• Tel.: +1 (905) 728.6962
  • Toll Free: +1 (800) 298.6437


World of 3D Printing

Whats New!


Ask an Expert

When it comes to 3D printing we've got the experience and know-how to help you get the most out of this cutting-edge technology.

We've provided some questions you may have on the right to guide you in getting the answers you seek.

We've got answers Fill out the brief form on the right and we'll get back to you within 48 hours or call us at
(905) 728-6962 or

Questions you may want answered

  • What is 3D printing?
  • Which 3D Printer is right for me?
  • Additve Manufacturing Applications, how can I benefit?
  • Which 3D printing process is right for me?
  • What are Rapid Prototyping Services?
  • What design services does Cimetrix provide?
  • How can my company optimize our production workflow?

Ask a Cimetrix Solutions expert

Jul 8

Tech Tuesdays: Part Orientation

The staff at Cimetrix is pleased to announce Tech Tuesdays, a weekly blog post that will highlight some of the best techniques and practices, in order for you to get more out of the additive manufacturing process! This week we'll be taking a look at part orientation, and how utilizing different orientations for the same part can alter the properties of the model you are creating.

Figure 1: Model containing critical features relying on part orientation for strength and function

Part Orientation For Model Strength
By orienting a part properly, part strength can be improved; small features can become stronger by simply rotating the part, and functional parts have more functionality when oriented properly. For example, the hinges and a latch on the part shown in Figure 1 would have had limited strength if not orientated properly.

The orientation in Figure 2 has limited strength in the current position. By slicing the part in this position, we can see that the areas around the latch and hinge become small surfaces (Figure 3) and will not provide enough strength. Furthermore, the slicing of the model is in the direction of the flex point of the latch and hinge, creating a weak point in the model that may fail when function is tested.

Figure 3

Figure 2

Figure 5

Figure 4

By rotating the model 90 degrees (Figure 4), we achieve an orientation that provides much better part strength. When the model is sliced there is more surface area around the latch and hinge areas. There will not be any flexing in the direction of the slicing, thus a stronger, more functional model.

The hinge and latch will also have more surface area, as seen in Figure 5, and are now part of a larger slice. Furthermore, the hinge and latch is not flexing in the slice direction; this build orientation will provide a stronger, more functional model.

Part Orientation For Build Speed
Part Orientation can affect support usage and build speed of the part. Rotating a part to a different orientation can decrease support usage and the build time of a part.

Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 9

Figure 8

First Orientation
Step 1: Rotate the part in the x-axis, with the bosses down, and process the part, as seen in Figure 6.

Step 2: The part has been sliced, supports added, and toolpaths created (Figure 7). The estimated build time for this part is 5 hours and 32 minutes, using 2.58 cubic inches of support material.

Second Orientation
Step 1: Rotate the part in the x-axis, with the bosses up, and re-process the part, as seen in Figure 8.

Step 2: The part has been sliced, supports added, and toolpaths created (Figure 9). The estimated build time for this part is 3 hours and 53 minutes, using 1.10 cubic inches of support material.

As we can see, build time and support usage can be greatly affected by the build orientation. In this instance, changing the orientation on the part, has decreased the build time by 1 hour 26 minutes, and support usage decreased by 1.48 cubic inches.

Part Orientation For Smooth Surface Finish
When orientating a part, consideration must be given to surface finish. This is due to the process of slicing the part in increments. Better surface finishes will be achieved by building the surface in the xy plane. Any surface built in the z-axis will be stepped. If the part was built as orientated in Figure 10, there would be a poor surface finish along the angled surface.

Figure 10

Figure 11

Figure 12

Figure 13

Step 1: Slice the part. As seen in Figure 11, stepping is visible along the topmost, angled surface in this orientation. If printed, this portion of the part would have a rough surface.

Step 2: Rotate the part around the X-Axis (Figure 12)

Step 3: Process the file again; notice that the angled surface is now being in the x-y plane. Since the contours of the part can be followed by the print head, this will produce a smooth surface finish.
As part size and complexity increases, orientation becomes more and more important; whether the goal is too attain fastest possible print time, the strongest features, or the smoothest possible surface finishes, selecting the correct build orientation is critical for meeting these goals. However, certain orientations will prove more useful than others, and many times a certain orientation will provide the best possible surface finish, whilst also creating a part that is durable and fast to print. Utilizing the correct build orientation is one way to gain immediate improvements in part quality, letting you take advantage of all that additive manufacturing has to offer. For more, visit us at www.cimetrixsolutions.com

- Cimetrix Staff