3D Print Chainmail: Ultimate Guide


The world of 3D printing has evolved to encompass not just prototypes and models but also functional and elaborate creations. In this realm, 3D print chainmail emerges as a unique fusion of traditional artistry and cutting-edge technology. This article is designed to escort both enthusiasts and innovators on the thrilling adventure of 3D print chainmail, guiding them from the initial idea to the final product.

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has revolutionized how we create and conceive physical objects. Its application in creating chainmail, a series of interlocking rings typically used for armor, opens a new chapter in both historical replication and innovative design. This guide will take you through the essentials of 3D printing chainmail, including choosing the right printer, selecting the best materials, designing your piece, and the post-processing techniques to bring your creation to life.

As an enthusiast and advisor in the field of 3D printing, I have gathered insights and tips to make your venture into 3D printed chainmail both successful and enjoyable. Whether you are looking to create decorative pieces, cosplay elements, or even explore its practical applications, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need.

In the next sections, we will delve into understanding 3D printed chainmail, preparing for your project, the step-by-step printing process, and much more. Let’s embark on this creative journey together!

Understanding 3D Printed Chainmail

Before diving into the printing process, it’s important to understand what chainmail is and how 3D printing enhances its creation. Historically, chainmail was made by hand, linking thousands of metal rings to form a flexible, protective mesh. Today, 3D printing allows for the creation of chainmail with various materials, offering new possibilities in design and application.

3D print chainmail entails creating a series of interlinked rings or comparable structures in one continuous printing session. This approach sidesteps the conventional, time-consuming method of manually assembling the rings. The advantage of 3D print chainmail is not only in time-saving but also in enabling more complex and detailed designs that previously were challenging or unattainable with traditional techniques.

Applications of 3D printed chainmail extend beyond historical reenactments or armors. They include fashion, functional textiles, and even architectural elements. The flexibility and adaptability of the material make it suitable for a wide range of innovative uses.

Preparing for 3D Printing Chainmail

Preparing for 3D Printing Chainmail

To successfully 3D print chainmail, preparation is key. This involves two crucial steps: choosing the right 3D printer and selecting suitable filaments. Both steps are essential to ensure that your final product meets the desired quality, durability, and functionality.

Choosing the Right 3D Printer

When it comes to 3D printing chainmail, the choice of printer can make a significant difference in the outcome. Here’s what to consider:

  • High Resolution and Precision: Look for printers that offer high resolution and precision. This is crucial for creating the intricate details of each chainmail link without losing clarity or quality.
  • Printer Reliability: Choose a printer known for its reliability. 3D printing chainmail can be a time-consuming process, and consistent performance is key to avoid print failures.
  • Build Volume: Consider the size of the chainmail pieces you plan to print. Ensure the printer’s build volume can accommodate your projects.
  • Material Compatibility: Ensure the printer is compatible with the types of filaments suitable for chainmail, such as TPU and PLA.

Selecting Suitable Filaments

The filament you choose will directly impact the quality and functionality of the chainmail. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Flexibility and Durability: Chainmail requires a balance between flexibility and strength. Materials like TPU are excellent for creating chainmail that is both durable and flexible.
  • Type of Filament:
    • TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane): Ideal for flexible and durable chainmail. It’s great for pieces that require movement, like wearable chainmail.
    • PLA (Polylactic Acid): A more rigid option compared to TPU, suitable for decorative chainmail. Some PLA types offer a balance of flexibility and strength.
  • End-Use Considerations:
    • For wearable chainmail, prioritize filaments that are comfortable against the skin and offer flexibility.
    • For decorative items, look for filaments that offer a good finish and color options.
  • Environmental Factors: Some filaments, like PLA, are more environmentally friendly, being biodegradable. This might be a consideration if sustainability is a priority.
  • Ease of Printing: Different filaments have varying printing requirements. TPU, for instance, might require a printer with a direct drive extruder for optimal results, whereas PLA is generally easier to print with and is more forgiving of printer variations.

Final Thoughts

The combination of the right printer and filament is crucial for successful 3D printing of chainmail. It’s important to balance the technical requirements with the intended use of the chainmail to ensure the best outcome. With careful selection and preparation, you can create chainmail pieces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional and durable.

Designing Chainmail: Software and Tools

Designing Chainmail: Software and Tools

The design phase is critical in the 3D printing of chainmail. It involves using specialized software to model the chainmail and then preparing the 3D printer for the task. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Recommended Design Software

Choosing the right software is crucial for designing intricate chainmail patterns:

  • Blender: A powerful, free open-source 3D modeling tool. Ideal for those with some experience in 3D modeling.
  • Tinkercad: An easy-to-use, web-based program perfect for beginners. It offers a more simplified and intuitive approach to 3D design.
  • Fusion 360: A professional-grade software offering advanced features. It’s great for more complex designs but has a steeper learning curve.

