Forum: Virtual Classroom - 3-D Printing Cost

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3-D Printing Cost

What materials should the housing/gear assembly made of?

Looks like several options are available from commercial companies.

Has anyone used a commercial company to print the entire unit?

Looks like the price is too much for a starter kit... about $300 dollars, and more, for ABS or nylon...Bobbie 15th Mar 2016
Hi Bobbie

That's another great question! For outdoor use, I'd generally recommend polycarbonate (PC), ABS, Nylon and PLA in order of preference. PLA does not do well outdoors. Ideally, for the housing, materials should be UV resistant.

The housing is not heavily stressed compared to the gears. Ideally, the gears should be made using stronger and tougher materials, such as the reinforced filaments available.

We have given the option of 3D printing because we know that lots of schools and colleges have printers available to them, and so the cost is just that of the materials. We don't expect that anybody would want to or be able to afford to use a commercial service, although these are getting cheaper all the time, especially if you compare prices on a service such as .

I think "home-made" 3D printed parts in most materials, using most processes, should be fine for general experimentation and development.

However, as I said in another thread, for the ~250 "official" ThumbNet stations that we donate globally, we want to control manufacture as much as possible, and so we will order mouldings of the key components in bulk. We'll order many more than we need, and will provide the rest to experimenters at as low a price as we can. In the case of the the housing and gear assembly, this should be closer to $30 than $300!

Shaun 15th Mar 2016