Iterative design for 3D printing

Imagine you want to design a two part box (base and lid) to hold a deck of cards.

One approach would be to design the box, add any 3D decorations (label, texturing, etc.), then print everything and hope it all fits. If you know your printer and material well enough (e.g. tolerances, shrinkage), then this can work well.

Another approach is to use iterative design and printing. Instead of doing one print, you do multiple designs and prints:

  1. Design the basic base of the box–no decorations
  2. Print the base at a low fill percentage. Test that the cards fit. Pick up and hold the base to see how it feels in your hand.
  3. Make any changes from the tests in #2, then loop until you’re happy with the base
  4. Add any decorations and reprint at the desired fill percentage
  5. Design the basic shape for the lid
  6. Test print and check the fit with the base. Check the overall feel.
  7. Make any changes from #6 and loop until the design works
  8. Add decorations to the lid and do a final print

Iterative design like this can help you discover designs and features you might not have come up with if you did one big design up front.

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