3D printing can do many things but people wonder whether you can 3D print a dome or sphere without supports. This article will answer that question, as well as other related questions.
Keep on reading for the details on how to do this properly.
Can You 3D Print a Sphere Without Support?
Yes, you can 3D print a sphere without supports by splitting the sphere into two halves, then joining them together afterwards, simply by gluing it. You can split the model by editing it in a CAD software, or simply by lowering the sphere into the bed by half of its height, then duplicating it for the second half.
You can use a software like TinkerCAD to create a sphere from the “Shapes” menu within the program.
It’s difficult to 3D print a really good sphere without supports, especially because of the nature of 3D printing. You would be able to 3D print a good sphere with resin 3D printing rather than filament 3D printing since you can get finer layers.
Below is a great example of this.
One user gave some tips for 3D printing spheres:
- Slow the print speed down
- Use a lot of cooling
- Use supports with dense top layers
- Print the supports on a raft
- Optimize your printing temperature
- Have thinner layers at the top and bottom (0.1mm), then thicker through the middle (0.2mm)
He mentioned that it’s possible to 3D print spheres without supports, but it’s better to accept some minor damage from support removal, unless you 3D print with a dual extruder and dissolvable supports.
Here is a video by “Lithophane Maker” about 3D printing a Moon Lithophane Lamp on a CR-10S. The model is a sphere with a bottom stand. There is an open weave to insert the light bulb, once it is printed.
An example of 3D printing a sphere is this 3D printed Pokéball from Thingiverse. You can see more in the video below.
How to 3D Print a Dome
To 3D print a dome, you want to keep the flat side down on the bed, while the round side will be built on top. For big domes, you may need to slice them in half and then glue them together once they are printed.
Below are some examples of domes that you can 3D print:
Below are some examples of Domes, or Spheres that are made by combining two domes (hemispheres) together. You may try printing one to see how it goes.
- Pokéball (made suing two domes, hinge, and a button)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Infinity Orb
- Star Wars BB-8 (two hollow domes joined together)
- Flexible Mini Greenhouse Dome with Pot
- Droid Dome – R2D2
- Geodesic Dome Cat House Bed Parts
There is a standard rule in 3D printing that you can print overhangs as long as it doesn’t exceed the 45° mark.
Printing at this angle ensures that each layer has 50% contact with the previous layer that supports the new layer to build on. With this rule, printing domes is quite easy.
Below are some tips that can help you out in tackling the overhangs while printing domes:
- Increase the cooling fan speed
- Decrease your printing temperature
- Decrease printing speed
- Reduce layer height
- Add a chamfer (a straight 45° wall) at the inside of the dome to offer support
- Tune up your 3D printer
One user said that he has 3D printed a 20″ dome for his R2-D2 model with 10% infill, 4-5 walls and no support. Decreasing your print speed, lowering the printing temperature, and using vase mode can give you great results.
Take a look at the video by John Salt about R2-D2 dome printing and its complete assembly.
Here is another short video by Emil Johansson showing a dome print with large and adaptive layer height.
Can You 3D Print a Hollow Sphere?
You can 3D print a hollow sphere but you’ll need to add supports to the base of the sphere. The other good way is to print a sphere in two halves or hemispheres. To make a larger sphere, you could even do it in quarters.
A user suggested printing a hollow sphere by putting settings as 0% infill, along with adding brims, supports, while tweaking outer wall thickness as well.
Another user said that no print can be printed in the air so you need to add support at least at the initial layers or base section to get appropriate results.
However, printing in two halves will be great as both parts will be printed on their flat base. You can join them together in post-processing using glue.