Save money with sparse 3D printing

Fused Deposition Modeling or FDM 3D printing is an excellent and popular choice for 3D printing rapid prototypes, jigs, fixtures, tooling, and low volume production parts, due in part to its material choices. FDM allows you to build complex parts with the same tried and tested thermoplastics found in conventional manufacturing.

A lesser known fact is that with FDM technology, you can chose between different interior fills to increase your savings when requesting your next 3D printing job. Depending on the material requested and your prototyping needs, you can print the interior of your part in up to three standard options plus additional custom options. Today we are going to cover the two most popular options:  

  • Solid
  • Sparse

Regardless of the interior fill that you choose, the exterior of your part will always be printed in solid. We have completed jobs in which we printed the same part using both of the above-mentioned interior fills, and the parts looked identical on the outside! There was a noticeable weight difference when they were picked up, which helped to tell them apart. When choosing interior fills, there are a few factors to keep in mind. These are some basic guidelines; each project is different and should be evaluated on an individual basis.

When to choose a solid interior fill:

  • Part strength is a critical feature
  • Part is comprised of fine details & thin walls

Choosing a solid interior fill will produce the strongest part. If part strength is a critical factor for your prototype, then a solid fill is the way to go.  A good example of this is any part created to replace metal tooling, as these parts typically need to withstand high levels of impact and heat. Functional prototypes are another area in which you may not want to sacrifice strength.  If you are going to put your part through the ringer, and the interior needs to resemble the final product as closely as possible, you will want to keep it solid.

Another consideration is the amount of fine details or features that your part has. If your part has thin walls or fine features, you will want a solid fill. With thin walled parts, there typically isn’t enough room for a sparse fill.  Your savings would be marginal and it wouldn’t be worth any loss of strength.

Aerospace 3D printing

Polycarbonate (PC) form tool used in hydroforming machines

Medical Prototype 3D Printed with Ultem 1010 thermoplastic material

Parts that have thin walls are best printed in a solid interior fill

When to choose a sparse fill: 

  • Weight is an issue
  • You have a part with a large interior and strength isn’t a factor

Jigs, fixtures, and trade show parts are three great fits for a sparse interior fill. BMW was able to reduce the weight of one hand-held assembly device by 72 percent by using a sparse fill printing technique. When a worker uses a tool hundreds of times in a shift, the reduced weight can make a big difference. Large trade show parts that are shipped frequently can also benefit from a sparse fill; the reduction in weight can help reduce not only shipping costs, but the strain of setting up the parts for each show.

Perhaps the most popular way to use a sparse interior fill is on a prototype you are printing for concept design or for fit and form testing. In most of these cases, you do not need the maximum strength of the thermoplastic material for your part.  You need to hold the part in your hand, make sure it is the right size, make sure it will fit nicely inside of the final assembly, etc. It is a one and done part before moving onto manufacturing or making additional design changes. If this is the case, consider giving the sparse interior fill a try for your next 3D printed project.

3D printed ergonomic production jig

Hand held device printed in a solid interior fill to reduce the weight by 72%

aerospace 3d printing materials

Aerospace prototype 3D printed using a sparse printing technique

How much will I save with a sparse fill versus a solid?

This is a very popular question and the answer, like so many others, is that it is geometry dependent. If your part has a large solid interior, i.e. a dumbbell, then you would experience far more significant savings by printing in a sparse fill versus a part that is mostly hollow, i.e. a cup. Depending on your part geometry and your prototyping needs, this printing technique can save you a couple of dollars, or it can cut your project cost in half. If you have a part for which you would like a quote, simply upload your STL or native CAD files here and mention in the comments that you would like to try a sparse printing technique.

SUP706 Soluble Support now available on the Stratasys J750 and Objet30 (v3) Printers

Great news, the advantages of SUP706 soluble support are now available on the Stratasys J750 and Objet30 (V3) Printer family, including the Objet30 Basic, Objet30 Pro, and Objet30 Prime.  With the new addition of this soluble support material you can experience:

  • Freedom of design; easily print and clean parts with:
    • Intricate, delicate features
    • Fine details and interior cavities
    • Internal voids and undercuts
  • Significantly improved print process productivity
  • Efficiently clean many small parts at once
  • Reduce time and labor in the post-processing of support removal
  • Quicker and easier support removal using the WaterJet cleaning station

Click through the pictures on the left to see parts printed and cleaned using SUP706 soluble support material. Request More Information >>

SUP706 Soluble Support Removal Process

SUP706 gives you three ways to remove your support material.  Hands-free, peel and soak, or using the WaterJet.

