Are you a 3D printing enthusiast or a professional who wants to start 3D printing from home? You’d be pleased to learn of the immense value of in-house 3D printing.
One of these benefits includes the ability to stretch your imagination as you experiment with various applications.
While considering whether you should venture into 3D printing, look into the most critical factor: cost. The printer’s overall power usage and material costs determine whether or not it’s a viable idea.
- So, How Much Does It Cost to Run a 3D Printer?
- Electricity Costs (Power Consumption)
- Materials Costs
- Maintenance Costs
So, How Much Does It Cost to Run a 3D Printer?
The overall cost of running a 3D printer depends on so many factors. You’ll need a substantial budget for energy costs, the machine’s initial cost, filament or resin material expenses, and other miscellaneous items.
Such items include other consumables like paper towels, isopropyl alcohol, and rubber which are an essential part of the process.
In addition, consider the upfront cost for the printer, accessories, and tools. More significantly, to operate a printer for 8 hours a day, expect to incur at least $5.
Electricity Costs (Power Consumption)
The initial investment capital for the 3D printer and printing materials are critical aspects of the 3D printing process.
However, when looking at 3D printing, and the overall power consumption costs, you need to measure electric power consumption in kilowatt-hour units.
How Much Power Does a 3D Printer Use?
The average 3D printer with a heated bed temperature of 60 degrees Celsius and a nozzle temperature of 206 degrees Celsius uses approximately 70 watts of power per hour.
That translates to 0.7 kilowatt-hours for a 10-hour print, which costs an average of 9 cents in the US. More significantly, how much electric power usage for a 3D printer depends on the printer type, size, nozzle, and heated bed temperature.
What Determines the Cost of Power Consumption in 3D Printing?
In 3D printing, the printer power usage is determined by what the printer does at each stage of the printing process. When you turn your 3D printer on, it starts pre-heating to set temperatures suitable for the nozzle and the heated build platform.
Significantly, if the build plate size is large, your 3D printer will consume more power than when it starts the actual 3D printing process.
The 3D printer and filament material type have a bearing on the electricity required. You must heat the built platform and the nozzle to the required temperature settings for better quality prints.
Also, the electricity supply has to rise for the heated bed to retain its ideal temperature. The electricity will cost significantly higher for the heated bed.
If you set your 3D printer heated bed temperature at a maximum, you will incur a higher electricity cost. Additionally, a medium or a lower setting will lower electricity costs.
The lower the thickness of the layer, the more the time it takes to 3D print leading to higher use of power as you build volume.
The size of the print nozzle affects the use of power, and a larger nozzle costs more in kWh.
You can also achieve print quality and lower the cost of power by speeding up the print process. Equally, the 3D printer nozzle and print bed heating efficiency result in less power.
The average 3D printer uses almost similar electricity power to a standard fridge.
Can You Control Your 3D Printer Power Supply?
Yes, you can control the power supply in your 3D printer for lower electricity use!
You can quickly determine the limits of your 3D printer electricity supply by checking the printer specification on the power source and then setting the maximum and minimum power limits before you start printing.
Next, set up your 3D printer as per the manufacturer’s parameters on speed, print end, and build platform temperatures since these influence the final printer power consumption.
Significantly, appropriate printer power settings enable you to lower electricity usage. Also, avoid a power outage as it disrupts printing.
What Are the Main 3D Printing Technologies and the Materials they Use for Print Quality?
Numerous 3D printing technologies in the industry create high-quality prototypes, with each technology deploying a unique set of techniques to create parts.
While one technology may be suited for plastic filaments such as the PLA and ABS, other methods may use a different material such as resin or polymer powder.
The range of materials used differs in composition, format, and nature.
. The range of plastic filaments and other materials used for 3D printing include:
- Liquid Resin
- Other special material
The actual material cost ranges from $15 -to $1000 per kilogram. The material type used to create models, the quality, and the quantity in kilograms and meters are among the many variable costs influencing the actual cost of printing material.
Significantly, the material used in 3D printing varies in nature and format, for example, filaments, paper, metal wire, and powders.
The selection of 3D technologies and materials used keeps growing, providing professionals and hobbyists with a wide range of options for printing.
We purpose to concentrate on three technologies and the materials they use to determine these material costs.
- One of the most commonly used technologies in 3D printing is material extrusion technology. It’s referred to as FDM technology.
- The second method is VAT photopolymerization. It includes techniques such as SLA, LCD, and DLP.
- The third technology remains the powder bed fusion which is more pronounced in SLS, SLM, DML, and EBM.
3D Filament Cost
Fused Deposition Modeling remains the most popular material extrusion technology. Unlike SLS printing, FDM printers use thermoplastic filament materials.
More significantly, the cost of the plastic filament used depends on the polymer used to manufacture it.
PLA stands for polylactic acid. It is one of the most used filaments in 3D printing. Notably, manufacturers produce PLA from natural plants like corn starch and sugarcane.
In the market, you’ll find it in different brands and grades. Nonetheless, a standard PLA filament costs $15-$20 per kilogram.