Each of these programs offers unique features and tools to cater to different skill levels and design needs. They also come with communities and resources, like tutorials and forums, which can be invaluable for beginners and experts alike.

Design Considerations for Chainmail

When designing chainmail, there are several factors to consider:

  • Ring Size and Shape: The size and shape of the rings will determine the flexibility and appearance of the chainmail. Smaller rings may offer more flexibility but can be more challenging to print.
  • Interlocking Mechanism: The rings should interlock smoothly without getting entangled. Test the design digitally to ensure the links move freely.
  • Material Thickness: The thickness of the filament used for each ring is crucial. Too thin, and the chainmail may be fragile; too thick, and it might lose flexibility.
  • Design Complexity: Consider the capabilities of your printer. Overly complex designs might not translate well into physical prints.

Step-by-Step Guide to 3D Printing Chainmail

Preparing the 3D Printer

Proper preparation of the 3D printer ensures a higher success rate:

  1. Calibration: Ensure the printer is accurately calibrated for precise prints.
  2. Leveling the Print Bed: A level bed is crucial for even printing, particularly for the first few layers.

Detailed Printing Steps

  1. Load Design: Import your chainmail design into the printer’s software.
  2. Configure Print Settings:
    • Layer Height: Lower layer heights can yield smoother links.
    • Infill: Adjust based on the desired strength and flexibility.
    • Print Speed: Find a balance between speed and quality. Too fast may compromise detail.
  3. Start the Print: Begin printing and monitor the initial layers closely. The first few layers are critical for the overall stability of the print.
  4. Post-Printing: Once complete, carefully remove the chainmail from the print bed. Be gentle to avoid damaging the links.

Post-Processing of 3D Printed Chainmail

After the 3D printing of chainmail is complete, post-processing steps can significantly enhance the quality and functionality of the final product. Here are key aspects to consider:

Cleaning and Smoothing

The freshly printed chainmail might have some rough edges or support materials that need removal.

  • Removing Supports: Carefully remove any support material used during printing. This step requires delicacy to avoid damaging the links.
  • Smoothing Techniques: If the surface of the chainmail feels rough, several methods can be used to smooth it out.
    • Using a Heat Gun: Gently apply heat to lightly melt the surface, which can smooth out imperfections. Be cautious with the temperature to avoid deforming the chainmail.
    • Sanding: For materials like PLA, light sanding can help smooth the surface.
    • Chemical Smoothing: Certain filaments, like ABS, can be smoothed with specific chemicals. However, this requires proper safety measures and ventilation.

Strengthening the Chainmail

Enhancing the durability of the chainmail is especially important for wearable or functional pieces.

  • Applying Sealants or Glues: Use a flexible sealant or glue to reinforce the joints of the chainmail. This can prevent the links from separating under stress.
  • Considerations for Wearables: For chainmail meant to be worn, ensure that the strengthening method does not compromise flexibility or comfort.

Best 3D Printers for Chainmail

Best 3D Printers for Chainmail

Choosing the right printer is essential for achieving the best results in 3D printed chainmail.

Top Printers for Detail and Durability

  1. Prusa i3 MK3S: Known for its reliability and excellent print quality, suitable for detailed chainmail.
  2. Ultimaker S3: Offers high resolution and a larger build volume, ideal for larger chainmail pieces.
  3. Ender 3 V2: A more budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise much on quality.

Cost and Availability

  • The cost of these printers varies, so it’s important to align your choice with your budget.
  • Availability can also be a factor, depending on your location and shipping options.

Choosing the Right Filaments

Choosing the Right Filaments

The choice of filament can greatly affect the characteristics of the finished chainmail.

Types of Filaments Suitable for Chainmail

  1. TPU: Highly flexible and durable, perfect for wearable chainmail.
  2. PLA: Easier to print with but less flexible than TPU. Good for decorative chainmail.
  3. ABS: Offers strength but requires higher printing temperatures and good ventilation.

Pros and Cons of Each Type

  • TPU: While flexible and durable, it can be more challenging to print, requiring specific printer settings.
  • PLA: User-friendly and versatile but less durable compared to TPU or ABS.
  • ABS: Offers great strength but necessitates a well-ventilated printing environment and precise temperature control.

3D Printed Chainmail on Prusa MK4

Advanced Techniques in 3D Printing Chainmail

Gaining expertise in 3D print chainmail requires more than just grasping the fundamentals; it also involves delving into advanced techniques and tackling the typical challenges associated with this process.

