3D printing prototypes are often intended to meet the requirements of Form, Fit and/or Function. But sometimes only Form is required to verify a shape and Fit or Function are not necessary. For large bulky models, the material cost can be significant as well as build time. Most people are not aware that a 50% scale reduction could save up to 800% material. Let’s investigate this idea.
Building a solid cube that is 1x1x1 inches the material usage will obviously be a total volume of 1 cubic inch. If we scaled this simple cube 2 times larger so that it is 2x2x2, now the total volume increases to 8 cubic inches. That is an 800% increase in material usage and an 800% material cost increase to build a solid part that is only 200% larger.
Therefore, the inverse would also true, reducing the dimensional scale 50% will considerably decrease the material usage and cost much more than just one-half. Building a scaled model can result in significant savings of material usage and cost.
Again, this reduced scaling concept is to aid with material cost reduction for large bulky models that require a solid build style, such as in the PolyJet technology. While FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technology will allow sparse infill to reduce material cost, PolyJet printing technology must print all models as solids. Take into consideration that some models with small or thin features may not benefit from scaling down the model and could even be detrimental to the quality and strength of the prototype.
Senior Application Engineer, Additive Manufacturing
Computer Aided Technology, Inc.