Infill is a pain, there’s no way around it. It’s a necessary evil; if you want an object to print successfully, you’re going to want at least a little bit of infill, and likely a lot if you’re trying to print something sturdy. More infill is going to slow your print job down quite a bit, though; I’ve made the error of using too little just because I was impatient. In addition, you’re using a lot of extra filament to create a more solid object, and that adds up fast in terms of cost.
MakerBot has come up with a compromise. The 3D printer manufacturer specializes in unique infill patterns, and while Sharkfill and Catfill are great, their new infill pattern serves a real purpose. MinFill is short for “minimum infill” and is based on a newly developed algorithm that determines the very least amount of interior support needed for each individual print. It’s not going to be the best option for every print – if you want a durable or heavy object, you’re still going to need to opt for heavier infill. But when print speed and surface quality are your priorities, MinFill is much more efficient than standard infill settings, according to MakerBot.
“Unlike other slicer features aimed at optimizing infill usage, MinFill adapts to each model’s geometry and interprets exactly how much support it needs and where without any user intervention or tinkering required,” MakerBot Public Relations Manager Josh Snider explained to 3DPrint.com. “Further, it’s faster than printing typical patterned infill at very low percentages or with variable layer height.”
MakerBot’s testing showed that prints using MinFill were typically about 30% faster, and used 30% less filament, than prints with standard infill. Prints with a lot of volume, like spheres, printed as much as 80% faster. The greater the internal volume, the greater the cost and time savings, the company states, and illustrates the concept in the graph below:
The key to MinFill is that it’s not uniform. Most infill is wasteful by nature; once you decide on a pattern and density, that pattern and density will be printed throughout the entire interior of the part, even the areas that don’t necessarily need infill at all. MinFill automatically determines where infill is needed, and leaves the other areas of the print alone, generating the smallest internal support structures possible – no matter how complex the print.
While any maker can benefit from faster printing and less material waste, MinFill is especially geared towards professionals who are printing a large number of concept models or prototypes for form studies. A form study only requires that the print be sturdy enough to hold gently; its purpose is to be visually evaluated, so speed is much more important than sturdiness. MakerBot decided to test the new setting by printing two batches of five objects of varying complexity: one batch with MinFill and the other with the standard 10% diamond infill found in MakerBot Balanced Print Mode. When the experiment was complete, they found that they had saved a total of four days by using MinFill.
“MinFill is great example of how continual slicer and software innovations can dramatically improve the performance and longevity of our printers, well after they’re sold,” Snider told us. “Imagine having a computer or phone that actually becomes faster and more efficient over time, rather than slowly dulling into planned obsolescence.”
MinFill is compatible with the MakerBot Replicator+, Replicator 5th Gen, and Replicator Z18. Learn more below:
Discuss in the MinFill forum at 3DPB.com.[Source/Images: MakerBot]