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What Does Infill Mean in 3D Printing? A Comprehensive Explanation

In 3D printing, infill refers to the internal structure that fills the interior of a printed object. Its density directly impacts the part's strength, weight, and printing duration. Using infill reduces material consumption, and printing time is shortened. Infill provides the part with the necessary support and structural stability. As part of the printing process, slicer software creates various infill patterns, with popular options such as honeycombs or triangles in slicer software like Cura.

Understanding the types and patterns of infill can help you make informed decisions regarding 3D printing. It is possible to improve the properties of your finished product by incorporating the appropriate 3D infill pattern into your printing project. 

Key Takeaways

  • Infill is a fundamental aspect of 3D printing. It is a major component in determining part strength, weight, and printing time
  • Infill types and patterns impact materials used, density, and structural strength
  • Optimizing infill settings can improve print time and overall print quality

Understanding 3D Printing Infill

Infill refers to the interior part of a 3D-printed object, which determines the strengthstructure, and weight of a 3D-printed object. It can range from a highly dense structure to a hollow part, depending on the desired application of the printed object1.

Purpose of Infill

The primary purposes of infill are twofold:

  1. Providing structural support: The infill structure ensures the final 3D print can withstand weight and stress, especially in functional parts that need to be robust and durable2.
  2. Saving on material costs: Adjusting the infill density during printing controls the output of infill material. A lower infill percentage will consume less filament, reducing material costs and printing time, while a higher infill percentage will result in a more robust, heavier print3.

Infill Vs. Shell

When 3D printing an object, it's important to distinguish between the infill and the shell. The shell is the outer layer, enclosing the infill structure within. The shell thickness and infill density can be adjusted independently to achieve the desired strength, weight, and appearance of the final printed object4.

Infill Percentage



Non-functioning parts, display models, or figurines


Light use, functional parts, gear wheels, or children's toys

Understanding infill in 3D printing enables end users to optimize prints for strength, weight, cost, and appearance. Adjusting the infill percentage and shell thickness allows you to create customized objects while maintaining an efficient, cost-effective printing process5.


  1. All3DP - 3D Printing Infill: The Basics for Perfect Results 
  2. Print To Peer - What Does Infill Mean in 3D Printing? 
  3. 3DSourced - Understanding Infill Density Settings in 3D Printing 
  4. Xometry - Infill in 3D Printing: Definition, Main Parts, and Different Types 
  5. The Next Layer - Infill in 3D Printing: Meaning, Percentages and Density Explained 

Infill Basics: Types and Patterns

3D printing infill is essential to creating functional and durable printed objects. This section will discuss the various types and patterns of infill used in 3D printing and how they affect print quality and strength for the final product.

Different Types of Infill

Generally, there are two main types of infill: solid and sparse. Solid infill creates a completely solid printed object, while sparse infill uses a pattern to create a more lightweight structure. The infill type depends on the requirements for the 3D-printed object.

  1. Solid Infill: A solid infill provides maximum strength and durability to the object; however, a solid infill results in higher material consumption and longer print times. It suits applications requiring high mechanical performance or objects bearing significant loads.
  2. Sparse Infill: Using sparse infill can save material usage. It's suitable for less demanding applications. 

Various Infill Patterns

Infill patterns provide support to the 3D-printed object. Some commonly used infill patterns include:

  • Rectangular Infill: This pattern consists of horizontal and vertical lines forming a grid. It is a basic pattern with moderate strength, flexibility, and faster print times.
  • Triangular Infill: Triangular infill strengthens the object by forming triangles within each layer. As a result, it provides better strength than the rectangular infill while maintaining reasonable print time and material consumption.
  • Grid Pattern: In a grid pattern, multiple lines crisscross, creating an interwoven mesh within the object. This pattern provides balanced strength, moderate print times, and optimal material usage.

In addition to these widely used patterns, several alternative infill patterns are available, including honeycomb, concentric, and gyroid. The selection of an appropriate infill pattern will depend on the intended use case of the 3D-printed object. 

