Effects of Part Orientation, Printer Selection, and Infill Density on Mechanical Properties and Production Cost of 3D Printed Flexural Specimens

Ruiqi Chen, Liseli Baich, James Lauer, Debbie G. Senesky, Guha Manogharan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This work investigates the influence of infill density, printer selection, and part orientation on the mechanical properties and production cost of flexural specimens fabricated using material extrusion additive manufacturing systems. Flexural test specimens are fabricated in both production-grade (Fortus 250mc) and entry-level (MakerBot Replicator 2X) material extrusion systems with varying infill densities (1 mm to 10 mm spacing between rasters). In addition, solid infill specimens are printed in three orientations to establish baseline mechanical stiffness and strength. Finite element simulations and a simplified analytical model based on Euler-Bernoulli beam theory are developed. Results show reasonable agreement between analytical, simulation, and experimental results; 10-20% and 10-40% deviation for production-grade and entry-level specimens, respectively. There is a 40% reduction in stiffness and strength between the solid XY specimen and 1 mm infill specimen. As infill density is further decreased, stiffness and strength asymptotically reduce by 60-70% when compared to solid specimens. This effect is more pronounced in specimens fabricated using entry-level printers, which indicates that printer selection plays a role in printing highly sparse parts. Cost analysis suggests that up to 40% savings can be achieved with highly sparse structures. However, for structural parts, it is recommended that parts be printed with solid infill and with the loading direction aligned in the XY plane to achieve high stiffness, high strength, and reasonable cost. Findings from this study show that there is minimal cost savings but high reduction in mechanical stiffness and strength when sparse infills are used in both production-grade and entry-level printers. Hence, it is recommended that solid infill should be used in all regions of parts that carry significant mechanical stress and sparse infill be used solely to support internal geometries and overhangs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-560
Number of pages12
JournalManufacturing Letters
StatePublished - Sep 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of Part Orientation, Printer Selection, and Infill Density on Mechanical Properties and Production Cost of 3D Printed Flexural Specimens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this