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So you’ve got the concept model and a 3D printer that prints buttery smooth prints. But how much time do you have to tweak it to get the right clearance when working with assemblies or sliding components?

This can be a grueling process or a glorious process. But, it depends on the approach you take and the info you’re armed with. We’re talking best practices here. We’re going to take a look at a few of the ones that make our CAD geometries tingle, and show you where to find the others.

(What’s that? Don’t want to wait? Go grab the guide here.)

Optimize the Flip Out of Your Design

There are a few things you need to lock down to achieve a successful, usable 3D print. SLA prints give you the most versatility and the highest level of quality and detail, so we’ll focus on this 3D print method. First, let’s get the must-have, pre-prep out of the way. COFFEE. Snag it. Down it. Let’s get busy.

Dial in that Tolerance

If there’s one thing that will kill your new design vibes, it’s when the tolerances are all out of whack. The value of tolerance in 3D printing in huge. Spend a few extra moments dialing in the tolerance. What does this look like? Consider the application, the fit, the function, and make sure your tolerance zones don’t overlap surfaces that are meant to move against each other.


Moving parts? You need lubrication. Even for parts that snap, connect or hook together a little dab of the right lubricant can go a long way, whether it’s in presenting a functional concept or delivering a production part. If you’ve wondered about what works best, I can’t recommend silicone lubricants enough. Great for SLA prints, plus you can turn just about anything into a slide. Bonus.

Machining Printed Parts

I know what you’re thinking. Machining 3D prints? Really? Why machine them if I can print them? If you’ve post-processed any 3D printed part though, this doesn’t seem so crazy. And more than likely, you’ve used a bit of sandpaper on 3D printed parts to dial in that tolerance like an angry carpenter. Obviously, your print material will affect what type of machining operation you can use. Sanding may work best for flexible material, while milling/tapping may be applicable to tough/durable material.

There’s much more that can be said about each one of these and more best practices you’ll want to ensure are considered throughout the product development process of your next awesome product. The Engineering Fit guide (produced by the fellas at Formlabs) takes a look at these best practices and, best of all, this guide has test models to download so you can run your own analysis.

Download Guide