extruded text on flat surface


Pretty new to all this. Wondering how you would approach this problem to have an extruded element on top of a flat surface. I want to avoid lots of support material (actually no support at all for a cleaner print and no work with sanding etc.) I intend to print this inverted in Z (i.e. text down) for the main structure.

My only idea would be to print it separately and then glue it on. But maybe there is another solution that comes to your mind?


  • $\begingroup$ Do you have a preference for the program used to edit/create the part with the text? Also please consider to note the operating system you use. $\endgroup$ – fred_dot_u Aug 27 '18 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ This is irrelevant for this general question. $\endgroup$ – MiCROLABS Aug 27 '18 at 19:02
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    $\begingroup$ if the two "legs" joined in the middle you wouldn't need supports to print as shown, since a 45deg overhang is fine. if not, then you need to support the letters, which is cheap, or the whole platform, which is easy. $\endgroup$ – dandavis Aug 27 '18 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ Your question should be edited to include the comment you made on mbmcavoy's answer. As it stands it's not really clear what you're asking..."How to add the text to the digital model?" or "How can I combine these after printing both?" but your question is really "I want to print this with the text facing down, how is this best done?". $\endgroup$ – tjb1 Aug 28 '18 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ You are right! Sorry! $\endgroup$ – MiCROLABS Aug 29 '18 at 8:38

Let's assume a general case where the base object has to be printed "face down" for reasons of overhang, strength, or anything.

My recommendation, and it's largely one of personal style, is to modify the face surface to have a couple mounting holes in it. Then, in whatever CAD or Mesh software you're using, add mating pegs to the backside of the lettering. (This is easier if you can include a thin "base layer" or connectors so the text is a single object). Then print the base object "face down," print the text "face up", add glue and insert pins into holes.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I figured this would be the best option! Thanks for the input! $\endgroup$ – MiCROLABS Aug 29 '18 at 8:40

welcome to 3DPrinting.

To make this easier to talk about, let me call the surface on which you want to print the letters the "tabletop".

Looking at your picture, let me guess that you would print the object with the tabletop down. Then everything prints naturally, with no bridging and no overhangs.

You want to put text on the tabletop. This could be done by using support material to lift the bed up to the text height, or, in the converse, by using support material to permit the entire object to be printed with the tabletop up. I can't see enough detail in your drawing to know if the object is printable with the tabletop up without using support material, so I will assume that it is not.

In your drawing, the lettering is a different color from the table. I'll assume that this is not your intention, and you want the entire object with the text to be printed with one material.

I have solved this in two ways in different cases.

In one case, I wanted extruded letters printed on a vertical surface. I surrounded the letters with a 45 degree draft so that the overhang was printable. This won't help you here unless the object is printable on the side.

In another case, I changed my design to have letters engraved rather than extruded. That prints well against the bed, with no overhang issues, and only short bridging required.

Engraved letters are readable, like extruded letters, and can be printed against the bed.

  • $\begingroup$ I think this is probably a better answer than mine. Based on the question, I assumed the object was just an example, and the text would be on the top surface as printed. But given that object without the text, it would make sense to print it upside-down, and with text that won't work... $\endgroup$ – mbmcavoy Aug 27 '18 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ I would also agree that the "table" does not appear to be printable right-side up without supports. While I don't know the design intent, I would personally modify the design to increase the bed contact, and minimize the bridging needed. Try printing things that push your printers capabilities, and learn what it can and cannot do! $\endgroup$ – mbmcavoy Aug 27 '18 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Good input. I will make some tests according to your tips! $\endgroup$ – MiCROLABS Aug 28 '18 at 1:04

Supporting the text while printing should simply not be a problem, if printed in the orientation shown. The text, as per your description and shown in the illustration is extruded vertically and there is no overhang. No support should be needed at all.

A few notes:

The bottom (dark grey) portion of your object does have a significant overhang, and may need some support depending on the specific shape. But support for that should not be near the text or affect it.

Text can be tricky to print with high quality if the width is not much bigger than your nozzle size. This is not specific to text, but rather feature size, slicer settings, and printer/filament capabilities. Experimentation is your friend - print it, and then address any quality problems that you find.

If you want the text to be a different color (as in your illustration), you might be in luck. There is a technique to pause the printer at desired layer height, swap out the filament, and resume printing. Your shape would lend itself to this technique. It's not too hard, but the specifics do depend on the software and printer you are using. There are quite a few good writeups on various 3D printing sites. If you want to ask about this, please ask another question, with this information.

  • $\begingroup$ sorry I flipped the whole thing to show you the text - of course I printed it the other way around with the flat side down to not have tons of overhangs and which is why I am here asking. $\endgroup$ – MiCROLABS Aug 28 '18 at 1:06

One way that I have solved that issue is by model it in openscad and embed the letters in the surface. then with my dual headed printer, print the letters in a different color. No support material is needed in that case.


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