Also, more advanced versions of PLA cost a bit more. For example, the Silk PLA costs $30, while the color-changing PLA goes for an average of $40.
It is a popular plastic filament you obtain from petroleum products. It’s primarily used in injection molding processes and is known for creating durable final prints. It is because ABS has excellent mechanical properties.
However, ABS emits toxic fumes during 3D printing, and it could be harmful to your health if you inhale a significant amount of these fumes.
ABS remains a relatively cheap filament at an average cost of $20 to $35.
VAT Polymerization Technology
Vat polymerization refers to resin 3D printing. It is the first-ever 3D printing technology.
It is a technology that works by curing layers of thermoset materials. Thermosets are polymers that don’t melt, as with thermoplastics. Significantly, it produces high-resolution 3D printed parts.
Resin remains the most commonly used thermoset in Vat polymerization, and it goes for $50. Also, you can find water-soluble resin on the market at a higher cost of $70.
Tough resin is an elevated brand of resin. You use tough resin to create a robust and durable printed part. Additionally, it enjoys similar mechanical properties to the ABS, making it suitable for printing durable objects.
Powder Bed Fusion Technology
It is a technology that creates end-user parts. It works by selectively fusing or melting powder material into layers with a laser heat source. Such a laser heat source could be an electron beam.
Polyamide, also known as PA, is the most popular polymer powder in powder bed fusion technology. The PA powder for SLS printers (PA 12 Nylon) costs $150-$225 per kg.
Extra materials you’ll need to print parts include consumable materials that add up the variable 3D printing costs for an FDM printer.
Isopropyl alcohol is one such material, and you’ll need it to clean up the printer bed to remove oil and other print residues.
The materials you’ll need that add to the cost of 3D printing include replacement parts. You’ll need to replace the printer Bowden tube and connectors in your printing endeavors.
Still, you’ll need post-processing materials to help in removing supports for the final product well for better print quality.
Hot end nozzle replacements and insulating sleeves replacements are an everyday undertaking. Luckily, they cost about $10 on average.
The 3D printer requires occasional maintenance services after an extended period of printing. Wear and tear have their toll on the movable parts of the printer, and you’ll need to replace broken parts for you to continue printing.
The most common part of the printer that needs replacing is the hot-end or the extruder nozzle. Abrasive filaments such as carbon fiber and other filaments tend to wear out the extruder nozzle.
Luckily, replacing an extruder nozzle is affordable at $3 for an essential brass nozzle replacement.
Is It Expensive to Own & Use a 3D Printer?
3D printer costs vary according to the printer’s technology and your individual printing needs. Other significant factors that influence the price of a 3D printer include the printer type, size, features, quality, durability, manufacturing brand, and performance.
- Entry-level 3D printers cost $300-$500
- High-end 3D printers cost $1500
- Professional 3D printers cost $1500-$20,000
- Industrial 3D printers cost $20,000-$100,000
Depending on your printer type, size, and features, the cost of replacing parts remains affordable for home users but high for industrial users.
Is 3D Printer Filament Expensive?
The cost of 3D printer filament depends on the filament type. However, most filament types are affordable, as seen below:
- PLA costs $10-$25 per kg
- ABS and PETG cost $15-$25 per kg
- ASA costs $30-$50 per kg
- Nylon cost $50-$60 per kg
- Polycarbonate costs $30-$60 per kg
- TPE costs $80-$100 per kg
How Much Filament Is in a 1KG Spool?
Different filament types will contain different quantities of filament. It depends on the filament density and diameter.
For example, one kilogram of PLA spool has a density of 1.24g/cm3 and a diameter of 1.75mm. Also, it contains 252.13 meters of filament.
How Much Does It Cost to Run a 3D Printer Per Hour?
If you reside in North America, then the kWh price is 12.69 cents, and the cost of 3D printing per hour stands at 1.58 cents.
Will a 3D Printer Raise the Electric Bill?
Your standard 3D printer will not significantly raise your electric bill unless you 3D print 24 hours a day. The electric power your 3D printer use depend on your printer size, the build platform, and nozzle temperatures.
A standard 3D printer of 205 degrees Celsius hot end temperature and 60 degrees Celsius print bed uses 70 watts. If you print for 10 hours, you’ll use 0.7kwh which costs around 9 cents.
How Often Do 3D Printers Need Maintenance?
Experts point out the need to perform routine maintenance of your 3D printer after 1500 hours of operation or after every two months.
However, you need to perform simple maintenance exercises after every print session to ensure that your printer is in great shape each time you start a new project.
You can break down the cost of running a 3D printer into two categories. The categories include the initial cost of buying the printer, maintenance, and running costs.
For home 3D printers, you can buy one at a price starting at around $300.
Running costs include the cost of filament material and electrical use and the maintenance, post-processing, and cost of printer parts replacement which are also essential.
Keep referring traffic to numerous small businesses so that they can acquire printing consumables at a lower price like generic PLA to save cost.
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