If you are using Hatchbox 3D PLA Filament, this typically ranges in cost from US$19 to US$22 with FREE shipping from Amazon in the United States. In the UK, this typically costs around £19.99 from Amazon with FREE shipping. This puts the cost of printing at just under 2p per gram in the UK and just under $0.02 in the United States. There are cheaper filament options, but we use this as a baseline for calculating costs. To calculate how much an item might cost you, just multiply the weight (in grams) by 2p (UK) or 2 cents (USA). This is an estimated amount of filament usage, but is typically correct. It does not factor in the cost of equipment or electricity usage, both of which are nominal.
Our designs are optimized for efficient and low cost prints using high quality PLA material. This sometimes includes designs which can be printed upside down to avoid the need for support material. Sometimes it requires multi-part items to be printed and then assembled. All of our designs attempt to reduce the need for support material. We focus on reducing print time and filament usage whenever possible, without sacrificing design or quality.
To reduce the complexity of printing while improving the success rate of a quality print, we stick to the manufacturer recommended default settings for our 3D printers. The recommended print settings for each print, along with the filament usage and estimated time are displayed in our Trackside 3D store. The orientation to print each design is also displayed in our on-line store. Additional information and those settings are also available on this site.
Settings to Adjust
We typically use a 30% or 40% in-fill for our designs. We typically adjust these and the layer height settings depending on the design requirements. A large building or retaining wall will produce similar results at 0.3mm layer heights and 0.1mm layer heights. The higher resolution 0.1mm layer height is unnecessary for such designs so we will recommend 0.3mm in those cases. This results in a faster print with less material used. For more detailed products though such as our point machines, location cases and signals, we recommend a 40% in-fill with a 0.1mm layer height. This approach also applies to designs that require thin walls or are otherwise delicate. A good example of this is our cable trunking system, while this prints ok at 0.3mm with 30% in-fill. We recommend 0.1mm and 40% in-fill to prevent the possibility of the layers losing adhesion.
The best source for help is via our Trackside 3D Facebook Page. There is also a dedicated group for discussing 3D printing and the Trackside 3D products which you can find here. If you are not on facebook, you can submit a request via our website
If you already have a 3D printer or access to one, head over to our Trackside 3D Shop. If you need a printer, have a look at the ones we use, the JG Aurora A5. If you do not wish to purchase a 3D printer but would like to purchase pre-printed versions of our products you can find them at Smart Models and our Shapeways Shop. If you would like to try out some of our FREE designs, you can find them over at Thingiverse.