Overcoming Common Challenges

  • Dealing with Stringing and Oozing:
    • Retraction Settings: Adjust the printer’s retraction settings to minimize stringing.
    • Print Temperature: Fine-tuning the print temperature can reduce oozing, which affects the quality of the chainmail.
  • Ensuring Link Flexibility:
    • Design Testing: Experiment with different link designs to find the optimal balance between flexibility and strength.
    • Infill Settings: Adjusting the infill percentage can impact the flexibility of the chainmail.

Innovative Printing Techniques

  • Varying Link Shapes: Experiment with different link shapes to create unique textures and flexibility levels. This can lead to innovative chainmail designs.
  • Dual Extrusion Printers: Utilize printers with dual extrusion capabilities to print chainmail using multiple materials. This allows for varying the material properties within a single piece, such as having rigid and flexible parts.

Tips and Tricks for Efficient Printing

Efficient printing is crucial for creating quality chainmail in a reasonable timeframe.

Efficient printing is crucial for creating quality chainmail in a reasonable timeframe.

  1. Optimize Print Speed:
    • Balancing speed and quality is key. Faster printing can save time but might reduce the detail and integrity of the links.
    • Test different speeds to find the best setting for your specific design.
  2. Regular Maintenance:
    • Regularly clean and lubricate your printer to maintain consistent print quality.
    • Check for any wear and tear and replace parts as necessary to avoid print failures.

Applications of 3D Printed Chainmail

The diverse applications of 3D printed chainmail showcase its versatility.

  • Fashion: Incorporate chainmail into clothing designs for a unique, futuristic look.
  • Cosplay: Create detailed, lightweight armor or costumes for enhanced realism with ease of movement.
  • Practical Uses: Utilize chainmail for protective gear or in innovative textiles where durability and flexibility are needed.

Cost Analysis and Budgeting

Understanding the costs involved in chainmail printing is crucial for budgeting.

  • Filament Cost: Consider the type and quality of filament, as prices vary.
  • Printer Wear and Tear: Account for the maintenance and potential part replacements over time.
  • Electricity Usage: Longer print jobs consume more electricity, adding to the cost.
  • Budget-Friendly Tips:
    • Look for deals on bulk filament purchases.
    • Consider smaller projects or optimizing your design for material efficiency.

Budget-Friendly Tips: Look for bulk filament deals or consider smaller-scale projects to save costs.

Safety Considerations

Safety should always be a priority when working with 3D printers and materials.

Safety should always be a priority when working with 3D printers and materials.

  • Handling the Printer: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to operate the printer safely.
  • Material Safety: Ensure good ventilation when printing with materials that emit fumes, or opt for safer filament types.

Future of 3D Printed Chainmail

The future of 3D printed chainmail is exciting, with potential advancements in materials and printing technologies paving the way for even more innovative applications and designs. The field is evolving, bringing new possibilities for both creators and users of chainmail.


3D print chainmail combines traditional craftsmanship with modern technology, presenting an innovative approach to crafting detailed designs that were previously achievable only through extensive manual effort. This method serves artistic, practical, and historical applications, making the design and creation process of chainmail a fulfilling endeavor. Equipped with the appropriate tools, materials, and a dash of creativity, the potential for what can be achieved is limitless. I urge all, from amateurs to experts, to delve into the intriguing realm of 3D print chainmail.


  1. What is the best filament for 3D printing chainmail?
    TPU is often recommended for its flexibility and durability, making it ideal for wearable chainmail.
  2. How long does it take to print a piece of chainmail?
    The time varies depending on the size and complexity of the design, but it can range from several hours to days.
  3. Can 3D printed chainmail be used for protective gear?
    Yes, with the right design and material, 3D printed chainmail can be used for protective purposes, though it may not offer the same level of protection as traditional metal chainmail.
  4. How do I maintain my 3D printer for chainmail printing?
    Regular maintenance includes keeping the printer clean, lubricating moving parts, and ensuring the firmware is up to date.
  5. Are there any safety concerns with 3D printing chainmail?
    Yes, ensure proper ventilation when printing with certain filaments and always follow safety guidelines for operating 3D printers.


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Catherine Reed

Hello! I'm Catherine, a passionate explorer of the innovative world of 3D printing. Over the years, I've delved deep into the intricacies of additive manufacturing, understanding both its vast potential and the nuances that come with it. On this website, I aim to share my experiences, insights, and the latest advancements in the field. Whether you're a fellow enthusiast or someone just starting your journey, I hope my work sparks your curiosity and inspires you to push the boundaries of what's possible!

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