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FDM: Cutting costs with the Self-Supporting Angle

3D printing gives you the opportunity to produce complex and intricate geometries. However, there are a few tips and tricks that can save you tons of money or help you produce stronger and more aesthetically pleasing products.

On a daily basis we adjust clients parts to better suit them for 3D printing. Today we would like to make you familiar with Trick #1 in our Optimization-For-FDM-book: the Self-Supporting Angle. Besides producing cleaner part surfaces, we’ve seen cases where costs are cut by 80%!

So, what’s the Self-Supporting Angle?

Technologies like FDM require a structure to support overhanging features found in the build direction (z-axis). If these overhangs can be built in an angle of 45 degrees measured to the z-axis, tool paths can be ‘stacked’. This eliminates the need of a structure to support the feature. Saving both support material and building time, dramatically reducing the cost of your part.

Self supporting angle Parts on Demand
Self supporting angle Parts on Demand
Self supporting angle Parts on Demand

Don’t forget to include the holes in your model!

Holes and cutouts in vertical walls are essential overhanging features. By adjusting their geometry - basically giving them a ‘roof’ compliant with the Self-Supporting Angle - support structures will become obsolete. That’s why FDM parts are often designed with tear-drop shaped holes, rather than cylindrical ones!

Have a look at what we’ve made

In this example we deliberately went over the top: applying the Self-Supporting Angle wherever we could. You’ll recognize the Self-Supporting Angle in all cut-outs and horizontal surfaces. In regular production, this would save you € 250.

Want to know how to optimize your model? Have a chat with one of our experts at +31 85 4444 200 or send an e-mail to

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Posted by Neil

Als drijvende kracht achter Parts On Demand heeft Neil een passie voor het ontwikkelen, produceren en testen van ideeën die aan het voorfront van technologische ontwikkeling staan.

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