Infill Settings and Slicer Software

Adjusting Infill Settings

Infill refers to the internal structure of a printed part, which can be produced using many different shapes and densities. The infill output for the 3D printed object is pre-configured using Slicer software such as Ultimaker Cura and Simplify3D.

To adjust infill settings, modify the infill density and infill pattern. Infill density is the percentage of material used to fill the internal structure. Higher infill density means more material is used to increase the strength and weight of the part, while lower infill density results in lighter parts with reduced material usage. Infill patterns are managed within the slicer software, with common patterns including:

  • Rectilinear
  • Triangular
  • Hexagonal
  • Gyroid

Selecting Infill in Slicing Software

You can access the infill setting tab or section after importing a 3D model into the slicing software. Here, you can adjust the infill density, pattern, and other parameters affecting part strength, durability, and functionality. Check out the available infill patterns in Cura here.

Slicer Software

Infill Setting

Infill Patterns


Infill Density (%)

Rectilinear, Triangular, Hexagonal


Infill Percentage (%)

Rectilinear, Triangular, Octagonal

Select the desired pattern and density percentage to change the infill settings. The software will generate the appropriate toolpaths and g-code for your 3D printer, confirming the infill settings. Examine the final 3D printed part to ensure the chosen infill settings have met your desired objectives.

Material Usage and Infill Density

infill density is a crucial parameter that determines the amount of material used to fill the inside of a printed model. Choosing the appropriate infill density significantly impacts the balance between material consumption and object strength.

Higher infill density results in a more robust and heavier print but comes at the cost of increased material usage. On the other hand, lower infill density leads to less material use, resulting in lighter and often faster prints but with reduced strength. 

Elements that influence good infill density are:

  • Strength requirements: A higher density provided better structural support for objects exposed to mechanical stress or load.

  • Weight limitations: Opting for a lower infill density in applications yields better material savings.

  • Printing time: A higher-density infill requires a longer printing time, whereas a lower infill density results in a shorter print time.

A few common infill density values are:

  • 10-20%: Suitable for decorative items or objects that will not undergo high mechanical stress.
  • 30-50%: Ideal for functional parts that require moderate strength.
  • 60-100%: Recommended for parts with high mechanical stress or load.

In conclusion, understanding the relationship between material usage and infill density is key in 3D printing. Considering the printed object's functional requirements and adjusting the infill density enables the end user to optimize material consumption in a 3D printing project.

Structural Strength and Mechanical Properties

Determining Part Strength

Selecting the most robust infill pattern is crucial for parts requiring high strength, such as functional prototypes or mechanical components. Common infill patterns include:

  • Rectilinear: easy to print and provides good strength in both x and y directions
  • Honeycomb: increased durability, more isotropic strength, but slower to print
  • Gyroid: offers almost isotropic mechanical properties across x, y, and z axes but is more complex and takes longer to print

Mechanical Strength Vs. Infill Density

The mechanical properties of 3D printed parts, such as tensile and bending strength, depend heavily on infill density. Higher infill density yields parts with greater strength at the cost of increased printing time and material use. Conversely, lower infill density reduces weight and printing time but sacrifices part strength.

For maximum tensile strength, a higher infill density is required. However, it's worth noting that increasing the infill percentage might not lead to a proportional increase in strength beyond a certain point. This threshold may vary based on the material used and infill pattern.

When designing functional parts that demand high mechanical strength, find a balance between infill density and part strength. 

Optimizing Print Time and Printing Process

Impact of Infill on Print Speed

A higher infill density results in a sturdier part but may lead to longer print times. On the other hand, a lower infill percentage can speed up the printing process but may result in a weaker structure in terms of its mechanical properties.

The choice of infill patterns impacts print speed. Specific patterns like honeycomb and triangles allow for a faster print while maintaining a relatively strong internal structure. It's essential to strike a balance between print speed and the required strength of the final product.

