3D printing is growing and spreading across virtually every industry you can imagine. As this happens, reducing the cost to maximize ROI is becoming more and more of a focus. Although there are ways to cut costs indiscriminately, these guidelines will help you to cut your 3D printing costs without sacrificing print quality.
Every little feature that is included in a design matters for 3D printing because of the amount of material needed. Because of this, it is recommended to cut down on these by creating designs with looks similar to a honeycomb or matrix. By doing this, the holes reduce the infill of the object being printed, ultimately resulting in a lighter, cheaper finished product. Bear in mind that these holes don’t have to be circular either, they can be of any geometric shape. Another option would be to hollow out your design to cut material use; the money you save will depend upon your wall thickness.
In order to reduce material in a 3D print job, the modeling process must first be looked at. Using overhangs steeper than 45 degree typically requires a support to avoid collapse. This requires more material use, so the less supports the better. This will also eliminate the need for any post-processing time and costs (i.e. sanding).
- Print a smaller test model to ensure design is sound and print parameters are correct
- Ensure that your materials are strong enough for the object’s desired use by printing a test piece
If surface finish isn’t a major factor in your desired result, thickening the layer height of the 3D print job can both cut costs and print time. According to Megan Ray Nichols, “Typical layer heights used will depend on the material and process. Don’t go outside the recommended parameters for your selected printing method. In designs that require precision, don’t increase the layer height. Make it as small as possible. Where you don’t need interconnecting parts or perfect products, raising the layer height makes it easier to print faster. This choice gets your printing done sooner, which usually increases your ROI.”
Size Doesn’t Matter
If you can go smaller, go smaller because it will save you time and money. For many prototyping jobs, a scaled-down prototype is just as satisfactory as a full-sized one. With a scaled-down prototype, users can still check to make sure the color, material, resolution, functionality and surface finish of their part.
The amount of materials used is a huge cost factor in 3D printing. If material type doesn’t matter, it is recommended to use PLA or ABS plastics. For most 3D printers, 3D print jobs typically have some material waste at the end of the job. Markforged has actually eliminated material waste entirely in their revolutionary line of 3D printers. Selecting the right material is a crucial decision to make in the 3D printing process.
3D Printing: Taking Over Manufacturing
Although still a relatively new technology, 3D printing is growing fast and has spread immensely across the globe.The return on investment for 3D printers is far outmatches that of traditional production methods. In addition to this, 3D printing reduces costs, time and labor while increasing workflows, providing an “on-demand” inventory and often times, providing more accurate end results.