"Can you print this?"

"Can you print this ?"

16th April 2020


a sketch often forms the start point for a design.
A freehand sketch often forms the start point for a design.


It's a question we get asked daily, sometimes accompanied by just a photo.

In theory most things can be printed subject to machine limitations but there are a number of things we need to know before we can say yes, no or give you an estimate.

Do you have a 3D CAD file?

If you only have photo's or a physical item you need it convert or create it in CAD. It's only when we have a 3D printable file, ideally in .STL format that we can quote.

If design isn't your thing, we can help create your CAD file.

A second option is to have a go your self using one of the many CAD (Computer Aided Design) software tools available.  We've an old blog post outlining the options which we'll update soon: Free CAD tools

In addition there are also a number of free to share websites that may have a design that is suitable for your needs which will save you reinventing the wheel. thingiverse and grabcad are great places to start.

Finally scanning could be an option if you have an existing part to replicate. 

Once you have a CAD design you are happy with you can then export a 3D Print file. A STL* file covers most eventualities. Be sure your exported STL file is in mm, use a tool like viewstl to confirm the quality of your file and it's dimensions.

Send your file over to us using the ‘Get a quote” button on the web site here. We will have a look and try to identify any potential issues for the specific material you have requested. We may send it back to you for amends if they are possible.

Material considerations ?

It also helps us to have some idea of what material you need or if your design needs specific material properties. Cheap & cheerful? Strong & durable? Something more complex with fine details? High temperature resistance? Conductive or very strong?

Our 3D-Printed materials wizard lets you narrow down potential material candidates by their different attributes, linking to their respective pages for more details, information and properties.

Different materials are 3d-printed using different processes and technologies. Generally each material process uses a different machine which in turn has it's own maximum build size. These are also noted on the page for each material.

When we quote, your file is run through a simulated 3d-print which gives us the figures we need to calculate your quote. Your price calculation is based on how much material is used, how much support is needed, how long it will take to print and what clean up or post processing work is required along with fixed costs we need to allow for.

Your quote will usually be back to you in a couple of hours, but perhaps longer for specialist or challenging projects.