Factors that Determine the Cost of 3D Printing

Many businesses and individuals use 3D printing due to its accuracy, ease of use, and suitability for complex designs. Most are drawn to 3D printing also because it can be used for both industrial grade and commercial grade products. Whichever it’s used for, it’s important to consider the cost before diving into the process. Many factors are responsible for the difference in costs, and in this blog, we will dive into what exactly those factors are and what can be done to reduce the cost.

What Determines the Cost of 3D Printing?

It’s important to know about the several factors that can determine the amount of capital you spend on printing or outsourcing projects. Below are the important factors to consider in the relationship between cost and 3D printing.

  • Setup Price – Setting up a 3d printer might be a difficult task to do alone, as many people wouldn’t want to damage the machine or trigger the wrong settings on a newly bought printer. In an effort to reduce incidents, most people hire 3D printer technicians. However, this comes at a high price.
  • Operation Price – To answer the question of how much does a 3D print cost, it’s important to look at the cost of operation. So, let’s say you decide to buy a $2000 3D printer that you plan to use 10 hours per day, for 2 years. Without factoring in the cost of repairs, maintenance, and electricity, the calculation would look something like this:
    • 10 hrs. per day x 365 days x 2 yrs. = 7300 printing hours
    • $2000 (cost of machine) \ 7300 printing hours = $0.27/hr. to run the printer
With the simple calculation above, we can conclude that the cost of operating this $2000 3D printer is $0.27/hr. In this case, if a 3D model takes 3 hours to print, it would cost about ($0.27 x 3hrs.) $0.81.
  • Maintenance Cost – 3D printers will deliver top-quality work, but without maintenance, their performance will decline. Maintenance costs comprise the cost for replacing and cleaning 3D printer parts. Depending on the parts and sophistication of the printer, this might cost a few hundred dollars.
  • Size and Complexity – In designing 3D prints, a 3D model is essential to creating a precise and accurate 3D print. These models provide the essential details needed for the production process. After looking at the 3D model, you should be able to estimate the final price of the print based on its complexity and size.

Ways to Reduce Cost

The cost of 3D printed parts or a 3D printing service depends on machine time and material cost. Therefore, to reduce costs, you should balance both aspects. Below are a few ways to reduce the 3D printing cost.

Use a Cheaper Material – The kind of materials used in your 3D printing goes a long way in the total cost spent. So, you should use a printing material with a balance of quality and cost.

Choose the Right Process – Different 3D printing technology has different costs. This can be due to the sophistication of the machine or the material. Therefore, it’s better to choose the technology within your capital range without compromising on functionality.

Save Printing Material – The larger the 3D model, the higher the 3D printing service cost. Reducing the size of the model means a lesser volume, which indicates a lesser amount of material needed for the print and, of course, less cost.

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