It was reinforced into our brains that 3D printing technology is ‘economical mass manufacturing’ tool and a splendid technology that can be used by startups to integrate with a creative idea. But do you really think it is economical when it is not used for ‘mass production use’ and merely used for printing small objects?
Is it really monetarily beneficial for the long run use and worth the hefty investment? Initially when people were made aware of this technology, everyone wanted to get their hands on a 3D printer and just start printing things, be it a pencil stand, a vase or a phone case.
But with time people have started questioning whether the actual ‘economic’ aspect of using a 3D printer is true or not.
If you are a businessman already into the whole 3D printing thing, you might just go ahead and press ‘print’ without thinking too much, but if you are thinking of buying a 3D printer for your office or home or if you are just starting out with the 3D printer trend that is viral right now, you would want to know the cost effectiveness that a 3D printer has.
3d printed cup – how much does it cost to 3d print a cup – Chizel Prints3D Printing Cost Analysis
To get the idea from the start, 3D printing cost for even a cubic inch of any material is expensive. Starting off to calculate the cost required to 3D print anything small or large you need to keep a check on the following factors:
- Design of the Prototype. You need to have a CAD design of the prototype you want to 3D print before you can start estimating the cost that you will incur to actually 3D print it.
- Type of material to be used. Cost of 3D printing material tends to be different. In order to chalk out the cost you need to be sure which material you want to use to 3D print your object.
- Type of technology that you will use. Even though this again has many counterparts to look into depending on your situation, you need to be sure of you are 3D printing it yourself, or outsourcing the 3D print, how is the service being charged, what type of technology is being used, what is the filament cost that is being calculated etc.
3D printing cost India
In India, the general equation that is used by most of the 3D printing service providers is this
Start up cost(your time) + print time(electric_cost) + filament_cost*markup(profit) + average_maintenance cost_hours_of_run time_until_maintenance/hours of run time = asking_price [Source].
Some companies charge on the basis of weight of the design, some charge on the basis of per hour prototypes printed, some charge on the basis of per prototype printed, and so on the cost calculation of every service provider differs. But just to give an overview lets see how much does it cost to 3D print a cup.
As we know 1 customary cup size = 14.437 cubic inch.
(Please note this formula will give you an approximate costing which might deviate as much as 50%)
Step 1: Calculate the Bounding Box.
As mentioned most 3D printers, use some key parameters like bounding box, layer thickness, orientation of part, infill percentage, consumed material, support material etc. to calculate the costing of the part. To calculate the approximate costing, we can consider only the bounding box of the part.
Imagine the bounding box of your design in centimeters. (Generally speaking 3D printing should be used for smaller parts) For instance consider this part which is 10 x 5 x 6 cms = 300 cubic centimeter, which is approximately 18.31 cubic inch. Which infers to approximately 1.268 customary cup size.
Step 2: Assume the actual consumed material percentage
Now, you need to think of the actual consumed material volume i.e. how much percentage of total bounding box will be the actual consumed material.
For instance, here we are taking a customary cup size which tends to be 14.43 cubic inch.
Think of it like this: Imagine you want to 3D print a cube of bounding box (shown below) 2 cms x 2 cms x 2 cms that will have a volume of 8 cubic centimeter or 0.49 cubic inch.
But imagine if we make it hollow with a wall thickness of 1 mm, the actual consumed material volume will be 2 cubic centimeter/ 0.122 cubic inch (approx.). So your actual consumed material percentage is 25%.
Be diligent as much as possible while assuming this percentage. IT WILL AFFECT THE COSTING SIGNIFICANTLY.
Step 3: Assuming Material Cost
To keep it simple, consider the rate of 3D printing to be INR 100 / cubic centimeter or approx. INR 1638 / cubic inch.
Which means for 1 customary cup (ie. 14.43 cubic inch) the cost is approx. INR 23,636.34 . (I am assuming this cost to obtain a decent quality prototype. You will find companies quoting as low as INR 5 / cubic centimeter to INR 400 / cubic centimeter depending on quality, material, precision, timelines etc).
This price is deduced by calculating the average of all the prototypes that we did.
Step 4: The Cost
You must have figured out what needs to be done in step 4. If in case you haven’t, simply multiple Step 1 x Step 2 x Step 3.
In above example: Approx. costing = 300 x 0.2 x 100 = INR 6,000/-
Again, this cost can vary as much as +/- 50% in cases. But for the standard quality prototype, that is the price.[Source]
There are now calculators available that enable you to calculate the cost of prototypes much easily. It provides calculations with regard to weight, volume, material used, printer power consumed, electricity consumed, etc. Check out more information on how to calculate cost running of 3D printer, cost of materials- cost compare and how much to charge