Resins are the perfect 3D printing materials if you are looking for smooth surfaces, high-quality, detailed prints and a wide variety of finishing and post-processing possibilities. Generally, resin is more expensive. The average 3D printer material cost for standard SLA resins is approximately $50 per liter. For some provide the best possible surface finish and special material properties like dental or ceramic resins, they can cost more.
So saving considerable amount of resin material will be equal to save time and money. There are lots of ways to economize on resin costs, but here are five that you may have overlooked.
Step 1: Hollow Out 3D Models
3D printing materials is volume-based: the less the volume, the less the cost. To hollow out 3D models is meaningful. Two things to note are wall thickness and escape holes. Pushing the wall thickness to the minimum might seem like a way to save money. However, making walls too thin can make a model too fragile and might cause parts of it to break off. Besides, when printing a hollow object it could trap resin inside the print as the layers are solidified. So you need to add escape holes to get trapped 3D printing material out of your hollow modle.
There are lots of software tools for hollowing out 3D models. Here we recommend ChiTuBox as it can both hollow out 3D models and add escape holes with just few clicks.
Step 2: Resize and Scale 3D Models
3D printing materials is size-based: the smaller the size, the less the cost. In ChiTuBox, you can also resize and scale your model based on the relative sizes of your edges and faces. This tool allows you to resize the XYZ and all the same, or independent of each other.
Step 3: Optimize Structure of 3D Models
The greatest waste of resin material is the fail of print. So optimizing structure of 3D models is significant to improve the success rate. For example, the thinner the walls, the less the object weighs. And you will use less resin for the part so it is more cost-effective but aslo more fragile. This is especially important for bottom-up 3D printing, where the printed part hangs upside-down and is subjected to gravitational force.
Sharp corners increase stress concentration, which may lead to cracks or a failed print. Smaller holes (with a diameter of less than 0.5 mm) are always tricky to print because they will likely close off during printing.
In order to reduce the risk of potential cracks and other stresses after 3D printing, you can design parts with ribs and gussets.
Step 4: Avoid Supports and Rafts
The cost of 3D printing through materials could be saved by avoiding or reducing supports and rafts. Don’t waste materials and add supports & rafts efficiently. Sometimes, just reorienting your object on slicing software can help rid your print of unnecessary resin waste. This operation can also be finished in ChiTuBox easily by reorienting the XYZ axes.
Here's an example. No matter how tilted it is, no position uses less support than the vertical one.
Not only can the removal of support structures reduce the cost of 3D printing and overall time spent, but it will also help produce cleaner prints. Because it can be painful to remove support structures at times, and could leave you with lackluster print quality and rough surfaces.
Step 5: Printing Devices in One Part
3D printing is helping to reduce tooling costs, for example, 3D printing is a great way to manufacture tools directly, or to skip some assembly process by printing devices in one part. The car manufacturer Opel admitted a tooling cost reduction of 90% for the assembly process. Other example, Jabil’s Auburn Hills facility is also using additive manufacturing and is now noticing 30 % of reduction in the cost of tooling, which is quite important. It depends of your business and of your use of 3D printing, but it is obviously a way to cut your costs when it comes to tooling.
These five tips can help you save resin material and money on any project. Also, there are some online price calculations which use complicated price algorithms such as the volume, the box around the model and surface area to determine the costs of a 3D print. You can upload your 3D file on the online price calculation service to test how much the price reduction for your 3D prints would be.