An answer to your question! #9 “What kind of materials, tolerances, and costs are associated with 3D printing?”

Steve asks:

3D Printing – I have a small part that I am considering having 3D Printed. The item is cylindrical 1.0″ high X 1.6″ diameter. It will have a 1″ diameter counter-bore to a depth of 0.75″. Once installed it will not be exposed to sunlight however it will be exposed to humidity. Temperature of installation location will not exceed 100 deg F. The part will be used to hold a potentiometer. Q: (1) generically what materials are readily available to 3D print such a part? (2) what tolerance can such a part be printed to? (3) Are there 3D printing shops that can do 1 to 5 pieces economically?

Sounds like a pretty cut-and-dry design that shouldn’t be too hard or costly to have printed. To start, 3D printers are capable of printing a variety of materials that are deposited layer by layer until your design is fully reproduced. The materials and process dictate the resolution, and as you see from the lists below, there is a pretty big difference between materials.

There was actually a pretty good and detailed explanation of 3D printing tech over on Shapeways website. There is also a great resources list on Ponoko where they have the “Best 3D Printing Blogs of 2011” and “Best 3D Printing Articles of 2010”.

– PA 2200 – $1.40/cm^3
– Acrylic-based photopolymer – $2.99/cm^3
– Stainless Steel – $8.00/cm^3
– The rest of their pricing is here

As for resolution:
– PA 2200 prints at 0.2mm res. with 0.7mm min. wall thickness.
– Acrylic-based photopolymer prints at 0.2mm res. with 1mm min. wall thickness
– Stainless prints at 1.0mm res. with 3mm min. wall thickness
– The rest of their specs are here

– UV Curable Resin – $3.39/cm^3
– Nylon / Polyamide – $1.70/cm^3
– Stainless Steel – $10.53/cm^3
– The rest of their materials are here

As for resolution:
– UV Curable Resin prints at 0.2mm res. and 1.0mm min. wall thickness.
– Nylon / Polyamide prints at 0.5mm res. and 1.0mm min. wall thickness.
– Stainless prints at 1.0mm res. and 3.0mm min. wall thickness.

These are just two of a bunch of companies that would be happy to assist with your design. You might even try talking with some folks over at RepRap and seeing if someone would help out and print something out of PLA or ABS!

I hope this has helped to answer your question and good luck with your design!

Next up is Eric with a question about involving the private sector in supporting STEM initiatives!

Don’t forget, everyone is invited to ask a question!

Click here!

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !


  1. Thank you! Exactly the type of information that I was looking for! The ball is now in my court to familiarize myself with the available materials and the resources you identified.


  2. Additional to this great information, I would suggest that if you can, print a single piece and then cast the rest yourself in a plastic resin. Casting materials are relatively inexpensive and it’s pretty easy to learn how to do it. has lots of products that would work well.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.