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3D Printing Cost Calculation Online

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3D Printing Cost Calculation Online

the costs of 3D printing

For calculating the cost of a Print 3D Online  first of all, it is necessary to describe and make a clear distinction between the different technologies made available by the various 3D printer manufacturers.

Certainly among the parameters that most influence the price estimate, we find the 3d printing technology used, the dimensions and geometric characteristics of the object to be created, that, for example, due to the possible presence of overhangs and very inclined surfaces, it may also be necessary to print simultaneously more or less voluminous support supports, with the consequent increase in printing times and the necessary 3D filament.

The printing technology used is certainly very important, which certainly significantly affects both the quality and the costs of Online 3D printing. The most common is certainly the “FDM 3D Printing Technology“, (Fused Deposition Modeling), which is based on the hot extrusion of a plastic filament by a hot terminal body (Hot End), usually terminated on some sort of 1.75mm diameter nozzle.

With FDM printing, even quite complex geometries and even cavities can be created layer by layer,  it also has a fairly light impact on the environment as compared to other much more complex technologies, it consumes little electricity and has the advantage of being able to print particularly ecological plastics as they are derived from vegetable fibres, such as PLA filament.

Even SLA 3D printing “stereolithography”, it has become almost as cheap and as widespread as FDM,  was invented in the 80s, and it was the first 3D printing technology ever used.

It is still one of the most adopted technologies at a professional level and unlike the FDM technology which carries out the mechanical extrusion of a plastic filament, uses a laser or high-resolution LCD display to cure liquid resin layer by layer in the process of light curing.

Today the performance of SLA printers is increasing rapidly almost exponentially, thanks to the recent adoption of very high definition LCD panels, in place of the laser to cure the resin more economically and effectively. In fact, the price of 3D resins today is very close to that of commonly used 3D filaments such as PLA, PETG, ABS etc.

For calculating the costs of an online 3d print, we will refer to the FDM technology adopted by ourselves, so the overall price to make a particular item will essentially be about:

  • the time necessary for its printing and therefore of the necessary electricity.
  • the cost per kg of the plastic filament used.
  • the maintenance costs of the 3D printer and therefore its depreciation over the useful life period.
  • unforeseen events that interrupt a print already started some time ago and therefore to be redone completely.

Calculating the time needed to print a certain object is very important because it evidently affects the wear of the mechanics of the 3D printer and consequently also in the estimate of the price that the customer will have to bear. Nonetheless, the costs calculated with reference to the consumption of electricity for the entire duration of the entire printing session have an impact.

The prices of the plastic filaments used for 3D printing can vary significantly based on the nature and characteristics of the material used, there are filaments that cost even less than 20 euro per kg and others of a special type, such as those loaded with metal nano particles, which can easily exceed the cost of 500 Euros per kilogram.

Generalizing, we can say that these charges in an FDM 3D printer, affect on average from a minimum of 50 cents per hour for objects to be printed in PLA, when the extruder is heated a 200 °C and the build platform is heated to around 50 degrees.

Considering instead the printing of objects to be made with more materials “technicians” come l’ABS, PETG and in particular NYLON,  an hourly cost of almost one Euro could be assumed, in fact in this context the printing platform will have to be permanently heated between the 80 and i 100 °C to prevent the piece from detaching from the plate starting from the corners due to the well-known Warping phenomenon, while the extruder must be brought to a temperature between 230 and i 270 Degrees, depending on the type of filament adopted among those just mentioned.

Regarding the calculation of the maintenance costs of 3D printers, it is evident that in the case of intensive exploitation of these machines, these too can certainly have a significant impact. In fact, both the stepper motors and the mechanical parts that allow the movement of the printing plate, including filament extruder, they are seriously stressed throughout the processing time.

In practice all these parts remain in continuous movement even for many hours, moreover, the extruder must also be periodically maintained, since the inner duct, especially in processes that require many retractions of the filament, could easily get clogged, therefore it will have to be completely disassembled for its cleaning. Furthermore, even the nozzles wear out regularly, compromising the quality of the print at a certain point and creating the conditions for possible blockages.

Naturally, wear is connected to the depreciation of the printer, in fact, if the cost incurred to purchase it is divided by the number of hours presumed to last for it, you can get an indicative idea of ​​how much the wear and tear would cost for each hour of use.

Finally, possible unforeseen events cannot be overlooked,  an imperfect or interrupted print perhaps more than half of the work and therefore to be redone completely, resulting in a waste of time, energy and material.

More rare but not impossible are the sudden failures of the 3D printer which involve an extraordinary maintenance intervention with the replacement of the damaged parts.

From the foregoing it is clear that to calculate the price of a 3D print, it is a question of carrying out a whole series of analytical operations based on the various evaluations that we have exposed to you. To do this obviously it is necessary to spend a certainly not negligible time for their elaboration.

Also if we do not have a printer and we have to contact a professional 3D printing service. we must also estimate what will be the mark-up percentage that the company will ask us to ensure a reasonable profit and to cover all the fixed and variable costs mentioned above.

Our company, for example, in the case of printing relatively simple objects with PLA, that do not require the use of print media and other special precautions, apply very low prices, even starting at less than 5 Euros per hour, all included.

However in order to do thecalculation of the cost of a 3D print, quickly and easily, we have published a simple and intuitive software tool that automatically creates a personalized online quote, immediately showing on the screen the approximate costs for printing the requested object.

This procedure for the cost calculation is simple, free and immediate. It also allows the customer to customize the quote by being able to choose the type of plastic desired, the color and fill factor of the object to be printed, which can be set from a minimum of 10%, up to a maximum of 100%.

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