3D Learning Hub

Common 3D printing problems: What makes your 3D file non-printable ?
- Complete Guide


At Sculpteo, we want to offer the best 3D printing experience possible for our clients. To make the most of this technology and use our online 3D printing service, you have to be aware of all the mistakes that could make your 3D file non-printable. With all the CAD software, the 3D printing materials and the 3D printing technologies available, you might be a little bit lost. But with a little 3D printing problem checklist, you’ll be able to avoid them. In this blog post, we are going to give you some advice to succeed with your future additive manufacturing projects.  

We made a list of the most common 3D printing problems encountered by users. We will see how to avoid them quite easily thanks to really simple solutions. Follow the guide.

Designing for 3D printing: The key for a successful 3D printing project

Creating the 3D model such as an STL file for a 3D printing project is an essential step. Indeed, as we will see later in this blogpost, the common issues making a file non-printable are problems related to its design.


If you are not experienced with 3D modeling, choose the right software that will fit your level of expertise and will allow you to create simple and printable models. If you are a beginner, we made a selection of free CAD software that could perfectly fit your needs. Moreover, we recommend you to follow special tutorials, to create 3D models, especially for 3D printing.

Don’t worry, if you don’t want to spend time 3D modeling your part for 3D printing, experts from Sculpteo Studio can help you create the parts for your most ambitious projects!

Indeed, as a 3D printing service we see a lot of amazing 3D printing projects, but we also see a lot of errors making some files non-printable. We would like to help you avoid these kinds of problems. Actually, we will see in this article that your file can be printable but can break in no time, be deformed or not really go out of the 3D printer as expected. We will help you find 3D printing troubleshooting.

Here are the most common errors that make 3D models non-printable.

3D printing objects

What make our client’s 3D file non-printable ?

1. Not following carefully the materials’ design guidelines

When 3D modeling for 3D printing, you have to really pay attention to the 3D printing material that you choose. All the materials are different, with different properties, different constraints, but overall different design guidelines. Our first and most important advice is this one: double-checking these design guidelines must be your new habit!

On Sculpteo’s website, you can find on each 3D printing material page all the recommendations regarding minimum spacings and clearances, but also the minimum wall thickness, that will allow you to get an actual 3D printable part and to ensure your print quality.

You simply have to check that the part is feasible. It might look good in your 3D software, with a good render and dimension accuracy, but it doesn’t mean that all the parts of your object can be printed.

2. Not respecting the minimum wall thickness

Wall thickness is part of the materials guidelines. As it is the major reason of our clients’ 3D printing issues, we thought that it deserves its own part. All of the 3D printing materials have their own minimum wall thickness, for flexible or rigid parts. While 3D modeling, really ask yourself: Is this part solid enough? Does it have to be stress-resistant?

Some clients actually want to create flexible objects but forget to take into account that the parts have to support too much weight, and might quickly break. Thin walls are causing this 3D printing problem. Particular care must be given to the most stressed parts, they must be thickened as much as possible. Your part might be printable, but it could break in no time, it could even break inside the 3D printer.


3. Making crossed volumes

Crossed volumes are among the most common issues while 3D printing. There are some 3D modeling details that 3D printers have some difficulties to detect, and two distinct parts crossing each other is one of them.

It is maybe clear in your head but the 3D printer will have some difficulties to read crossed volumes like this one:


Indeed, the 3D printer will more easily read these kinds of volumes:


You can easily change what is causing this 3D printing failure, you just have to use the “boolean union”, available in your CAD software.

If you want more information about 3D printing failures linked to crossed volumes, check out this blogpost.

4. Creating non-manifold models

Open objects with edges that are not totally connected or objects with added faces: these errors can make your 3D file non-printable. To exist in the real world, your part has to have a realistic volume.

You can’t print open objects, you will necessarily have to add a new face to your model to fill the hole. To do so, you have to rework on your 3D models with your 3D modeling software. The 3D printer has to detect the volume and the surface of the part to 3D print it. Here is an example, the last one is an open object and can’t be printed:


You model can also have overlapping faces or internal faces. You may not see them, they are not changing the geometry of your part, but the 3D printer will have some difficulties to decipher them. That is why you also have to open your 3D modeling software in order to remove the additional faces. Don’t worry, these modifications won’t change the visual aspect of your object.

If you still have non-manifold issues with your geometry, be sure to check our blogpost on how to fix non-manifold geometry.

5. Not minding surface orientation

When 3D modeling your part, you have to take care of the orientation of faces. In most of 3D modeling software, faces are internal or external, it helps to define the volume of the whole part. These pieces of information are essential for the 3D machine, that is why all of the faces of your model have to be oriented in the right direction.


6. Supports issues

Supports are often the solution to problems against gravity pull and can really help you to get great 3D printed parts. Some parts need a little support to be printable. That is particularly helpful for resin or metal 3D printing where heavy structures won’t have the same support as with powder-based technology. For example, with the SLS technology, the print bed is full of powder, and already act as a support.

But some of our clients also have some problems regarding their supports: they are sometimes hard to remove, and it can damage or totally break the part. Sometimes, they are also impossible to remove. If you want to print your part correctly with supports, you have to really pay attention to it.

If you need help regarding the creation of your support, check out our best tips in this blogpost.

7. Choosing the wrong format for your 3D file

Last but not least, in order to get your 3D printed part you have to upload the right file format on our 3D printing service, otherwise your part won’t be printable.

At Sculpteo, our online 3D printing service, we support a lot of file formats, just check the list of supported formats before uploading your 3D file.

How is Sculpteo helping you to avoid these errors?

To help you succeed in your projects, we developed a great 3D viewer and some software tools that will help you to avoid some of these errors. For instance, we have an amazing tool: solidity check. Once you upload your part on our website, the solidity check will analyze your model and find the most fragile parts that need to thicken. You have the choice: our program can thicken your object automatically, or you can rework on your part with your CAD software.

Be careful, the solidity check doesn’t take into account physical aberrations such as floating parts, unstable parts or parts supporting too much weight. Our solidity check is quite efficient, but some of these errors might not be detected.

Are you ready to 3D print your project? You can upload your 3D file directly on our online 3D printing service. We hope that you will use this 3D printing problems checklist and that these 3D print troubleshooting tips will help you in the future. If you keep following all of the advice that we gave you in this blogpost, your 3D object will be perfectly 3D printable!  

If you need help or still encounter some 3D printing failure, please contact our sales team.

You want other tips to get the best 3D printing projects? Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, we will send you directly all of our best tips!

What causes 3D prints to fail?

What are the most common problems with a 3D printer?

Get the latest 3D printing news delivered right to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter to hear about the latest 3D printing technologies, applications, materials, and software.