The #1 Hack to Make Your 3D Print Cheaper (Part 1)

For all who are new to 3D Printing, Rapid Prototyping and Additive Fabrication in general
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AnetLau
Posts: 816
Joined: 2020-06-24 1:56

Cutting down costs for 3D prints is the number one concern for many customers. In order to achieve this, we need to understand how costs for 3D prints are calculated. Probably the most important variable is the amount of material that is needed for printing your object. So all we need to do is to make sure to use as little material as possible. Down-sizing the object? Nope, hollowing it out like a pro!

Save money: don’t use material where you don’t need it!


The pricing for most 3D printing materials is volume-based. The less material you use, the less it will cost you. This means a hollow model will be cheaper than a solid one. For some 3D printing materials, hollowing your object will also avoid deformations.


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Hollow 3D print. Save money using less 3D printing material


However, creating a 3D model with an empty interior can be a bit tricky: you need to know how to hollow your model in the 3D modeling software you’re using, you need to define a wall thickness that is strong enough for your model not to break, and it probably makes sense to add so-called ‘escape holes’ to your model. So let’s take a look at these things a step at a time.


Reduce costs: create a hollow 3D model & 3D print.


A hollow model means that the interior of your object will not be solid. Solid designs are not necessarily a problem – depending on the material they will be stronger and harder to break, but they will also be more expensive as more 3D printing material will be used.

With a hollow model the interior of your print will be empty. However, since our printers print layer by layer, 3D printing material can get trapped in the interior of your model as you can see in the image in the middle below. If you would like to avoid this, you can add ‘escape holes’ to your design. Material that is not used for building your 3D print can then be removed.


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Are the walls thick enough for a hollow model?


Creating a hollow model means that you need to design your object with ‘walls’. A printer needs to know how thick the walls of your objects (the ‘outer shell’ if you will) are supposed to be. We don’t have a single, ‘one-size-fits-all’ wall thickness to recommend for each and every 3D printing material. Some, like HD Stainless Steel and Titanium, can go quite fine with minimum wall thicknesses of 0.3 mm and 0.4 mm, while most of our materials range somewhere in between 1 and 3 mm.


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Maybe you are thinking about saving some money by pushing the wall thickness to the minimum. That’s only logical since this means that less material will be used and the print will be cheaper. However, think about the fact that making walls too thin can make your model too fragile and might cause parts of it to break off.


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