Information for Beginners

6 Great Ways to Reduce Your 3D Printing Costs

3d printing cost

Have you ever wanted to 3D print something …and then realize that it’s expensive? Here are great 6 ways to reduce your cost of 3D printing. Avoid unnecessary 3D printing costs using the following tips.

3D Printing Cost Tip #1: Buy Your Own 3D Printer

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Buying a 3D Printer? But that would be expensive, right? Initially yes. But if you plan on doing lots of 3D printing, the investment will pay off.

First, you won’t have to pay service or shipping fees on your 3D prints and above all, you’ll have a fun machine to play and experiment with. However, this tip is not for you if you don’t plan on making 3D printing a regular hobby. If you are looking for a list of affordable 3D printers, please continue here. You can even build your own 3D printer if you have the skills. This will bring the 3D print cost significantly down.

Second, you can also join the 3D printing network 3D Hubs and print for other people to get some money back.


3D Printing Cost Tip #2: Select the Appropriate Material

iMaterialise offers consumer services using its mother company array of 100+ 3D printers (image: iMaterialise)

There is a wide range of printing materials from plastics, ceramics, metals and many others. The price difference between different materials is huge. Within the range of ABS and PLA plastics alone, the price ranges roughly between $19 and $175 per kilogram. This is the result of varying attributes like color, translucency, glow in the dark, etc..

Get more information on 3D printing filament for home use here.

Metals or ceramics, which you can’t 3D print at home, are much more expensive. By simply investing a little time in selecting the right material, you could save quite a bit of money.

If you already have a model for 3D printing, you can use All3DP’s price comparison service to get the best price for a professional 3D printed item.

3D Printing Cost Tip #3: Reduce the Size of your Print

3D-printed-elephant-Joris-van-Tubergen

Bigger is better? Not when it comes to 3D printing and saving money. If you are simply printing a model of something in real life, the size might not be of functional importance. In this case, it would make sense to make the design smaller rather than bigger. However, this is a question of personal preference. By making your design smaller, the printing process requires less material thus results in a much cheaper bill.

3D Printing Cost Tip #4: By Price Effectively Designing Your Project

Examples

Unless you’re 3D printing a bowling ball, this next tip makes a lot of sense. You can save material (and thereby money) if you hollow out the inside of your design. But be careful, because the printing material you use will have a minimum wall thickness that is required for structural integrity. This value will range from roughly 3mm to 1mm for plastics and ceramics and all the way down to 0.2mm for titanium. Also, be sure to check that the dimensions are compatible with the 3D printer you are going to use.

Are you planning on printing more than one object? To avoid paying a base service fee for every item you order, you can bridge each print with a shaft of material. This allows for your order to be dealt with as one single print rather than multiple individual ones. When you receive your 3D print, all you have to do is cut away the bridging material, and you’re left with your separate prints. In the end, you will only have to pay one service fee.

3D Printing Cost Tip #5: Use a Price Comparison Service

All3DP Screen Price Comparison

If you are willing to compromise time, service and perhaps quality, then using a price comparison service can save you a lot of cash. Such platforms creates enhanced competition between the service providers that are involved, usually resulting in fair prices. It also gives you the chance to weigh the price you pay for customer service, time of delivery and the quality of your print.

You can use All3DP’s price comparisons service here (from professional 3D printing services Sculpteo, iMaterialise and Shapeways), or head over to 3D Hubs to get prices from hobby 3D printers.

3D Printing Cost Tip #6: Use or Modify a Free Design

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There’s a ton of good design out there, so you don’t have to invent the wheel for yourself. Thingiverse (pictured above) has 1 million free designs for you to choose and 3D print for personal use. Alternatively, there are many websites that host file sharing platforms. All you need to do is download the file you like, and you’re ready to start printing. For some services, registration may be required. Here are some websites with free downloads.

If you want to create your own 3D designs, there are great free tools available (we’ve collected 20 of the best) online along with a bunch of free tutorials. But beware: The software can be pretty complex. If you just want to get your feet wet, use an easy editor like 3D Slash.


Hopefully, this guide has been helpful. Now it’s up to you to put it into practice. Just think of all the extra prints you could afford with that saved money.