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5 Tips to Save Money Using a 3D Printing Service

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It’s no secret that 3D printing services are more expensive than ownership. However, for businesses and organisations, using a cheap 3D printing service is a viable option to avoid CapEx limitations. In this article, we’ll give tips and tricks to help you save money on your next 3D printing project, answer questions surrounding the cheapest methods and also breakdown manufacturing costs. 

Five Tips to Save Money

1. Hollow Your Model

This sounds really simple, but for processes like SLA & SLS where you’re charged per CM3 of volume. Large, dense models can be expensive to print. If the model is under low-loading, non-functional conditions, we recommend hollowing out your part to 1.5 – 3.0mm wall thickness (depending on geometry).

Removing this internal material will help reduce not only your cost but also unnecessary weight as well. We’ve found customers have been able to reduce their costs by up to 182% in some instances! 

2. Reduce Infill Percentage

This is another really simple tool to help with cost savings with FDM parts. Please note, this doesn’t apply to SLA & SLS as parts are printed 100% solid as default unless modelled with an infill. 

To change the specified infill on your part, you can do this in our instant quote tool by selecting ‘advanced’ settings. From here you can define the infill on your part, with the default set at 20%. As a rule of thumb we recommend the following infill settings:

  • 20% for prototypes and aesthetic models
  • 50% for functional parts with increased strength
  • 100% (solid) for functional parts requiring maximum strength properties

3. Reduce Size / Scale of Your Part

This tip won’t apply to everyone looking to use a cheap 3D printing service. However, we recommend this for users printing aesthetic / decorative pieces who have a budget in mind. Could your piece be 25% smaller, without impacting the quality?

If you’re unsure on how to change the size or scale of your parts, please contact us and our expert technicians will be able to help scale your model free of charge.

4. Reduce Layer Height & Resolution

Our cheap 3D printing service uses two different levels of resolution or quality for FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling)

For quick prototypes, requiring a good level of finish we recommend using our standard layer height of 200 microns (0.2mm) and for detailed models / miniatures we recommend using our high-quality 100 microns (0.1mm) setting.

5. Pack Parts

This tip is more difficult to implement unless you have access to 3D design software or packages like Autodesk Netfabb or Materialise Magics. Please note, this only applies to SLS as this process doesn’t require support structures like FDM or SLA.

This process can either be done manually (not recommended) or using automatic 3D packing tools. We recommend helping to balance cost and also quality by setting the minimum gap between parts as 2.5mm. Any closer than this and you run the risk of quality defects and the parts potentially fusing together. 

Start Printing Now

Explore our instant quote tool, where you can easily upload parts and get a price in a matter of seconds! 

How Much Does it Cost To Have Someone 3D Print For You?

When using a cheap 3D printing service, parts can cost anywhere from £1 an hour to print for PLA & PETG, up to £35 an hour to print for more exotic materials such as PEEK & ULTEM. Our instant quote costing system takes into account material volume (CM3), layer height, material difficulty and level of supports required. 

Intamsys-FDM-3D-Printer

What is the Cheapest 3D Printing Method?

The cheapest 3D printing method, depending on the material selected, is FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling). Raw material costs can be as little as £15 a kg for this manufacturing process, compared to £100+ a kg for SLA & SLS 3D printing methods. This process uses wire-fed stock material and is extruded through a small nozzle, for more information regarding this process, please check out our guide

How Much Does 3D Printing Cost Per Hour?

When using a cheap 3D printing service, parts can cost anywhere from £1 an hour to print for PLA & PETG, up to £35 an hour to print for more exotic materials such as PEEK & ULTEM. This value takes into account CapEx, machine depreciation, material costs, energy costs, labour costs and a small error margin.

Cheap 3D Printing Service SLS Parts

If you’d like to know more about our 3D printing service, please be sure to check out these useful pages below:

3D Printing – The Experts Guide 

FDM 3D Printing 

SLA 3D Printing

SLS 3D Printing 

Do you have a 3D printing project we can help with? Please get in touch

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Sam Gribben

Managing Director at SGD 3D Limited

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