Some slicer programs provide the fastest infill patterns, prioritizing speed over the object's internal strength. It's imperative to consider the specific requirements of the 3D printed part to select the appropriate infill pattern.

Infill Contribution to Print Duration

The infill percentage contributes to the overall printing process. Higher infill percentages require more time and material, which increases costs and extends the print duration. In contrast, lower percentages can help minimize these factors while producing an adequate structure for many applications.

Here is a simplified breakdown of infill percentage ranges and their typical use cases:

  • 0-20%: Non-functioning parts, display models, or figurines
  • 20-40%: Light use, functional parts such as gear wheels in working models or children's toys
  • 40-60%: Moderate use, items requiring more strength and structure
  • 60-80%: Heavy use, parts with higher stress or load-bearing applications
  • 80-100%: Extreme use, maximum strength and rigidity

In conclusion, optimizing the print time and printing process in 3D printing primarily involves understanding the balance between infill density, infill patterns, and the specific requirements of the 3D printed part. By selecting the appropriate settings, it is possible to create high-quality, functional parts with the desired strength and rigidity while minimizing printing time and material costs.

Advanced Infill Techniques and Materials

High-Strength Infill Options

Numerous infill patterns can be found, each with its unique characteristics.

A few common high-strength infill patterns include:

  • Rectilinear: Consists of parallel lines, offering consistent strength in all directions.
  • Triangular: Forms a grid of equilateral triangles, providing a better strength-to-weight ratio compared to rectilinear.
  • Honeycomb: Resembles a bee's honeycomb structure, known for its high strength and lightweight properties.

By adjusting the infill density, additive manufacturing professionals can find the best way of balancing strength, weight, and material usage for a particular application. Generally, higher infill densities lead to more substantial, heavier parts, while a lower infill density decreases weight and material consumption.

Innovative Infill Materials

Developments in materials science have expanded the range of infill options, offering enhanced strength properties. Here are some innovative infill materials:

  1. Carbon fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP): Carbon fiber is popular in additive manufacturing due to its exceptional strength and lightweight nature. It can be combined with other thermoplastics to create composite materials that exhibit superior mechanical properties compared to traditional materials.

  2. Metal powder infills: Metal powder, mixed with polymer binding agents, creates metal-polymer composites for enhanced mechanical properties and electrical conductivity.

  3. Foam-like infills: Printing with foam-like materials reduces the object's weight and provides good impact resistance. These infills are ideal for applications such as cushioning or padding.

Choosing the correct type of infill based on the project's requirements is a must for 3D printing. Experimentation and research are essential to determine the best infill techniques and achieve the optimal structural integrity, weight, and cost-efficiency for a 3D-printed object.

Choosing the Right Infill for Your Project

Balancing Infill Density and Use Case

The correct infill pattern and density can significantly affect your printed object's strength, weight, and functionality—understanding when to use which pattern is developed through practice.

Increasing the infill density can enhance your print's strength, rigidity, and material usage. A lower infill density may be sufficient for aesthetic purposes or when structural integrity is not a concern.

A Guide to Infill for Different Applications

Here's a brief guide on selecting the best infill pattern and density for various applications:

  1. Non-structural or decorative objects: For items that are meant for display and do not require substantial durability, consider using lighter infill densities such as 10-20% with simple patterns like grid or lines.
  2. Standard prints: For more commonly used objects that undergo some handling but not load-bearing or structural purposes, a balanced infill density might range from 20-50% with honeycomb or triangles patterns, as they offer a good mix of strength and material efficiency1.
  3. Structural or load-bearing items: For components that need to withstand high stress, a higher infill density of 50-70% with strong patterns like gyroid or cubic subdivision provides optimal strength and durability2.

Consider your project's requirements and goals before deciding on the correct infill pattern and density. And remember, the optimal solution may be a compromise between strength, weight, material usage, and print time to achieve the best outcome.


  1. Understanding Infill Density Settings in 3D Printing - 3DSourced 

  2. Infill in 3D Printing: Meaning, Percentages and Density Explained 

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