Reduce filament costs and save time with your 3D printing

Anyone who has performed any amount of tuning their 3D printers or 3D design can attest to the amount of wasted filament, and significant time it takes between prints, follows are a few tips and tricks on how you speed up the process, and maybe even save some money on the way.

Don’t print the whole model

This is an easy one, often I see people spending tens of print hours trying to perfect a 3D model, or tune out an issue in a certain section of their print. Chop that time right down by just printing the section of the model that is giving you trouble, saving you filament, your printers (and not to mentioned your!) time.

A quick and easy way to do this would be to just “sink” the model in your slicer so that the sections of the part you don’t want to print are under the virtual print bed. That way if you are trying to perfect the top surface of a model, just print the top!

You can chop the model in other tools such as meshmixer, but this is way is so convenient

Pick the right filament

Not only do certain filament have differing price points, they also differ in density too, and as filament is generally sold on weight, certain filament will get you further for a given roll.

In short, I normally print in ABS for prototyping as its generally cheap, can be easily patched or smoothed using acetone, and is the least dense material (meaning you get the most meters out of ABS for a KG of filament of any other filament).

Material1.75mm filament length per KG (higher is better)CostNotes
ABS395m/KGGenerally cheap, many optionsThe most efficient in terms of print time vs KG, get about 18% more printing out of a given roll of ABS than PLA, and a whopping 30% more than PETG
Nylon365m/KGHigher cost than ABS/PLA, especially if buying premium filamentEfficient in print use but pricey and normally tricky to print with this material.
PLA333m/KGGenerally cheap, many options
PETG302m/KGHigher cost than ABS/PLANice material, but pricey and dense, this would be the worst material to prototype with

What not to do… Get a filament extruder!

Not something I can recommend, it might appease your guilt for a short while, but I having seen the by products of recycled filament run through a filament extruder, be prepared to invest a lot of time and tuning (not to mention material sorting!) to get anything close to usable.

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