3D Printing Shells – All You Need to Know

Slicers are software platforms that convert CAD data into g-code, i.e. instructions that your 3D printer can understand. That said, files can not only be converted but also changed and modified through various settings. Here, we will use the Cura slicer as an example of how to change these settings.

Adjusting the Settings

In the picture, you can see the auxiliary line in blue, which is printed around the outside of the print, the shells in red, and the top and bottom layers in yellow.

To change these settings in your slicer, click on the “Custom” button in the upper right corner. The two main settings that will affect your print are the wall thickness and the top/bottom layer thickness. For both of these, the thickness to keep in mind is 1.2 mm.

Here are some guidelines for thicknesses of walls as well as top and bottom layers:

  • >1.2 mm will result in sturdier models with more balance. However, models with very thick walls and/or top/bottom layers can affect the final design of the model.

Example: How to 3D Print a Vase

A model that does a great job of demonstrating the use of the above settings is a vase.

A vase should be stable, but not too thick. To achieve this, set the wall thickness to a value between 0.8 mm and 1.35 mm and the top/bottom thickness to between 1.00 mm and 1.35 mm. The range of the top/bottom thickness is smaller than the wall thickness because the bottom must have a certain layer thickness to ensure a stable stand.

To better see this change in thickness, click on the dropdown menu “Solid View” in the upper right corner and switch to “Layer View”. Here you will see the model layer by layer and you can see where changes are possible and what effect they have. Using this layer view, you can easily and individually customize your models, depending on which settings suit your prints.

Feature image source: duncan916 / Thingiverse

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