Today, we rolled out a referral program for our community to help others start making on Shapeways. That means that a whole new group of community members will soon be joining us, and they’ll all have one thing in common: they’ll want to make their models as inexpensively as possible. Lowering the cost of printing your own models isn’t rocket science, but it does require some insider know-how. Check out these three tips for making your 3D prints more cost-effective:
1. Make your design smaller and thinner
Jewelry starts out small, so scaling down designs there might not make sense. But, there are plenty of other designs which can be reduced in scale and wall thickness without making your finished product unusable. Think: turning a porcelain coffee mug into an espresso cup. Or, when prototyping in plastic. Strong & Flexible Plastic is our most popular material for makers, and it can be perfect for prototyping designs in a smaller scale, inexpensively, in anticipation of later printing them at full scale in other materials like porcelain or metal. Whether you’re prototyping or creating a finished product, scaling your design down has an exponential effect on material used. Just scaling a 4cm cube down by 50% decreases material usage by 90%. Trust us, it works.
2. Hollow it out
If you don’t want to scale it down, hollowing out a model will also reduce the amount of printing material you’re paying for. Plus, if you’re able to leave an opening of at least 40mm, you can save even more money by providing space for us to print other designs inside your model. We have some pretty nifty ways of fitting models into builds to reduce cost.
3. Make it easier for us to print
Labor costs can impact the price of your 3D prints. This cost varies by material. So, the first step might be choosing a material, like full color sandstone or frosted ultra detail, that has a minimal labor cost and allows multiple parts per file to be printed for a single cost. If you’re printing in Strong & Flexible plastics, which prices prints per part, you can reduce the number of parts your model actually contains by looping or sintershelling your models. To find out how, see this detailed tutorial.
For more detailed info on making your prints cost less, check out these tutorials. Don’t be afraid to test out these methods, or create your own. Do you have a way to make your 3D prints cheaper that we didn’t cover above? Let us know in the comments!
Cover image: Micro Piggy Bank by “Ki”-nokuniya & Co.