Printing with a unique font is an excellent way to add meaning to your prints and fully customize them. However, when you add some specific fonts to your 3D models, you might end up with messy edges, stringing, or blobs that fill in the fine details, rendering your message unreadable. So, it’s essential to ensure that you use a font that your printer can render clearly and beautifully.
Here are the 12 best fonts to use for 3D printing:
- Arial Rounded
- Comic Sans
- Varela Round
- VAG Rounded
- Helvetica Rounded
- OpenSCAD Fonts
Fonts, typefaces, sizes, and other 3D printing design elements are as much a creative choice as they are a practical preference. For instance, a nozzle diameter isn’t always ideal for all fonts and sizes. So, here’s a complete guide on the best fonts to use for 3D printing.
1. Arial Rounded
Arial is a popular typeface with a few distinct fonts in its family, including but not limited to the following:
All popular Arial fonts are available in the standard styles, including:
- Extra Bold
While the typeface isn’t specifically for 3D printing, the Arial Rounded font is one of the easiest to print. Arial Rounded is particularly useful whenever you have to 3D print text in a relatively small size. Of course, you can choose regular and bold styles based on your needs.
The most significant advantage of Arial Rounded is the simplicity of the font. There’s no frill, so you don’t have to worry about fidelity loss and extrusion-related problems unless the model’s design, its slicer settings, or the 3D printer hardware has some issues.
Like all other fonts in this guide and whichever else you may try, you need to choose the printing settings to be as conducive for your 3D design as possible. For instance, you must alter the Arial Rounded font size, layer height, and other 3D print settings as necessary for a design.
Osifont is explicitly for CAD and conforms to the ISO 3098 standard. The sans serif font is available for free, and it is compatible with most slicer software. Still, you must confirm if the file format is correct for your 3D printer firmware or slicer.
For instance, Fusion requires the Osifont file to be in .ttf format, not .otf. This issue shouldn’t be a concern if you just check before downloading and installing the files. Besides, the default file format of Osifont is .ttf.
Like Arial Rounded, Osifont doesn’t have frills that can otherwise complicate the 3D printing of letters or text. However, the two fonts are quite different. Osifont looks more like a technical style than a humanist font. That said, the technical lettering design often suits many 3D designs.
Furthermore, the Osifont family supports multiple languages, i.e., script and alphabet, including:
- Basic Latin
- Basic Greek
- Central European
- Western European
I’m not willing to make a sweeping claim, but you’ll likely experience the most negligible fidelity loss with Osifont unless some of your settings are awry. The 3D printed representation of Osifont is often better than that of Arial Rounded and many other fonts in this guide.
Orbitron is undoubtedly one of the best fonts to use for 3D printing. Arial Rounded is a humanist font, whereas Osifont is more technical. You can try this geometric font with no frills if neither suits your design or preference. Also, Orbitron is a free font you can use for 3D printing.
You can use Orbitron in different styles, including the following:
There are other weights, but not all may be available for your slicer. Nonetheless, these four typical styles should serve your purpose.
Orbitron is a slightly larger style than the likes of Osifont. So, a 24-pt size for Osifont looks like the equivalent of a 20-pt Orbitron. This difference warrants adapting the font size and dimensions in a slicer software, whether you go for recessed or raised 3D printed text.
Such differences apply to almost all typefaces or fonts of different families. Rarely is a typeface or its fonts an identical size compared to the equivalent of another family or its styles. Thus, you must always modify the dimensions, which is also essential from the perspective of any design.
Overpass has become very popular in the 3D printing community, whether among enthusiasts or designers monetizing their creations. The typeface has ~200,000 downloads on one site alone, albeit not all those users are 3D printing hobbyists.
Delve Withrington, Dave Bailey, and Thomas Jockin designed Overpass, and Red Hat released the typeface in 2014. The designers were inspired by and interpreted the interstate highway and road signage in the United States. Today, Overpass is free and open-source.
Overpass is appropriate for branding, text as body or description, and other purposes. The font is available in many styles, but only the regular and bold versions may be adequate for most users. Also, Overpass supports a few dozen languages if that’s something you are looking for.
Besides its simplicity, Overpass is an effortlessly readable font, especially for 3D printing. You are probably familiar with the kind of hotchpotch some fonts turn into once a design becomes a tangible 3D printed model. The likelihood of incoherent letters is slim if you use Overpass.
Ubuntu is a contemporary typeface that works well for 3D printing. The representation of this family of fonts isn’t as accurate as you may get with Overpass or Osifont. However, Ubuntu is as good as Orbitron and Arial Rounded.
Here are the main features of the Ubuntu typeface for 3D printing:
- Font Family: Regular, Condensed, Monospace, etc.
- Font Styles: Normal, Thin, Light, Medium, Bold, and Italic.
- Font Size: 16-pt to 48-pt (customizable in slicer settings).
- Language Support: More than 200 native languages.
- Glyph Support: 1,200 glyphs or hieroglyphic characters.
