Saving Money with Smart Slice

As 3d printed products continue to become more mainstream, it is important to understand the overall cost of producing parts for a given volume.  Although production volumes tend to be quite low in additive, especially compared to processes like injection molding, costs do matter.  With Teton's Smart Slice plugin for Cura, substantial cost savings can be achieved.  

Let's say that we need to produce 25 units of the part model shown below.  This is an end use part that must meet the following functional requirements:
  • The part is fixed by bolts through the two holes and 250N (~60lb) forces are squeezing the forked section.
  • A Factor of Safety of 2.
  • A maximum deflection of 4mm.
The key questions for a successful project are:
  1. What print settings will yield a part that meets the above requirements?
  2. Will those print settings minimize both print time and material utilization (and therefore cost)?

Without Smart Slice, the only way to meet the application requirements is to test different slicer settings, print the part and test the results.  Then, observe the results, reset the print settings and try again.  All of the time and material spent on trial and error can result in unexpected delays.  We know from experience that anywhere from 5 to 25 iterations are required to get a satisfactory part.  

After iterating, it turns out that if we print the part with a 60% infill, we meet the requirements and get the results shown in the table below.  Note this part will take over 37 hours to print and requires about 175 grams of material.

Pivot Arm Validation Results

With Smart Slice, you can use the application requirements above and feature the 'Optimize' capability to meet our objectives and reduce print time to just over 32 hours and the mass to 147g.

Pivot Arm Optimize Results

How does this equate to cost savings?  Using Teton's cost analysis spreadsheet, we enter the baseline cost drivers assuming 5 iterations to get an acceptable part and a Production Quantity of 25:

Cost Analysis Inputs

Shown below are the true costs with and without Smart Slice:

Cost Analysis Outputs - New

It is important to note that there are additional costs involved when we iterate on a part in Pre-Production.  For example each iteration has an associated testing cost that we have not included in the analysis.

Smart Slice can save over $6,000.  The value proposition is clear, Smart Slice more than pays for itself on a single project!  Ready for a free trial?  Click below to get started.

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