3D Printing Price Quotes: The Top Characteristics that Affect it.
How To: 3D Printing Tips & Tricks
3D printing prices may vary in range and this depends of a lot factors. Many may be wondering what the different ways are to be able to adjust the CAD (Computer Aided Design) that might reduce the price as well as make for more efficient 3D printing. There is a trade-off for lower pricing which can still result in higher costs related to mechanical properties or aesthetic.
The following STL file characteristics also impact the price of most additive manufacturing quote:
Material pricing is based on mechanical properties, ease of use and post processing requirements. ABS is the most cost effective option. But if your application requires a high FST rating and strength-to-weight ratio, ULTEM, which is more expensive, would be the best option.
The amount of support material on your design can also affect the price. Optimizing your build orientation can reduce the amount of support material needed. This is true for both PolyJet and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) materials.
FDM build orientation is the direction the part is built on the X, Y, or Z axis and has the biggest impact on part functionality and feature strength. It also has an impact on price because it determines the number of material layers are in the part. The amount of layers dictates run-time and the amount of support material needed.
PolyJet systems automatically optimize the orientation for the fastest build time. The image below shows the same part, built in the optimal orientation on a tray to maximize strength, minimize build time, and reduce support structures as much as possible.
Layer height is the measure of each layer of extruded molten plastic in an FDM part. A thinner layer height can reduce stair stepping and improve the surface quality of an FDM part, but has a higher price because of the increased build time.
Some materials, such as ABS-ESD7, have limited layer height options due to extrusion compatibility. You have the option of choosing the best FDM layer height for your application within the quoting engine. PolyJet systems can build layers as fine as 16 microns so layer lines are minimal even at the flattest build orientation.
Wall thickness should dictate the best layer height for your part, which dictates the price. There is no way for the quoting engine to detect and measure wall thicknesses so you must make the best choice.
In general, the wider the wall thickness, the better to avoid flimsy features, holes, gaps or missing pieces. Wall thickness is dependent on the geometry and application dependent.
Sparse fill is a build option that can potentially reduce price. If you have a solid enclosed part, like a cube for example, it can be filled completely solid or the interior can be designed with a custom density using air gaps between extrusion paths. The process uses less material and is faster, resulting in a lower price compared to solid fill. However, it can slightly affect overall part strength. Sparse fill is available through a manual quote since it involves additional file analysis.
These are just some of the characteristics that impact 3D printing costs.