Ubuntu is a TrueType font available as a free and open-source .ttf file. You can use this font with most free or paid slicer software. That said, if or when you try Ubuntu, use its regular font instead of the condensed style, as the latter may mess up your 3D print with the ‘g,’ ‘s,’ etc.
6. Comic Sans
Innumerable users have firm opinions against and in favor of Comic Sans. I don’t recall any font being so divisive over the years despite being widely used for various purposes. Putting aside the extreme views on both sides, Comic Sans has a place in most font libraries.
Here are two fundamental reasons why Comic Sans is one of the best fonts for 3D printing:
- Comic Sans isn’t a serif style, so you don’t have to worry about any clumsy or missing strokes on the 3D printed text, whether embossed or debossed.
- The casual typeface of Comic Sans is a valuable asset when you consider the technical and geometric lettering styles of other fonts deemed suitable for 3D printing.
Not every design looks appealing with technical lettering or geometric shapes as the 3D printed text. None of the fonts I have discussed until now are straightaway playful. Overpass is simple and basic. Ubuntu and the others have distinct characteristics and are unquestionably helpful.
However, some 3D models or designs warrant the cheerfulness of Comic Sans.
7. Varela Round
Still, to successfully print with Varela Round, you must ensure that you incorporate retraction at the right time and place without extruding less or more.
The natural shape of the deposited filament will ensure that the Varela Round font on the design you see on the screen comes out flawlessly.
Varela Round is one of the most popular fonts for 3D printing, designers, website developers, and regular users. You can use the font for free and achieve excellent results with any branded 3D printer and slicer software.
8. VAG Rounded
VAG Rounded isn’t very different from Varela Round, but they aren’t identical. Gerry Barney initially designed this geometric sans serif font for Volkswagen AG. While Volkswagen doesn’t use the font anymore, it is available for free for non-commercial purposes.
Here are some of the features of VAG Rounded:
- Font Styles: Thin, Light, Bold, and Black.
- Language Support: More than 100 languages.
- Glyph Support: ~200 glyphs or hieroglyphic symbols.
- File Formats: OTF and TTF
Check the file format while downloading to ensure you have the correct one for your slicer. Also, pay heed to the ‘S’ and ‘J’ or ‘g’ and ‘f’ combos if they are aligned closely on two lines. A bit of an extrusion, retraction, or spacing issue may spoil an otherwise neat font on your 3D design.
You may hear or read about another similar font, Futura. Like VAG Rounded, Futura has a free version for personal use and a commercial license. However, I would pick Varela Round or VAG Rounded over Futura on any given day.
Univers has been a favored family of fonts for several decades, straddling from apparel typefaces and logos to political messages. Unsurprisingly, Univers is among the better-known sans serif fonts for 3D printing. However, there are a few caveats I must mention here.
While Univers has many styles, its bold version is the most appropriate one for 3D models. A lighter or regular type may not be prominent in small sizes. Still, using the bold style makes this font a bit tricky because you have to worry about the possibility of smudged letters.
Suppose you have to use lower case letters in the Univers bold font. The ‘a,’ ‘e,’ and ‘s’ have an extremely tight curvature, so the strokes may not print as neatly as you will invariably want them to be. Then there is the issue with the ‘g.’ The elaborate swish may turn out like a blob.
If you can avert these problems, the Univers family offers many possibilities. The sheer number of styles, weights, and other attributes makes Univers a haven for designers, albeit you have to pay for its commercial applications.
Montserrat is a double-edged sword among the fonts I have listed in this guide. Comic Sans has fans and critics based on the typeface and its style. In contrast, your reaction to Montserrat will probably be entirely on the actual result of your 3D print.
Although Montserrat is a sans serif font, the curvature of many letters and the unusual strokes don’t always turn out as expected with 3D printing. If you can get them right, the text can look appealing. However, if anything goes wrong, your 3D printed model may be a disappointment.
In other words, I am indecisive about recommending this font, but excluding it from the list would not have been fair.
11. Helvetica Rounded
Helvetica Rounded is a neat font, almost tranquil. The bold version is particularly beneficial, especially if you plan to emboss or recess some text. The fullness of the typeface in its bold style works well without a compulsion to broaden or enlarge the letters to an unusual extent.
Also, Helvetica Rounded doesn’t pose any complications if you have to use lowercase letters. A ‘g,’ ‘j,’ or ‘y’ shouldn’t trouble you much, whether with the slicer or the 3D printer.
12. OpenSCAD Fonts
Last but not least, OpenSCAD fonts are undoubtedly worth exploring for 3D printing. Unlike all the other fonts in this guide, OpenSCAD has a curated list and various customizations for you to try. You can check the previews and modify any style according to your needs and preferences.
Since OpenSCAD fonts are for 3D printing, you don’t have to contemplate suitability and other factors like the abovementioned caveats. Also, working with the fonts already available on OpenSCAD is a cakewalk once you are familiar with the free software.
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I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.