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3D Printing Instant Quote


3D Printing Services Background

Get an INSTANT QUOTE for 3D printing services or call us at (256) 489-1155 and discover how affordable, high-quality products are Made in the USA! Print 10,000s parts without a mold. Easily make changes. We're happy to help you design it. Our 3d printer farm is here for you! Check out our Capability Statement to see what we can do!

But please be aware that people often have misconceptions about what 3D printing can do for them. If you only know about 3D printing from the news, you might think 3D printing can create any part you can imagine seamlessly and hassle-free. While 3D printing opens up the possibility of easily and cheaply producing thousands of parts with complex features and no upfront cost of designing and machining an injection mold, there are practical limitations to 3D printing that will affect the manufacturability and the cost of your part. Please read on to learn more about how the economics of 3D printing affect a part's price, and how you (or we) can design your part, so it can most easily be 3D printed to save you money. 

3D Printing Economics

Our instant 3d printing services quoting tool will give you a quick estimate of the cost, but knowing what drives the cost can help you save money ensures you get a high quality 3D printed part.

The number one driver of the cost of your part is the part's volume. The larger your part is, the more plastic it uses, the more machine-time it takes to print, and the fewer we can fit on a single print bed. If you play around with our quoting system, you will see quite clearly and quickly how the volume of a part affects the overall cost of your 3D printed part.

Gold 3D PrintingThe next biggest cost driver is part quantity. We make sure that every part we produce is of the highest quality. In order for us to produce quality parts, we have to spend some time figuring out what settings and part orientation will produce the best part. If you order just one part, all of the cost of us finding the right print settings will be spent on just that one part. If you order hundreds or thousands of parts, the cost of perfecting the print settings is spread among all the parts and amounts to just pennies per part. Keep in mind that the upfront cost for us to figure out print settings will be 10s of dollars while the upfront cost for a mold is likely 10s of thousands or even millions of dollars depending on the part.

The next cost driver I want to talk about is part printability. Some parts are easy to print and many of them can be arranged on a print bed and reliably printed. Other parts have features (we'll talk about in the next section) that make them difficult to print. Our 3D printing services offer great flexibility in the design of your part, but you still need to be sure your part is designed for manufacturing in order to get the lowest cost/unit.

The last cost driver that I want to talk about is material. Some materials are more expensive than others. Some are harder to work with and require better machines to print. We can confidently print a large variety of parts in the materials we have listed in our manual quoting system, but if you want your part made from another material, we'd be happy to provide a quote for you to consider. You can reach us filling out the quote form above, calling us at (256) 489-1155, or emailing us at sales@americanfilament.us!

Design for Manufacturing

Many customers come to us for 3D printing services to take advantage of the versatility that 3D printing offers, but you need to be aware of some pitfalls of the process that will make your parts harder to 3D print and more expensive. To understand how to design for 3D printing, you need to understand a bit about the 3D printing process.

In fused deposition modeling, a part is built layer by layer. The 3D printer will extrude plastic on the build plate to produce the first layer, and then the rest of the print is extruded onto the layer beneath it. It is easier to print a part that can be oriented so that a large flat side of the part can be the first layer of the print. Additionally, when the part is in that orientation it is important to avoid overhangs. There are two ghosts below, but the one on the left is much, much scarier as a 3D print. All of the blue material below it is just waste that costs material, machine time, and add a new failure mode for the print. On the other hand, the ghost on the right has a flat surface and no overhangs to worry about making it much easier to 3D print.

Overhang

You also need to avoid small features. Fused deposition modeled parts are not always as strong as injection molded parts, and its not uncommon for small features (the size of a piece of spaghetti) to break off just from regular handling. Likewise, you want to make the part thick. If the part is thicker than 3mm everywhere then you're probably fine, but 5mm is even better. Some part features can be thinner than 3mm, but it all depends on the application.

I hope this helps you understand how to design for 3D printing. We hope you consider us for your 3D printing services, and we're always available for a call if you want to learn more. You can reach us filling out the quote form above, calling us at (256) 489-1155, or emailing us at sales@americanfilament.us!