Got a question about 3D printing and the services we offer? Search below to see if it has been asked and answered before.

If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for then get in touch via the Contact Us page and we’ll be happy to help.

What material should I choose?

This completely depends on the type of model you need printing.

The first thing to consider is if you have any special property-needs for the part?
Things such as flexibility, heat resistance, impact resistance etc. will all influence the materials you can choose from.

Check out our Materials page for the properties of the materials we offer. You will find a selection of Case Studies by material, and the Safety and Technical Sheets for each material on each printer.

Should I choose FDM or Resin printing?

The answer depends on the part you need printing.

If visual quality is your main concern then we’d suggest Resin printing, but if you need something tougher and cheaper then FDM is the way to go.

Resin prints are more expensive and less durable, but they have an incredible surface quality and dimensional accuracy. That makes it ideal for visual models, such as those used in exhibition displays, medical research, miniatures, or for casting.

FDM is cheaper and has a greater range of mechanical properties (such as flexible materials), but the surface quality is lower. This makes it ideal for engineering, product prototyping, and for clients that prioritise cheaper parts that they can sand, prime, and paint once they’ve been delivered.

What is the difference between ABS and PLA?

Both are FDM materials, but they have different properties.

PLA (Polylactic Acid) is a biodegradable plastic made of plant material (such as corn starch or sugarcane), as opposed to ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) which is made from oil-based sources.

ABS outperforms PLA in strength, flexibility, impact resistance, and heat resistance, but has a greater impact on the environment in it’s development, printing, and disposal – due to this impact we don’t offer ABS as an option.

Tough PLA is our preferred alternative that offers an ABS-like material with the environmental benefits of PLA.

The advanced material properties makes it the best of both worlds and easily the most used material we offer.

Can you estimate time / cost without a .STL file?

Unfortunately no, sorry.

The time and cost estimates for all orders are actually calculated by the printers.
The printer settings, such as layer height, infill density and need for support material have a dramatic effect on print time and amount of material used, and we aren’t able to predict these without putting the .STL file into the printer.

This is also why we may be able to estimate design time (if you use our design service), but can’t provide a printing quote until after the design work is complete.

What file types can your printers take?

All 3D files should be supplied in .STL format.

Most (if not all) 3D modelling software can output to .STL file format nowadays.
One of our designers may be able to help prepare your file, but this may be for a fee depending on their availability and the level of work required.

Get in touch and select the ‘3D design support’ option when sending us a message.

How can I change my design to save on print time / cost?

The easiest way is to reduce the model to just the essentials.

With other manufacturing techniques such as CNC milling you subtract material from a block, so making the part smaller involves more work.
The opposite is true with 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing). Every unnecessary part will just add to the print time and material used, and this increases the cost to print it.

Support material (such as PVA) is actually more expensive than the model material (such as Tough PLA) and means the printer needs to switch material throughout the print.
Reducing the need for supports not only saves time and cost of manufacturing, but also reduces the need for cleaning and its associated costs.
The simplest way to do this is to minimise overhangs on the design – any part with a 60° overhang automatically uses support material, so try to avoid these.

This also applies to any cavities inside the model, so don’t try to ‘hollow out’ the part in the design thinking this will save cost, as the printer will just fill it with support material.
In fact the printer lets us set the model material (such as Tough PLA) infill quantity, and by default we have this at 18%, so there is very little material used while maintaining a strong part.

If you need to save time then we suggest a higher layer height.
As standard we use our fast settings of 0.2mm layer height on FDM and 0.028mm on Resin, but can go lower and slower if greater dimensional accuracy and surface quality is needed.