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This instructables reviews some important considerations when printing custom lettering as  part of a 3D model. Text can either be printed in a positive raised fashion or in a negative fashion as shown in this image. The text in this image is a font called fancy and much harder to read when printed in a negative format.

This instructable is most relevant to models that are downloaded from thingiverse.com after using the customizer app to adjust font settings and custom lettering choices.

After several test prints I chose an easier to read font and increased the font size to improve readability.

The image shows the part of the text that reads d-a-d-d-y 
TIP: A standard font is easier to read for most users.

I made it at Techshop http://techshop.ws with a Type A Machines Series 1 3D Printer
Submitted by SFlettering for the Instructables Sponsorship Program

Step 1: Starting the Print Right for Custom Lettering and Font Selection for Best Quality

A Negative format custom lettering print will have the letters below the surface.

When you start your print expect that your ring which is usually a perfect circle will have some areas missing PLA on the first few layers if it includes text. Many times the font selection has letters that are too large and run off the edge of the model creating early layers that may not stick to the print surface correctly because of the gap on the first layer. 

Note: A z-height that is too low can ruin the letters and decrease readability

Step 2: Font Selection Criteria and Planning for Success

In this series of 2 images you can see that when the correct font selection is made including

1) font size
2) font choice
3) font spacing

the results are that the bottom few layers are

1) solid circles
2) the text does not go off the edge of the ring
3) the top surface and final layers are complete circles
4) the letters can be read from a normal distance

TIP: 3D Printing custom letters regardless of the font can produce sharp edges.

Step 3: Z Height Adjustment for Best Results When Printing Text

When you are printing text either as a negative or positive (raised lettering) you will benefit from a very careful approach to setting the z-height. As mentioned if you have a z-height that is too low the nozzle can ruin/crush the previous layer and it will be harder to read. If the z-height is too far away from the print surface it is likely that the PLA will not stick well enough on the first few layers. (see step 4)

TIP: Careful z-height settings are best achieved by always using the same exact paper when adjusting the settings.

Step 4: Bad Z-Height Can Equal Lifting From PLA

This image shows an example of how the 3D print can be ruined if the nozzle height is too far from the print surface. When you are printing, the z-height margin of error (on a Type Machines Series 1) is less than 1 full turn of the limit screw that sets the z-height. Others issues that can also create a situation where the print lifts from the print surface include.

1) a dirty print surface
2) a gap in the tape
3) an uneven print surface

TIP: Do not allow a print to continue that lifts from the print surface as the quality will be very low and layers will easily come apart if it even finishes printing without the nozzle pushing the printed model out of alignment between layers.

Step 5: Final Print of Ring With Fancy Text - a Bit Hard to Read at This Size

I attempted many times to print using different settings with Fancy text and each time I used fancy text I found that it was very difficult to read. I tested printing at different quality levels and although it could have been a user mistake I found that a better print quality did not always make the custom text easier to read. 

Fancy text was hard to read when printed in a negative fashion where the letters are the missing space although I had better results when printing text raised above the edge of the print.

Printing onto a larger surface such as a bracelet also improved the appearance of the selected font. 

The text can be read if you zoom in, but a typical person will not be viewing the ring from a few inches away and it needs to be readable from a few feet away.

TIP: Practice printing a few times with different custom font settings when using the thingiverse customizer app for best results. 

About This Instructable

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Bio: Based in San Francisco I strive to incorporate custom lettering in the art that I design, print, and make.
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