Many people wonder whether you can 3D print without infill to save filament or for another design reason. This article will answer that question, as well as some other useful information.
Can You 3D Print Without Infill?
Yes, you can 3D print without infill by changing your infill percentage to 0% or by printing in vase mode using the “Spiralize Outer Contour” setting in Cura. It’s recommended to increase your wall thickness to above 1.2mm after doing this to increase the strength of the model. Not all models can print without infill.
For example, if an object doesn’t have a gradual slope that allows it to print without needing support underneath, it can be difficult to 3D print it without infill. You may be able to use supports that can be broken off afterwards, but the foundation could be too weak to hold up.
For 3D models that have a large flat surface at the top or something similar, it will require infill or support to be able to 3D print.
A lot of people create models with either very little infill of below 10% or even no infill for non-functional objects like small decorative pieces, presentation prototypes, display models, or other objects that don’t have a pressure/load on them.
Some users believe that the strength of a 3D print only depends on the infill which is a completely wrong assumption because many other factors also play major roles.
The thickness of the outer shell or wall and the orientation of 3D models while printing also contribute to making 3D print strong.
There’s a phenomenon in 3D printing called bridging, which is when your 3D printer can extrude material in midair between two points without needing anything underneath.
If your 3D printer is efficient with bridging and the model doesn’t need a significantly large bridge, you can 3D print without infill, though this depends on the geometry of the full model.
3D printing without infill can save users plenty of time as well. One user who sliced a model saw that it would take a whole day to 3D print, but after decreasing the infill to 0%, the estimated time was cut in half.
How to 3D Print With No Infill
To 3D print with no infill you should increase the wall thickness of your model, decrease the printing speed, improve your cooling settings, and increase the top/bottom thickness settings. Some 3D models are specially designed to be 3D printed without needing supports or infill, so finding these are useful.
One user said that instead of 3D printing with no infill, he uses a low percentage of 7%. For some models where 0% infill wouldn’t work, it makes sense to go with a small infill density.
Check out the video below by Technivorous 3D Printing that shows how to 3D print with no infill.
An alternative to 3D printing with 0% infill is to use Vase Mode or the Spiralize Outer Contour setting in Cura as it may reduce your printing time even more. Do keep in mind that you can either print in vase mode or increase the number of walls because both these factors cannot be combined.
One user said he wanted to build an action figure that’s hollow so he could run LED lights through it which is a really cool concept.
While 3D printing with 0% infill, it could be a good idea to slow the printing speed down and try decreasing the temperature so the filament doesn’t sag.
Some people recommend to actually increase the temperature to improve layer adhesion, so it could be worth trying both to see what gives better results.
The most important aspect for bridging is getting good cooling, so having a good cooling fan duct and upgraded cooling fans can improve results.
Check out this unique 3D print that is only 1% infill.
A user that purchased an Ender 3 said the first thing he 3D printed was a Farscape Moya model with no infill and the print came out just fine. 0% infill can be great for creating small figurine models that will only be used as display models.
Check out the video by 3D Printing Nerd who 3D printed Pikachu models of different sizes with no infill, but still with good strength. You can save a lot of time and material if you can get this right.
An interesting thing that one user did was to increase his Wall Flow Rate to 115% with no infill. He then drilled holes in the bottom of the model and inserted epoxy to fill up the inside of the model to make it solid.
He opted for this method as it provides strength while reducing the print time to a certain extent. Also, this method has worked for him many times while bringing efficient 3D prints.
The specific epoxy used was the J-B Weld Pro Size ClearWeld 5 Minute Set Epoxy from Amazon.
ClearWeld Epoxy has a PSI strength of 4,400 and it can form a strong bond with almost any kind of surface including 3D printed models.
The epoxy takes about 5 minutes to set and cures within an hour. It comes in two parts mentioned as “Part A Resin” and “Part B Hardener” with the suggested 1:1 mixing ratio of epoxy resin and hardener.
One user said that Clear Weld is efficient as you can get back to your other activities within 30-45 minutes. However, it is recommended to act quickly because, with a temperature of 60°F (16°C) in his garage, the epoxy takes about 8 minutes to dry and becomes unworkable.
How Do You 3D Print Only Infill?
To 3D print only infill on a model, you want to make a block of your desired size, then set the infill pattern you want to create, as well as a Wall Thickness of 0, and a Top and Bottom Thickness of 0. You can then Preview your model to see how it will 3D print to ensure it looks how you want it.
You can use this 20mm Cube model from Thingiverse and scale it in your slicer.
Here’s an example of the Gyroid pattern at a 10% infill density in Cura’s preview using the 20mm cube scaled at 300% in the X & Y axis.
Here’s the printed model.
Many infill patterns out there don’t actually connect the walls, so choosing an infill pattern like Cubic that connects the walls would work better. If the walls don’t connect, it might be worth adding a wall to the print through the Wall Line Count setting.
Another setting you want to look at is the “Connect Infill Lines” setting which needs to be unchecked. It is off by default so unless you’ve changed it yourself in the past, it should be fine.
It can be a good idea to use a Raft underneath your model if you are experiencing bed adhesion issues.
One user said he 3D printed a separate Gyroid infill by using zero perimeters and zero top & bottom layers using PrusaSlicer and it came out perfectly.