How to make the benchy float

Engineers have always been intrigued by solving issues, investigating, being curious, and challenging the norm. The 3DBenchy is a 3D model specifically designed for testing the accuracy and capabilities of 3D printers. Created in 2015 by Creative Tools, it is free to download from Thingiverse and other model websites. 3DBenchy has long since won its status as the industry benchmark model and is believed to be the most 3D-printed stl model worldwide used by professionals and hobbyists.

In our REALvision Pro printing software, benchy has been sliced numerous times to test the 3D printing technology, primarily on an FDM printer. And every time, it has been an engineering irritation that the prints of the cute boat would not float on water. Initially, the benchy focuses on testing the surface printing capabilities of the 3D printer. But in additive manufacturing, we also focus on the inside. With an engineer’s mindset, a flame was lit, and we needed to find ways to make the beloved little boat float.

Making three different boats for the guessing game

We load REALvision Pro with the STL file for all three versions using the original 3Dbenchy CAD model. All modifications are made in our 3D printing software REALvision Pro. The printing time and filament usage are based on a factor 2 size increased benchy model using fused deposition modeling Prusa i3 printer and melting PLA (polylactic acid or thermoplastic polyester). The only difference between the three used plastic filaments is the colors.

Fabrication of the first boat. We print it solid, which is the original way to 3D print the benchy. As you may know, this version dropped like a rock to the bottom of the bowl. Weight: 146 g, Filament usage: 489 cm, Printing time: 7 hours and 51 minutes.

Ok, lesson learned, the model needs to be lighter.

A software program to fit your needs

If you want to change the infill without doing 3D modeling, consider adding REALvision Pro to your 3D printer kit. We promise you easy-to-use 3D slicing software in the high-end printing industry. Suppose you are:

  • A picky hobbyist with a cheap desktop 3D printer.
  • Running a 3D printing service with flawless 3d prints.
  • 3D printing metal parts for aerospace.
  • Customizable prosthetics, implants, or casts in ABS plastic (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene).
  • Rapid prototyping 3D models from design software.
  • Need help with calibration or material profiles.
  • Finding the best 3D printer for your application.
  • Exploring manufacturing processes and technology to obtain zero-waste.

In that case, we have a software plan fitting your needs.

Making three different boats for the guessing game

For the second boat, we focus on the inside and fill it with a three-dimensional low-weight lattice infill to make it lighter. We use the standard setting in REALvision Pro. In this case, it is an 15 % infill. Yep, the boat is floating, but the balance is off. It tilts and will eventually sink. But look at these numbers compared to the massive structure. We are saving both 3D printing materials and optimizing the printing speed. Weight: 60 g, Filament usage: 202 cm, Printing time: 3 hours and 5 minutes.

Hmm, still not floating. Now we need to dig into the toolbox.

Making three different boats for the guessing game

For the third boat, we need to prove that it can float, even though the ship is not designed to sail. But again, has this ever stopped the intricate engineer brain from solving an issue?

So looking at the tilting boat from before, we need to be intuitive to bring the floating benchy to life. More is required to make it lighter. We also need to distribute the weight differently throughout the small boat. So we managed to make benchy float, and this is what we did:

Lighten the top layer-by-layer
We modified the layer height from 0.2mm to 0.15 mm on the boat roof and deck, so the part is 3D printed layer by layer to form a tight and light structure at the top of the ship.

Completely watertight FDM printing is available per request

Printer manufacturers have been struggling for years with the strength and porosity of printed parts using FDM technology to obtain the full advantages of additive manufacturing technologies. REALvision Pro features the patented Interfill3D plugin from Addman, introducing the interlock printing strategy to overcome issues and make parts watertight.

Modifiers to distribute weight and infill

Now we go into the more tricky part. We are using our modifiers to spread weight and infill in regions. To hit the proper buoyancy, we needed to distribute the weight differently from front to back. We used a rectangular tilted modifier model that increases the infill percentage to 90%, in the stern of the boat. We generally lowered the infill percentage on the rest of the boat to improve the weight distribution. We added a contour to a total of three shapes (perimeters). A cross-section overlap of 12 % slightly improves the porosity and holding out the water for a while. It is floating but not wholly watertight. Weight: 84 g, Filament usage: 281 cm, Printing time: 4 hours and 48 minutes.

Can you replicate the process and make your benchy float?

Now you have the answer to how we made a benchy float. But there may be other answers. Are you replicating it or finding your way? REALvision Pro is not open-source but built on our core technology. Try our benchy game and win one month of a free trial and see if you can make a benchy float and make your 3D printer better. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help—both for the beginner and the expert user.

Try your luck and win one month of unlimited free use of REALvision Pro basic.

Explaining about filament

In Fused Filament Deposition technology, also known as Fused Filament Fabrication or Fused Deposition Modeling, the spool of filament is the material used to build the 3D part by melting the plastic out of the nozzle of the 3D printer. The printer extrudes the filament line by line, layer by layer, by increasing the z-axis, and will build the 3D printed part.