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HelpTutorialsDesigning for Cheaper Fine Detail Plastic

Designing for Cheaper Fine Detail Plastic

The Spring 2017 pricing model update for Fine Detail Plastic gives you completely new ways to manage costs while designing products. Here are a few tips for optimizing the cost of your products made in Fine Detail Plastic.

You can control costs most by minimizing

  • your use of support material by limiting overhanging features
  • the height of your design
  • the number of individual parts

Minimize Support

Fine Detail Plastic is printed on a build plate, where the print head deposits liquid plastic layer by layer, starting at the bottom. To overcome gravity, the 3D printer surrounds the cured plastic with wax that will support the layers that come above. So every cavity, overhang, and negative angle requires support in wax. That wax gets melted away after the product emerges from the 3D printer.

original and optimized design

Original (A) Cessna 310 by Stony Smith and (B) optimized. Support material (visualized in orange) is required to 3D print the wings (and plane), by separating wheels as separate parts and aligning the body against the ground, less support material is needed.

The most effective ways to minimize support material are to

  • make sure all the biggest cavities face upward in your model
  • position all overhangs as close to the build plate as possible

If your model consists of multiple parts, try to apply these principles to each of them, make sure all parts in the 3D file are oriented the same way.

Once you upload our system will automatically test 6 different orientations at 90 degree incrimates to find the cheapest orientation for all your parts within the model file. The important thing to remember is that the system is going to rotate every part with the same value. If rotating all the parts -90 degrees in the X axis is cheapest compared to the other 5 directions it will choose that option. This means it will orient all the parts in the file the same way, so if you want multiple parts with consistent orientation, orient them in the model the same way.

Make The Design Short

Fine Detail Plastic prints in 30-micron layers. The taller the 3D model, the longer the machine has to run. That’s why the height of the product affects the price.

original and optimized design

Original (A) Streetcar 310 by Stony Smith and (B) optimized. When the car is split in two, the 3D print becomes lower, and the interior no more needs to be filled with support material.

You can minimize the height of your 3D print by

  • orienting parts as flat as possible
  • cutting larger parts in half where possible

Because our system will optimize for orientation to print with the least support at the lowest height where your design allows it an effective way to reduce height is to cut big, hollow parts in half with open areas face upward. To help align the halves at assembly, you can design guides and lipped edges

Sprue Together

Shapeways puts a lot of manual craftsmanship into 3D printing your products in Fine Detail Plastic. We check your 3D models, prepare files for 3D printing, post-process your prints, inspect them for quality, and packaging your product for safe shipping. Each phase involves several minutes of effort by our 3D printing engineers. That’s why Shapeways applies a handling cost per part.

You can minimize the per-part cost by spruing parts together. We recommend using 1.2mm thick wires to connect parts, or 0.6mm if you have enough wires to support the load. When connecting heavy parts, please increase the thickness and/or add more attachments to avoid breakage. To minimize the need for support material, plan sprues as close to the build plate as possible. And to minimize the footprint on the build plate, place individual parts as close together as you can, leaving a minimum of 0.05mm clearance between parts.

Additional tips

Each part is calculated individually, and 3D printed against the build plate

original and optimized design

A and B illustrate the same parts in two model file. In A the parts are stacked on top of each other, where in they're spread out. Stacking or spreading parts doesn't affect the price. Our 3D printing engineers always spread out parts against the build plate (like in B) when they plan the 3D print. At upload the 3D model processing will calculate the price (footprint, height, and needed support) of each part.


Material portfolio has the details

Each finish in our Fine Detail Plastic Family has its own minimum and maximum requirements that can be found on the Fine Detail Plastic Material Information Page.

Of course, if you have any unanswered questions, please contact us. We're always happy to help.

Get more help in our Forums

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