Infill is a characteristic unique to the FDM process. In FDM an extruder nozzle deposits material along the toolpath, fusing it to previous layers in order to build a 3-dimensional body. Thus being called Fused Deposition Modeling.
In this process, the exterior surface is printed with a number of contour paths to ensure dimensionality. The interior of the volume can be printed “solid” but does not necessarily have to be.
The pattern printed inside the contours is referred to as “infill”.
Types of Infill
While there are a theoretically infinite number of infill configurations, we offer three standard infills which provide options for balancing weight, strength, and cost.
Highest strength, closest to full density. This is equivalent to Stratasys' Solid build style.
Method: The extruder deposits alternating diagonal patterns such that the deposition lines connect and press together, creating a near-solid.
Weight reduction with some strength reduction. This infill is equivalent to Stratasys Sparse Double Dense build style. **Note: Light infill may trap liquid in the air-gaps. This is due to liquid immersion during support removal, and each column has the potential to be watertight. Ultra-light infill is recommended on parts with large internal volumes.**
Method: A grid pattern is deposited in every layer.
For form retention, when the strength of the part isn’t an issue. This infill is equivalent to Stratasys Sparse build style. For Prototyping PLA, which is run on desktop 3D printers, an ultra-light infill of 20% is used.
Method: A diagonal lined infill pattern. Direction alternates layer by layer, creating an ultra-light grid infill.
What percent infill is this?
The final percent infill by volume will vary based on the geometry of the parts. Every part will have a set number of “cap” layers on the top and bottom (default 4) as well as 2-3 contour layers based on part size. Because of this, the surface area to volume ratio will cause the total density of the part to vary.
A thin flat plate can be 100% filled despite having ultra-light infill selected, if it is thinner than the sum of the top and bottom cap layers.
A large cube may have a very low density, due to the high volume to surface area ratio.
Because of this, the percent density of parts varies to a great degree based on part geometry.
Solid is 100% density, right?
Not exactly. There may be some very small voids in between layers where the infill lines meet, but the part will behave as a solid part does. As a result, FDM will not be water-tight as built.
For more information on infill options and other information about the FDM 3D printing process, be sure to check out our FDM Design Guide!
Visit our 3D printing services page