3D printers are fantastic for rapidly experimenting with designs and offering limited quantity of production parts. But 3D printed parts have some inherent limitations, especially when compared against injection molded plastic parts. These limitations can be generally categorized as strength and aesthetic.
Strength wise, 3D printed parts will always be weaker than the same geometry in injection molding. This weakness can be somewhat compensated for in the design, usually at the cost of extra weight. But even still there will always be a weak direction due to interlayer adhesion. For this reason I am offering a free lifetime warranty. If a 3D printed part purchased through this site ever breaks at any time, simply email a photo of the broken part along with your original order confirmation to receive a free replacement.
Aesthetically, 3D printed parts will always have some visible layers, seams, and other imperfections. I do my best to keep the printer at peak operating condition and to design around these characteristics so they don’t impact the usability and have limited aesthetic impact. But they will never be as flawless as injection molded parts.
Certain products I hope to get injection molded when the volumes justify it. These parts will generally be lighter weight AND stronger than their 3D printed counterparts (due to improved strength of injected plastic). If a 3D printed product you purchased through this site becomes available as an injection molded part, send me an email with your original order confirmation and I will send the upgraded injection molded part free of charge.
This 3D printed parts policy is my version of crowd sourcing the funds to provide you with quality products with minimal risk. If you have any questions about the policy feel free to email me.
Typical Aesthetics of 3D Printed Parts
Every part needs to contact the print bed with a flat surface and enough area to properly adhere to the bed. Some designs already have an inherent flat area to achieve this (black left), while others need one added where there normally wouldn’t be a flat zone (blue right, bottom of the photo). In this area a zig-zag pattern will be visible where the printer lays down the filament.
Visible Layers and Seams
3D printers operate by melting plastic and laying it down one layer at a time. These layers have some thickness to them and will be visible on the final part, especially on slopes where the horizontal distance is changing rapidly between layers. In the domed shape below notice how the layers become more pronounced toward the center where the slope of the dome becomes more horizontal.
Seams are a result of the print head changing height between layers where it briefly pauses then resumes. If there are corners on the part the seams can be somewhat hidden on them but will still be present.