3D Printing: 3 Elements of Cost to Monitor

As we all know, 3D printing has become something of a big deal over recent years.

When it first entered the scene several years ago, there’s no doubt that it was grossly expensive and not affordable to most businesses. Now, things have changed, and it’s even accessible to the Average Joe who is perhaps sat making things in his garage. Of course, today’s article isn’t going to focus on said individual. It’s instead going to look at the bigger uses for 3D printing, which of course result in those bigger costs.

There’s no doubt that it can still be prohibitive in some cases, which is why specialist 3D printing services are very popular. If you are looking to break the cost of a 3D printer down though, we will now take a look at some of the areas that you need to consider.

The Running Costs

If you’re looking for some good news, we’ll point you in the direction of the running costs straight away. From a power perspective, a 3D printer is comparable to a laptop. Then, if we take things further, if this was to be compared to an industrial manufacturing machine the costs are significantly lower. The fact that complex shapes can be manufactured within just one step means that in terms of energy, you really don’t need to have many concerns about 3D printing.

The Cost of Materials

This next cost is a little more variable and is going to vary depending on the type of printing that you are going to be commissioning. For example, if you are looking to turn to a Desktop FDM printer, you will be lucky in the sense that you can use filament coils that are exceptionally cheap to purchase (around $25/kg). However, if we then turn to SLA printing, this cost suddenly shoots up to $150/litre of resin.

So, how does this compare to traditional forms of manufacturing? Naturally, this is the key question for a lot of businesses but unfortunately, it’s not an easy one to answer. This is because traditional manufacturing takes advantage of a much wider array of materials, with costs varying between a couple of dollars and several hundred dollars. Ultimately, you need to establish what the traditional alternatives are if you are looking to baseline your costs on something.

The Cost of Labour

Well, following on from the previous grey area, let’s conclude with some good news.

There’s no doubt that one of the main reasons why businesses are turning to 3D printing more and more is because of the decreased labour costs. Once a design is agreed, just one operator is required to process and manufacture the part. This is in stark contrast to traditional manufacturing, which might involve several professionals working across various machines. These professionals have to be trained to use the machines and considering all of the health and safety concerns in a factory environment, this is something that can cost companies a significant amount of money.