Reducing the Cost of your 3D Print Jobs
Lowering the cost per unit of any print job without any loss in quality is always a great conversation starter with beginner and expert 3D printers alike. Being able to print at reduced cost also means a higher ROI (returns on investment) if your part is meant to be commercial. Now that we’ve got your attention, let’s dig into a handful of tips you can get started with to reduce the cost per part when 3D printing your part.
Print at optimal settings
When reducing cost, a desired constant is the quality of your prints. In order to achieve an optimal output at lower cost, optimizing your design and model is one of the most important steps you can take.
To begin, ensure that you always 3D print with your device settings at optimal. Use your software to dictate the best quality parameters that will produce the highest possible output for your printer type and filament. Printing at the highest quality will not only give you the best print, it will also ensure that you don’t have defects in your prints or clogged nozzles that may require reruns or reprints that will consume more materials, time and consequently, money.
To prevent double, or even triple printing, try to print a smaller model of your design as a test run before firing unto the desired size.
Optimize your design for 3D
Prepare your model in the best possible way to ensure that you can obtain great 3D prints at the first trial. By adhering to 3D print design guidelines, using the right angles, object orientation and wall thickness can help improve the solidity of your print or even eliminate the need for supports. The lesser the supports in your design, the lesser the material needs. Using supports will also impact cost as they need to be removed after printing and also require the surface of your 3D print to be smoothened afterwards. You can prevent the need for support structures in your model by using splitting your 3D model into two smaller parts that will individually require no support and glue together the parts after printing. Also, design your parts with overhang angles that are above 45 degrees.
Finally, when designing your part, also consider what the end-use and functionality involves, cut out unnecessary aesthetics that will consume more material.
Choose the right material and printing technology
There are numerous filaments and printing tech available to conjure your 3D designed parts. Depending on what you want, the product functionality, aesthetics, strength, you will have a range of options from ceramics, metals, plastics, nylon and more. The prices for printing materials vary significantly. While PLA and ABS are the most used plastics, the cost per KG can come in at anything between $19 to $175. The price per KG will also understandably increase the cost per print, so selecting the right material would impact your overall job cost.
Materials like metals and ceramics are generally more expensive and almost certainly impossible to be printed at home with an everyday printer. If you’re looking to work with this type of materials, you’re better off using a 3D printing service offered from suppliers like firstpart.com.
As expected, selecting more affordable materials like PLA will work just fine for a number of applications, but you can expect to lose some other attributes like color quality, glow-in-the-dark or translucency. If you require materials for parts that are likely to encounter more stress, ABS or PETG may be a suitable and affordable option.
Use an Online 3D Printing service
If you’re relatively new to additive manufacturing and 3D printing, online 3D printing services should be a big deal for you. This is because you want to do away with all the equipment setup costs for owning your 3D printer. You are also likely to blow a huge sum of money investing in a process or technology that might not be optimal for you.
If you are machining materials like ceramics or metals, the manufacturing technique and power required will simply be too much for you to setup. Online 3D printing services are well versed with a wide array of materials and part functions. Most of these websites have years of experience and professionals that will help you optimize your design. Because of the volume of work at their disposal, 3D printing services can afford to run a small, one-off project for you without worrying about economics of scale, overheads and material waste.
Print more units of your part
Printing more volume of your part will help you to spread the cost of production over more units of your product. If you have a need for more than one item, ensure that your design is well optimized and use an online 3D printing service to produce more units.
Most online printing services are usually discount ready and willing to offer batch or group discounts for printing a certain number of parts in a go.
Bigger doesn’t mean better
Bigger parts will logically consume more materials. If you can afford to scale down your 3D print, then do. Printing real-life sized objects may not be realistic or functional while using 3D printers as the risk of failure and material waste exists. If you are simply prototyping with 3D printing, you may consider reducing the size of your part, but if size really does matter, you may want to consider using online 3D printing services like Firstpart to deliver high quality parts at a cost-effective rate.
You can also save cost by lowering the rate of infill used wherever possible. The logic here is to lower material consumption when structure and texture is not a major concern for your part. But when you don’t need to make 100 percent solid parts, reducing the percentage infill will help you minimize material use and optimize print speed.
Consider your finish
Professional finishes for 3D printed parts are usually done manually and often involves some form of labor cost. Depending on your needs, you may want to stick with the default finish that comes with your part as soon as it is printed (especially for prototypes). This will help you lower the total landing cost of the project. If you really need to polish the appearance of your part, consider cheaper post-processing techniques that won’t add significantly to the cost of your part.
Hollow your prints
Unless your design requires a 100 percent solid form, you can save lots of material by making your design hollow. Hollow designs usually have relatively complex design that allows the structure to remain stable and supported. Be careful when doing this as using a wall thickness too thin may affect the physical integrity of your part.
FirstPart 3D Printing Services in China
As one of the top manufacturers in China, we encourage you to try out our high-quality online 3D printing service solutions and get started with your first 3D project. Our engineers are available to help with a free quote and design evaluation. Depending on the nature of your project, you will typically receive your quote in a number of hours as well as several suggestions on how to optimize your end part. FirstPart also provides stringent quality control evaluations and super-efficient logistics that guarantees that you receive your 3D printed objects, produced to specifications as desired, quick, intact and most importantly, affordably.
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