1. How do I know which system and material is best for my model?

The 3D print companies’ websites have loads of useful up-to-date information. Also by uploading your model to their website, your model is checked, suitable materials are offered and the cost to print is provided in real time. Services will respond if there are problems.

If your model will be expensive to print, we recommend printing a cheap prototype in plastic and/or scaling your model down to reduce costs. Professional printing services and bureaux can give the most up-to-date advice on their own systems and materials.

  1. How much will my model cost to 3D print?

Cost will vary between companies for similar material because they each have their own pricing structures and offer different levels of services. It’s easy to shop around as you can set up accounts on the 3D printers’ websites and upload your model with no obligation to order. A slight reduction in scale, or making your model hollow, can also reduce costs.

  1. How can I finish my 3D printed pieces?

This will depend on the material used for printing. We can only list a few common materials here:

  • Nylon (polyamide) can be hand dyed
  • Plastics and paper can be painted and/or sealed with acrylic paint
  • Metals can be polished and patinated
  • Objects 3D printed in colour (e.g. multicolour sandstone/paper) can be varnished

For more unusual materials, go to the 3D printing company’s forum to find the best finishes compatible with the printed material. 3D print service companies provide some finishing services, such as varnishing, dying, polishing and processes such as tumbling material parts, including metal.

  1. Why can’t I upload my design to a 3D printing website direct from Anarkik3D Design?

Globally there is a growing number of 3D print service companies, all offering a variety of materials and services. We certainly do not want to restrict choice, especially as it is so easy in Anarkik3D Design to save a file in .stl, obj, or .wrl and upload this to different companies to select the best option.

  1. How environmentally friendly is 3D printing

This depends on the particular technology and material used, but 3D printing is generally more sustainable than other methods of manufacturing.

  • The process is additive so there is very little wastage (just support material on occasion). This is unlike subtractive processes such as milling, where the excess material is removed from the block to produce the part.
  • As parts are generally produced to order there is no excess stock being wasted or being transported.
  • One innovation is a processor that recycles plastic milk bottles into the plastic filament used by many of the low cost printers.
  • 3D printing in paper is one of the greenest technologies, particularly as the binder is organic and waste is easily recycled in the paper bin.