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New Matter Blog: How to Format Your Own Models for the MOD-t

Last Updated: Mar 22, 2016 04:10PM PDT

Printing your own designs using the MOD-t can be an exhilarating experience. Seeing something you’ve created appear layer by layer is very rewarding, but it’s only possible if your design’s size, angles, and orientation are compatible with the MOD-t.

Here are some aspects of design that could greatly affect the overall “printability” of your work.

1) Size

Part of what makes the MOD-t great for homes, schools, and businesses is its lightweight, compact size. Designers should take heed of this space-saving design when sizing their models. The overall MOD-t printing envelope is 150mm x 100mm x 125 mm. You can set your file-viewing program to these specifications to test your design sizing before sending your .stl or .obj file to print. (Get our Cura profile information and learn more about using Cura with the MOD-t in this How-To blog post.)

How-to format designs for the MOD-t.
Can print: Dino Stapler. Cannot print: Dinosaur to-scale.

2) Angles

Overhangs, bridges, and other tricky angles can greatly affect print success. The MOD-t can handle angles, but when angles become too severe, the quality of your print will suffer. The MOD-t handles angles up to 45 degrees with ease and can still successfully print parts with angles of up to 60 degrees. Including angles any steeper than 60 degrees could be detrimental to your print, but you can add removable supports to help stabilize your print.

How-to format designs for the MOD-t.
The Hatched Egg Cup prints with supports for both the tricky overhang and bridge between the “legs.”

Similarly, a long or large bridge between two points in a design will fail without supports. Small gaps are manageable, but wider gaps should be treated like a 90 degree angle.

Think of it this way: Your print builds one layer at a time, like a layer cake with nice, thin layers. You can gradually build up curves and slight angles by adding differently shaped layers of cake, but if you try to build a sharp angle or add a layer in an area without support, your cake will collapse.

3) Orientation

Properly orienting your model is a vital step in the design process. Successful prints start with a flat base and build up in a way that creates gentle angles and easy bridges. A large flat base is more likely to succeed than a small base and a design with too small of a base could topple or fail to adhere.

It’s also important to consider details and lettering on the first layer. If details could be compromised because of build plate adhesion, orient the design so that the side with the most details does not face down.

For example, the Toothbrush Travel Buddy is printed at the angle shown below:

How-to format designs for the MOD-t.

While this orientation creates a larger bridge, it’s still short enough for the MOD-t to handle. The Toothbrush Travel Buddy’s facial expression is not touching the build plate, allowing the details to print clearly. The internal toothbrush guard is supported by the base layer and prints vertically without issue.

How-to format designs for the MOD-t.
Toothbrush Travel Buddy is ready for an adventure!

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