Choosing Infill Percentage for 3D Printed Parts

When you order 3D printed parts you may need to specify an infill percentage for your parts. 3D printed parts are typically not produced with a solid interior. Instead, the printing process uses a crosshatch or other pattern for interior surfaces. This greatly reduces cost due to reduced material usage and print time, while moderately reducing strength. The density of this pattern is referred to as the infill percentage.

The diagram below shows the appearance of various infill settings on a partially completed model. The exposed pattern would not be visible on a completed print.

Cross-section of 3D printed parts at differing infill percentages

Cross-section of 3D printed parts at differing infill percentages

Use these recommendations to choose the best infill percentage based on the requirements of your project:

  • 0-20%: Non-functional parts: For pieces that are not functional or do not need to withstand force, such as a display model or presentation prototypes, 10-20% infill is sufficient. In some cases, no infill is a viable option if there are no large flat surfaces on the top of the print. If there are large flat surfaces on the top of the print, some infill is needed to support those surfaces.

  • 20-40%:  Light-use parts: For functional parts which will undergo some force, a moderate level of infill provides nearly the same strength as a solid part at a reduced cost.  

  • 40-100% Heavy-use parts: If your parts must withstand significant forces, or strength is the most important factor above cost, a higher infill percentage is the best choice. However, increasing infill percentage beyond 60% has diminishing returns on strength.

The price difference between higher and lower infill settings can vary greatly depending on the geometry of the model. Models with more interior volume will see a significant impact to the cost from changes in infill percentage, whereas thinner parts may see no impact.  

Print speed is another factor to consider when choosing an infill percentage for a 3D print. A higher infill percentage will result in a longer print time, especially on models with a large interior volume.

Also, keep in mind that infill is not the only setting that can impact the strength of a printed part.  The thickness of the outer shell and the how the part is oriented when printing are also important factors for the strength of the print. If you print your parts through us, we will help you decide on the best settings based on the requirements of your application.