How to Maximize Your Budget for 3D Printing

Once you’ve bought your 3D printer and your printing material, the spending is over, right? Not likely, especially if you’re not using your budget effectively. 3D printing is a very powerful educational tool, and it can be cost-effective, too, if you think ahead. The three limiting factors in 3D printing are the type of design, machine print time, and material cost. Maximize your budget by taking certain steps when setting up your machine and designing your print.

Smart Design

No matter what you’re printing in your classroom, you can lower your cost per 3D print with a few smart design choices. 

  • Rework a free design. Don’t start from scratch! There are thousands of free 3D print designs online from makers to help you get started. 
  • Use free 3D design programs. If you start from scratch, some programs let you create your own design for free. 
  • Make the design hollow. Unless your piece calls for it, there’s no need to have a solid design. Take care, though, to not go below thickness limits for your material, or you may risk structural integrity.
  • Make a smaller model. Same idea as with a hollow design – less material means less money.

Maximize your returns in the classroom, and let us help you select the best 3D printer for your students!

Reduce Time

When the 3D printer is running, every second counts. Certain settings on your printer must be adjusted to optimize each print. In addition, here are some other steps you can take to cut down on your 3D printing time.

  • Reduce the thickness of the filament used. The height of your layers will determine the resolution of your 3D print, but also the time it takes to create your design. Smaller layers and a smoother print means longer print time.
  • Produce several parts with one print. Instead of running your 3D printer for four different production runs, link your smaller parts together in one design with filament. This will also cut down on the time it takes to reset your 3D printer in between each use. 
  • Mix 3D parts with regular parts in your design. Some parts call for 3D printing, while others don’t. By mixing the two, you won’t have to 3D print your whole design.
  • Limit post-processing needs. If you are printing a 3D design that will have to be manually finished, it increases the work hours per part. 

Reduce Material

Use the right material for the right print! Not every 3D print run requires expensive filament. If you’re making a prototype or model, you may not need to use top-cost materials. 

  • Reduce the percentage of infill. Like making your design hollow, limiting the honeycomb-like infill when possible will cut your final cost. 
  • Use the optimal settings for your 3D printer. Make sure you research the best ways to adjust the settings and care for your 3D printer. This will help preserve not only your materials but also the life of your machine.
  • Use as few support structures as possible. Of course, some designs will always require supports or rafts, but if your design can stand on its own, reducing support structures will reduce your waste and make a cleaner 3D print.
  • Store material properly. In the wrong humidity and temperature, certain materials will degrade and be unable to be used. Read up on your materials to ensure you are prolonging their life. 

Using all these tools together will ensure you get the most bang for your buck from your 3D printer. 

Call us today to add 3D printing as an educational tool for your classroom!