3D printing and materials: 3D model printed in pla on Ultimaker, collection of commercial jewellery in dyed polyamide, a collection of models 3D printed in coloured paper on an MCor printer), brooch and pins 3D printed in multicolour polymer, a collection of models 3D printed in multicoloured sandstone, ring design 3D printed in titanium.
3D printing and materials: pla on Ultimaker, dyed polyamide, coloured paper (MCor), multicolour polymer,

Anarkik3dDesign is optimised for 3D printing

3D printing is an increasingly easy and affordable way to create your own 3D objects. Designer makers, sculptors and other applied artists are realising their visions by creating virtual models and having them 3D printed in an array of materials, including ceramics, paper, metal and plastic.

You can choose to create very complex objects – for example, you can create a ‘ball in a cage’ or linked parts. Objects can be printed in one or many colours, or dyed after printing. Some printers also offer a range of finishes, such as matte or glossy.

There are many different technologies being used to 3D print objects. Each technology has different strengths and weaknesses and uses different materials. Most techniques involve printing your model in layers, adding one ‘slice’ on top of the previous layer until the model is finished.

3D printing is particularly great for prototyping and testing out your models before printing them in more expensive materials.

Prototyping with an Ulltimaker2 desktop 3D printer
Prototyping with an Ulltimaker2 desktop 3D printer

3D Printing constraints

There are general considerations when designing for 3D printing.

Remember, to 3D print successfully you have to have a good, watertight 3D model. Not all CAD and 3D modelling programmes make this easy to achieve! So check your programme out or switch to Anarkik3DDesign.

Anarkik3D’s workshops on designing with Anarkik3DDesign haptic 3D modelling programme include information about designing for 3D printing. At all our workshops we have 3D printed samples and objects in a range of materials from paper to titanium to handle.

Visit Anarkik3D’s Shop for information about workshops.

Practicalities of 3D printing

If you have a specific material in mind, please check the latest information on the professional 3D printing services websites. The technology is improving all the time.

  • Check the size of your model before printing. The virtual environment can be misleading and your model might be tiny or gigantic.
  • 3D printing is costed by volume. A solid cube will cost more than a hollow cube, as the hollow cube requires less material to make.
  • It is easier to use software, such as Anarkik3DDesign, which has been designed for 3D printing.
  • Certain 3D file formats such as .stl, .obj, .wrl are required to print 3D models.
  • If some of your parts overhang others, these parts may need supports to allow them to be printed by ‘extrusion’. These can then be easily snapped off.
  • If you want your model to be hollow, you may need to create an opening at the bottom for excess material to drain out as this will be printed in polyamide powder.
  • Ensure your digital model does not have surfaces that are just surfaces, or ‘one-sided’ surfaces not possible in real life as these cannot be printed. You can check your model using free applications such as Netfabb, Meshlab and Magics, although they cannot repair it for you.
  • The level of detail in your printed model will depend on the resolution of the printer type and the material used.
  • Models will 3D print using certain technologies and materials but not others. If you have a certain material in mind, please visit the websites of the service companies for the latest design guidelines. For example:
    • For articulated parts the use of materials such as polyamide is recommended. Have a gap of 0.5 mm between the surfaces of the two parts for movement to work correctly.
    • The minimum thickness of your model’s parts will depend on the strength required and on the material you use.
    • In standard plastic (polyamide), a wall thickness of 0.8 mm is both reasonably strong and slightly flexible.
3D printing options
  • Build your own desktop 3D printer from a kit: http://reprap.org/
  • Ready-made desktop 3D printer (Anarkik3D has an Ultimaker2)
  • Join a local group with access to a 3D printer (e.g. your local Fablab)
  • Upload your model to a professional 3D printing service (i.e. i.materialise, Shapeways, Sculpteo, Oceanz, etc) and get a quote. They offer additional services such as:
    • Repairing models that are not quite suitable for 3D printing
    • Adding supports to your model for overhanging parts
    • Casting into precious metals
    • Polishing
  • Bureau: If your model is complex and requires other processes such as mould-making and casting, it may be better to go to a bureau (i.e. Digits2Widgets) where you will get comprehensive support. Although these might seem to be more expensive, they will help you get your model right first time.
  • 3D print companies’ websites: imaterialise, Oceanz, Shapeways, Sculpteo, 3DPrintUK, Additive.xyz, etc..



Please note that Anarkik3D has no control over your dealings with third party services. If you experience any problems whilst uploading or when you receive your 3D printed model, please contact the 3D print company directly.

3D printing materials

3D printing processes

3D printing FAQ