Dec - 2014

Spyder Byte – Bridging Techniques


Spyder 3D World is all about sharing and Spyder Bytes is your solution destination for new tips, tricks and techniques to improve your 3D printing experience. We are excited to spotlight Mark Leonard and his “learned-the-hard” way techniques to perfect bridging. With these tips you can bridge across the entire printing bed.

Got a special fix that you want to share? Tell us about it at info@spyder3d.com


Bridging is one of the more complex processes in 3d printing. Designing for bridging based on specific printer characteristics can help eliminate many of the headaches associated with bridging. In this tutorial we will be focusing on making bristles for a brush using bridging. This technique is courtesy of Mark Leonard.



slic3r widthIn the slicer settings, set the extrusion width to the diameter of the nozzle. This step may not be necessary depending on the slicer’s ability to select the proper extrusion width when using the auto extrusion feature. The nozzle width that you set is what you should use as your design width for each bristle when you make your design. We recommend a rectangular shape rather then a round or ellipse fiber.


The height of the fiber should be set to the desired print layer height. The thick layer heights will result in thicker bristles/fibers.



end_platformIt is best to have an end platform offset from the design object for the bridges to connect once the desired fiber length is achieved. Otherwise, the fibers/bristles of the paintbrush would sag into one another and are more likely to become attached to the extruder nozzle.



bristle_staggerStaggering each fiber column rather then having one on top of the other proved to yield better results than printing each fiber above one another. It is best to have a fiber width and height distance from one another. For example, since the fibers we were printing was .4 mm x .2 mm, each fiber column was printed .4 mm away from the next and each fiber row was printed .2 mm away from the next.



To avoid shrinkage and cracking as a result of large ABS parts cooling too rapidly, we suggest that you only use fans during the bridging process with this type of filament. Settings that control when the fans are operational can be configured in most modern slicer programs.

PLA requires a fan to get any bridge. 230° will cause sagging if there is no fan, so for PLA fan is a must.
Our Cartesian printers yielded the best results with minimal sagging and great adhesion – even without a fan – at 20 mm/s at 240°C for ABS filaments.


Z-lift allows for the extruder head to lift while it travels to avoid damaging the print. Retraction pulls the filament back up the extruder so it does not expel any plastic as the printer head travels. We successfully printed straight, clean bridges by setting z-lift to 2-3 mm and retraction to 1-2 mm.



We used the bridging technique to print the Dream Catcher. Raised shapes inside the hoop act as platforms for the bridged strands of the dream catcher’s net.


The stems of these hearts are fibers that have been bridged between the heart balloons and the box. Because of the flexibility of the bridged fiber, the heart balloons wobble and sway when you shake the box.


The stems of these hearts are fibers that have been bridged between the heart balloons and the box. Because of the flexibility of the bridged fiber, the heart balloons wobble and sway when you shake the box.Weaving this intricate spoke pattern was not an easy task, but we managed to pull it off. The key to success for this print was actively managing the temperatures during the bridging process.


Born on the West Coast, raised in Oklahoma and now residing in Orlando, Mark Leonard worked as a professional chef before his artistic side took his life in a new direction. He always considered himself an artist, and working for Aztec Scenic Design allowed him to express his creativity to produce beautiful treatments for beautiful homes. He was also an inventor and a tinkerer. He first started using 3D printing at home to bring to life the creatures and contraptions in his imagination.


Notable 3D printing fails: Fails are the natural process of learning and there were many, many fails along the way. Each fail increased my knowledge and my ability to troubleshoot issues.

Most memorable make: My first multi part design/print. It was a Christmas gift for my mother.

Biggest 3D printing challenge: Keeping track of hundreds of prints strewn all over the Aztec shop while at the same time 3D modeling and printing hundreds of more files!

What would you like to see in the future of 3D printing? Why share what you’ve learned: The open source community gave me a foundation in 3D printing. Sharing my refinement of the bridging technique is my contribution back to the community.

View Mark Leonard’s designs and leave him a comment HERE 

Technology Behind the Art

More than 20 years ago, Gabriel Collazo was painting amusement park attractions when someone introduced him to the art of ceiling treatments. He learned the business from the inside out and soon opened Aztec Scenic Design, providing creative, one-of-a-kind ceiling treatments work for multi-million dollar homes in Florida.

As the business grew, so did Gabriel’s need for artists. He sought people with artistic talent but more importantly, who were engaging and would be fun to work with.

The 3D printing industry was started by people building things in their garages. This is a community of sharing, and it has taught me so much. Sharing these techniques is my way of giving back. – Mark Leonard

Nearly 12 years ago, he met Mark Leonard, a multi-talented creative personality who counted chef, inventor and artist among his interests. He was also a technophile. Mark’s creativity flourished at Aztec, and the inventor side of him knew there must be a better way to sculpt the custom ceiling treatments they created every day. Seeing a 3D printer in action provided the ‘ah-hah’ moment that would change the way Aztec would do business. With 3D printing, Aztec could use technology to expand the art they could create for clients.

It took considerable trial and error before Mark found the right methods to model and print the multi-dimensional pieces of the intricate ceiling designs. Two years ago, 3D printing became an integral part of Aztec’s business. 3D printing offers two key opportunities for Aztec — models to show clients before they commit to expensive work and expanding the custom multi-dimensional designs that are printed and brought to life with paint and finishing work by Aztec’s team of talented artists.

This collaboration shows just how much 3D printing has a place in the most unexpected applications. And there are homes in Florida that have the ceilings to prove it.

Video: Bridging Time Lapse

Shot from deep within the confines of the Spyder 3D World lab, this video gives you an up-close perspective of the bridging process in action.

Aztec Scenic: 3D Printed Ceiling

This intricate ceiling design was created with 3D design software. Hundreds of individual parts were sliced into 3D printable pieces. Once printed, the pieces were cataloged, reassembled into sections and prepared for final finish. This video documents the entire process – from the original concept phase, to the final install.

More Videos:

Aztec Scenic Design on YouTube

Aztec Scenic Design on Vimeo

Previous Article

Get Great Scans With This Customized Turntable

Next Article

Fiber Bridging Techniques by Mark Leonard

There are no comments.