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5 Simple Tricks to Reduce the Cost of 3D Printing

For many projects, 3D printing can boast a number of advantages over traditional manufacturing, not least being the potential for its ability to reduce the manufacturing costs required to bring your vision to life. However, 3D printing still comes at a price, so we have compiled some top ways to keep costs as low as possible.

Free 3D Modeling Software

If you're designing something original, you'll need a design platform first. No need to spend a bunch of money on expensive modeling software, because there are many great programs out there which are either totally free, or have a free trial you can take advantage of. Something like Autodesk Fusion 360 has a free trial and is a top tier modeling software used by many professionals, while a program such as SculpGL or Tinkercad is completely free and absolutely perfect for many projects. Your particular needs and design will determine which of these programs is the right fit for you.

Modify a free design

There is a plethora of amazing designs that have already been created and are just waiting to take shape in the real world once you decide to print them. Reinventing the wheel might not be the best option for you if there is already a great design that has been honed and tweaked over time and multiple prints based on user feedback. There are literally millions of free designs for you to browse and choose from across various sites. A great site to start with is Thingiverse. Just remember to check copyright because some of the designs are restricted to not-commercial use.

Selection the right materials for the particular project

Selecting the right materials for your project is a big topic, and one we can only touch on here, but it is worth your while to make sure that the material you choose is the one best suited for the use of your print. There are different types of plastics, ceramics, metals and many other mediums, each with their own particular strengths and shortcomings. Some, like resins, require more trial and error than other mediums such as PLA or PETG, which are standardized. Some of the strongest 3D print material when it comes to plastics is ABS.

Optimizing print settings

Many times, the presets built into your slicer are pre-tuned specifically based on the particular material you will be using for your print. Even these specific settings, which are a good place to start, can often be enhanced with further tweaking. These fine-tunings can potentially yield faster results or higher quality outcomes, leading to, of course, cheaper 3D prints.

Avoiding supports and rafts

Simply avoiding some of the support structures can help rid your print of unnecessary print material, thereby saving print time and material, and thus reducing costs. Something as easy as reorienting the object or adjusting the settings on your printer can help to reduce the material used in the print. Certain prints could also be split into several pieces and then assembled in post-production to avoid using unnecessary material, even if they otherwise could be printed whole. Removing support structures can result in cleaner, smoother prints as well, an added bonus.

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