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Cheap 3D printing company? Answered

Hi, I would like to get a 3D print of a model I made. I've heard a lot of good things about Ponoko. I exported my file from SketchUp to a Collada file(*.dae), and then uploaded it to ponoko.com. I selected the material, and this is what I found out: It would cost me $200 for a 3-inch cube, with the cheapest material(durable plastic)!!! Does anyone else know of somewhere where I can buy reasonably-priced 3D objects that I design(<$70 USD)? I'm not worried about shipping time, as long as i get it within a month.


The cheapest way to get it printed is contact a "hackerspace" or "maker club" in your area. These are clubs for people who make things and always have a 3d printer or two available. Someone may offer to print your item for almost free. You may find they can print your items in less than the time you would have an expensive service bureau do it. Usually the print material will be ABS durable plastic in one color of your choice, but you should ask what all materials they print in just for future reference. You can also try Craigslist or even google "[your area] 3d printing service". More and more 3d printing will be localized and cheaper.

Hello I just noticed your post. If it's any help www.hotendworks.com is an up and coming 3D printing service with lower end cost but good quality. Hope this helps!!!

I'm sure you've long since handled your business with 3d printing but for the reference of others, I must endorse Shapeways. I've found them to be very affordable if you know how to build the model to fit their process correctly. I've quotes up to 100 of the same piece from companies like Pokono and iMaterialise, and even with their bulk discounts, they end up costing more than a one-shot from Shapeways.

As dscott4 mentioned, hollowing out your 3d object will save you a ton on material cost. I've managed to cut the cost of some 3d prints in more than half by hollowing out the inside, and that's for smaller, complex shapes, so for something like a cube which is mostly empty space inside, you could potentially cut down the cost to 10% of the solid object, and still have proper structural support.

One drawback, however, to hollowing out your model is that an "escape" hole of about 2-4mm is required to allow the loose powder to escape after the SLS process has finished.

Another advantage of Shapeways is they allow multiple pieces in one print file. In other words, you can have 4 cubes sitting next to each other in a single .stl you upload and they'll print them all with the pricing method of one file. So rather than pay four separate setup fees on four separate models, you pay one. Also, some of their materials (as of me leaving this comment) offer a discount on material over a certain amount. So if you have an object that's over a certain cubic volume, they offer 50% pricing on material after that, so putting multiple objects into one print can save you a ton.

The difference between $200 per cube and a potential $10 per cube (if you need multiples) is monumental, and I haven't seen that option anywhere except for Shapeways.

How did you go with your 3D printing?

It is super important to make parts hollow as you pay for the material used ..

The major cost is the material. Shapeways quotes prices from $1/cm3 (for sandstone) up to $10/cm3 (for stainless steel). Your three-inch cube is 442 cubic centimeters (do the math :-), so $200 is already pretty cheap.

There are many 3D printing services available. Since you're the one with the model, you'll need to contact them for quotes.