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Ways to make 3D prints cheaper

No matter what a 3D print costs, it cannot hurt to get it cheaper. Fortunately, with a few simple steps, you can often get much cheaper 3D prints.

Saving print material

In most cases, the easiest way to get a cheaper 3D print will be to reduce material consumption. This can often be done, and often with a surprisingly large saving.

Hollowing out the 3D model

The easiest way to get a cheaper 3D print is often simply to hollow out your 3D model. Often the 3D print will be of the same high quality, even if it has been hollowed out - you choose the wall thickness yourself, after all. When hollowing out a 3D model for 3D printing, there are some things that are important to keep in mind. First, one must preserve the integrity of the 3D model. So, it is not enough to just make a hole in the model - one must also make an interior for the model now that it is hollow. Also, one must make sure that the wall thickness corresponds to the minimum wall thickness of the material one wants to print in, in order to maintain the strength and functionality of the 3D print while making it cheaper. Finally, keep in mind that during the production of the 3D print, support material will be placed in the cavity. When the 3D print is finished, this has to get out. Therefore there must be escape holes in the 3D model - e.g. in the bottom to keep them out of sight.

Optimizing the surface of the 3D print

Sometimes it will not be possible to hollow out a 3D model. But there may very well still be material and money to be saved anyway. By thinking about how to solve the job of the 3D printing smarter, one can save material. One solution is to replace solid surfaces with meshes (also called Voronoi mesh), which are usually strong enough but use much less material and therefore make 3D prints correspondingly cheaper.

Print smaller

A cube with sides 1 cm long has a volume of 1 cubic centimeter. However, if you double the length of its sides, its volume will not be 2 but 8 cubic centimeters. The conclusion: if a 3D model is scaled up just a little bit, measured on side lengths, it will have a big effect on its volume. Therefore, you can achieve big savings on your 3D print if you can scale down your 3D model just a little.

Choose a cheap material

If you do not have the opportunity to optimize your 3D model as described above (or just want to save more money), then one of the easy options to get a cheaper 3D print is to simply choose a different material. Fortunately, even the cheapest materials for 3D printing are of very high quality, as long as the 3D printer is. An example is our material Nylon 12 printed on HP's Multi Jet Fusion, which is both cheap and of very high quality.

Visualize instead of printing

Depending on what you are going to use your 3D print for, you may want to consider visualizing it instead. Depending on the product, it can be a much cheaper way to get over the finish line if you can do without a physical 3D print. A 3D visualization also has other advantages over 3D printing if the application is as a visual prototype. However, it must be said that there is nothing that beats a physical model for getting a feeling of the shape of a design.


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