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How To Reduce Your 3D Printing Cost

3 min read
stl files for 3d printing

3D printing is the most cost-effective and the fastest way to produce parts of a prototype or a complete prototype. You can also create your favorite superhero helmet or costume using STL files for 3D printing. The cost of printing depends on the amount of material and manufacturing time. Is there any way to further reduce the cost of creating cool designs using STL files for 3D printing? 

 

In this article, you will learn how to save on your 3D printing.

Factors Affecting the Cost of 3D Printing

Material

The cost depends on the amount and type of material. Try to reduce the amount of FDM filament or SLA resin used in the process.

Part Volume

Creating larger parts is always costly as you need more material and time to print.

Post Processing

After completing the print, you need to do additional manual work to finish the print. There are additional costs of cleaning, powder removal, sanding etc.

The cost to set up 3D printing is very small. This method is the most economical when you are printing lower volumes. However, when it comes to printing higher volumes, 3D printing becomes less price competitive than injection molding and CNC machining. 

When the cost becomes a problem, use FDM filament. It is cheaper than SLS powder or SLA resins. 3D printed objects created using FDM filaments are partly hollow. As a result, your design uses less material.

Scale Down

If the size is not an important consideration then you can greatly decrease the cost by scaling down the 3D model. Keep in mind that the volume of a 10 X 10 X 10 cube is twice the volume of an 8 X 8 X 8 cube. You have to make a small change in the size and this will reduce the volume by 50%. Your model will use less material and save more money. 

You can use a free version of 3D printing software to scale down your model. After you have scaled it, save your model and upload the design for printing. 

Hollow Out 

If a fully solid model is not a requirement, you can save money by hollowing it out. FDM 3D printers create semi-hollow objects. On the other hand, material jetting, SLS and other technologies do not automatically produce partly hollow objects. If the original model is not hollow, you will get a 100% solid object. You can download and install 3D printing software that allows you to select the wall thickness for the 3D model. 2 mm thick wall is safe for 3D printing. Adding escape holes helps in removing excess material after the object is printed. A location that is not normally visible is good for adding escape holes. The base is one such location. If you are using SLS, add at least two escape holes with a minimum diameter of 5 mm. Depending on the model and setting, you can reduce the volume even by 75%. It takes only a few minutes to edit and you can easily reduce your 3D printing cost. 

Eliminate Support Structure

Support structures can increase your 3D printing cost. In FDM 3D printing, parts with overhangs require support. However, a model with a support structure consumes more material. Moreover, you have to smoothen the surface after removing the support structure. This requires additional post-processing. You can reduce your FDM 3D printing cost by eliminating support structures.  

Following are the two options for eliminating support structure: 

  • Overhang angles
  • Splitting your 3D model 

3D printing is already a cost-effective technique for creating 3D models. You simply need Star Trek STL files to create your favorite Star Trek 3D model. Download STL files for 3D printing online and print your 3D model now! 

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