Hands-Free: Minimal Cost Per Part

  1. Place part in cleaning solution tank for 2 to 24 hours (depending on geometry)
  2. After support is removed, rinse off any residue

Peel & Soak:

  1. Quickly removal most of the support manually (1 to 2 minutes per part)
  2. Place part in cleaning solution tank for 1 to 4 hours (depending on geometry)
  3. After support is removed, rinse off any residue

WaterJet: Fastest Time Per Part

  1. Use the WaterJet to remove the support material.  SUP706 is faster and easier to remove when compared to SUP705.

Watch the above quick video to see the three support removal methods in action.


Q: Can I update my current Objet30 (Basic/Pro/Prime) to run SUP706 soluble support?  
A: YES – as long as it is a V3.  V2s are not eligible to update at this time.

Q: How much is the cost to update my machine?  
A: The update is FREE, there is not cost to update your machine to run SUP706.  You will need to purchase a DT3 cleaning tank in order to take advantage of the hands-free or peel & soak support removal methods.

Q: What is the update process for my Objet30 V3 machine?
A: This is a self-install update, done by the end user.  It requires only a software update for the printer and Objet Studio software.  Contact us at 866.499.7500 or if you would like to request your software update.

Q: What is the price of SUP706?
A: Same as SUP705, there is no price increase

Q: Can SUP705 still be used after the update is performed? 
A: Yes

Q: How do I purchase a DT3 cleaning tank to use with SUP706
A: Engatech can assist with the purchase of a DT3 cleaning tank.  Contact us today and we will get you a quote.

Fortus 900mc 3D Printer Gen II New Features

With the Fortus 900mc 3D printer you gain maximum throughput, repeatability, and durability for the demanding needs of the manufacturing floor.  And now this 3D printer just got even better. With recent upgrades on the Gen II you also get (at no additional cost):


  • Remote print monitoring with a new internal camera
  • Improved lighting inside for use with the camera
  • New Nylon 6 Material Option
  • Updated, rebust electrical system to meet latest standards
  • GrabCAD Print ready, which includes:
    • Job Reports
    • Scheduling
    • Remote print monitoring
  • Updated camera and job report options in Control Center software

Download Fortus 900mc Gen II 3D Printer Brochure >>

Fortus 900mc 3D Printer Gen II

Remote Monitoring Details
The new built-in camera lets you monitor your build from anywhere!


  • The image refreshes approximately once per minute (does not collect photos or provide any video)
  • Remote monitoring can be turned off to prevent viewing of confidential parts
    • System on/off feature
    • Insight software confidential flag
Fortus 900mc 3D Printer Gen II Camera View

Nylon 6 Material Overview
The Nylon family of polymers is one of the most widely used thermoplastics in traditional manufacturing.  Nylon 6 is specially formulated for FDM printing, delivering the right balance of Nylon 6 properties and ability to successfully print FDM parts. Advantages of FDM Nylon 6 include:


  • Best combination of strength and toughness among Stratasys FDM materials
    • Strength of Ultem 9085; >10k psi
    • Toughness of Nylon; .>15% elongation at break & >15ft-lb/in impact strength
  • Higher strength/stiffness and better appearance compared to Nylon 12
  • Can be used in a broad range of applications requiring high tensile strength
  • Enables repaid creation of functional prototypes and manufacturing aids with good impact strength.

Download Nylon 6 Material Brochure >>

Manufacturing Jig 3D Printing in FDM Nylon 6

FDM Fortus 900mc Materials Portfolio

CategoryFDM MaterialKey Characteristics
StandardABS-M30Verstile; tougher
ABS-ESD7Static dissipative
ASAUV stable
EngineeringNylon 12Toughness
Nylon 6Tough and Strong
PC-ABSDurable (impact)
PCStrong (tension)
Ultem 9085Mechanically well-rounded; FST certification
Ultem 1010High stregth & low CTE
PPSFGood thermal and chemical resistance
ST130Sacrificial tooling material
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