer.

I'm using Cura as recomended, and wanted to print a piece that has features on both sides.

Here is a screenshot of each side.

So if you laid one side flat, you see how there is a subtractive portion underneath it?

Is there a way to 3D print an object like this, and keep the details on each side?enter image description here

UPDATE I copied some Cura settings from guys and basically tipped this thing to a 45 degree. Here are the results. Pretty good! The finish has some zits and pops, but the surface details are quite accurate enough to fit a PCB board in there with confidence.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Which printer are you using? $\endgroup$
    – Onno
    Sep 28, 2017 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ if you wanna have well aligned diagonal (inclined) printings try to use meshmixer to position and support your shape $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2017 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ That's great news! $\endgroup$
    – Mick
    Sep 29, 2017 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have enough rep to post up more more pictures of the other side. But seriously I'm pretty impressed. I could definitely see why you would want the dual extruder and a water soluble filament. I may try another run with a smaller layer height. I get the engineering on the printer so I kind of understood to go seek out good settings from someone who has printed on this thing... $\endgroup$
    – Leroy105
    Sep 29, 2017 at 15:33
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    $\begingroup$ WOWSA. Those are not toy prices for SLA printers! Thanks for the heads up. Clearly I don't know much about these things. I have used Fictiv for some TPU prints of gaskets, and I asked about this part as a print. They also recommended an SLA as a print for an object like this. I might be more inclined to send it out for an SLA print, since we don't do a ton of mechanical work. But, who doesn't want cooler toys? Consider my mind blown though, that is a $200 3D printer, with one hour of setup, and 30 minutes of Cura tutorials -- pretty half decent... $\endgroup$
    – Leroy105
    Sep 29, 2017 at 15:42

2 Answers 2


I haven't tried printing anything like that, but one trick is to print the piece at an angle of 45°, so as to minimise the number of surfaces that are horizontal (or near horizontal.) You will still need some supports, but far less than if you just plonked it flat on the build plate. My only other recommendation would be to use a slicer that allows you to define custom supports, such as Simplify 3D or CraftWare (but still print the piece at an angle).

You might even be able to print it on a raft/brim with no supports. I've seen other 3D'ers pull this off.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I'll check on that. It's kind of a complex object. $\endgroup$
    – Leroy105
    Sep 28, 2017 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Leroy105, you should also use a small layer height since that will improve the overlap when printing overhangs (0.4x0.1 has twice the overhang of 0.4x0.2). Also check if your printer Z steps are multiples of 0.1 or 0.04 (so 0.08 or 0.12 will outperform 0.1). The printer documentation probably won't actually detail this correctly. $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2017 at 12:14

You can print it laying flat on the bed with supports. It will be very laborious to clean up, but it will probably work. supports usually are thin enough to strip away, but they leave marks which you need to cut off to get a clean result.

You can also buy a printer with dual extruders and then use dissolvable supports. That would probably be easier to clean up and provide a cleaner result.

If you're using PLA to print, you might get away with turning up the part cooling fan to the maximum level and hope for the best. Overhangs are very much prone to dropping though. I'm not sure if a stock MP Select mini will get the job done. You might want to consider an upgrade to the part cooling fan. You can look for fan duct related upgrades which allow you to mount bigger fans on Thingiverse

With PETG you can possibly get away with longer overhangs, as it cools quicker. However, PETG is much harder to print well, as it's much more prone to stringing, which can cause issues like artifacts and clogging.

All in all I'd start out with getting a good benchy before you start on engineering projects. This will make sure that you have your printer calibrated to perform for your chosen filament. Every brand and type has their own quirks and differences, so you'll have to fine tune your settings to get the best result.

A CNC-like finish will not be easy to achieve. A CNC type finish will be unachievable without extensive post processing if you're using supports. In any case, getting a good finish requires some practice with finding the right settings for your filament.

Learn how to print and to get your printer dialled in to achieve the required result, which, in the case of it having to be CNC-like, is quite high-end. The fact you're laying down filament means that you'll be able to see lines, even at top quality. Maybe this guide will help you get on your way.

Getting a $1000 printer mainly inproves reliability of the print. The quality of the print is in the skill of dialling in the right settings in your slicer for a given filament choice, plus recognising the type of supports necessary. This takes practice to achieve.

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    $\begingroup$ I've got a super cheap baby 3D printer. We paid over $1200 for CNC models of this piece. I tried the 45 degree with supports. I'll try it raised with supports as a flat piece. I get how those work now. $\endgroup$
    – Leroy105
    Sep 28, 2017 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ I'm asking for the model in a comment on your question to determine the printer's capabilities. Super cheap isn't very helpful in this regard. There's super cheap printers like the Anet A8 which can be upgraded if you're willing to mod them. There's not so cheap printers which are less capable than that A8 is out of the box. Does it have a part cooling fan? Does it have a heated bed? Does it have a bowden or direct drive extruder? $\endgroup$
    – Onno
    Sep 28, 2017 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ Monoprice 3d mini, heated bed. No idea on how extruder. This thing is a toy. We can upgrade, but i wanted to see what 200 bucks vs 1000 bucks gets you. Usually we need a cnc type finish, but for small parts maybe we can get by with a cheap thing $\endgroup$
    – Leroy105
    Sep 28, 2017 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah I don't think we can get a CNC finish on a 3D printer... I should send out this piece now to a reputable shop and see how well their end result looks for their $50 quote. Honestly, I'm pretty impressed with the result with this toy 3D printer. I mostly turned the thing at a 45 degree angle, and let the slicer calculate the supports. $\endgroup$
    – Leroy105
    Sep 29, 2017 at 15:01

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