What does the price of 3D printing comprise?
The price of 3D printing is always case-specific. However, the formation of the price is relatively clear. In this post, we explore the factors affecting the price of 3D printing.
Price of 3D printing divided into parts
3D printing as a method of production differs from casting and machining in many ways. One big difference is the cost savings it renders in flexibility, speed, and low risk in production. Noteworthy is the price structure in 3D printing – it is slightly different from that in traditional production methods where the production of a single mould can be costly.
The price of 3D printing is largely determined by the volume of material and capacity of the equipment. The number of copies to be printed also affects the price. Let’s not forget the design work, which also incurs costs for production. Albeit good designing always pays off as a less costly production stage.
Material volume refers to the size of the component to be printed and the support structures it requires. The larger the component, the more material that goes into it, meaning more material costs per component. In terms of the size and shape of the component, however, 3D printing has the advantage over traditional methods in that there is really no need to leave anything extra in the component. You only need the most essential material and shape necessary for the component’s functionality because 3D printing makes it possible to produce very intricate shapes.
The capacity of the equipment depends on the material used to 3D print the component and the time it takes to print. In practice, it is therefore possible to calculate how many components can be produced in a given time, based on the capacity of the equipment. The physical size of the printer and how effectively the available space around it can be used, that is, how efficiently the components can be packed onto the print bed, also affect the capacity.
The number of copies understandably affects the price of 3D printing: the more copies, the higher the total price. The average price of a single component nevertheless decreases in larger production batches because, for example, designing costs can be distributed over several components. Good planning allows you to take advantage of the equipment capacity when printing several copies. This is directly reflected in the costs.
Designing and planning are extremely important stages in 3D printing. The design phase involves designing the shape of the component and making a model of it for the actual 3D printing. The component can at the same time be optimised in terms of material quantity, rigidity, fluidity, or other property. Designing is thus the stage at which materials that are unnecessary for the component’s functionality can be eliminated. The initial costs in 3D printing are in designing, which has an impact on the overall price, regardless of whether you produce one or one hundred components.
Different price for single components and serial production
The advantage of 3D printing compared to the more traditional production methods is evident in production of individual components, because designing and executing a print-ready 3D model is considerably cheaper (and faster) than producing an entirely new mould for injection moulding. However, 3D printing can also be used cost-effectively for producing small series.
At 3D Formtech, we have considered the different 3D printing needs of companies by calculating the prices of individual components and serial production with slightly different price calculators. The above-mentioned cost savings for serial production are possible when the designing costs are distributed over the entire series and when several components can be placed on the print bed at one time. When the components are carefully packed, the space needed is relatively much smaller than the space needed for one component, meaning that the price of one component in small series production can be a lot lower than the price of a single component. Generally speaking, the smaller the part the larger the quantity that can be produced cost-effectively.
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