Welcome to my new video. In this one, I will discuss about 3D printing cost. I always get requests to print and design something. Almost always I reply: design can be quick and easy, but the prints are not cheap and fast. Why? Let’s see. I discuss what parameters influence the total cost and how to calculate it. It’s a bit tricky. My final goal here is to make calculations in a format per print hour cost + filament cost, as this is the quickest way to give out the final number. If you are one of those geeks, who will print something anyways, regardless the cost, skip this video, but don’t forget to hit LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE. Subscribers will be informed about new videos when they are published. Yeah, and I have received no payment for this video.
So, let’s start at the beginning. I will go over parameters in logical order. Answering this complex question of cost is not 100%, as there are many parameters and I will probably miss some minor cost. At the end I will show an example. We will slice an owl statue from Thingiverse in Cura slicer.
1. First one is initial printer cost. This brings a plethora of variables. Most are assumptions. As I have mentioned in my previous videos, my printer cost around 350€. Upgrades were 100€, not calculating my research, failure and build time. I estimate the printer worth is around 500€.
I assume that anything you buy nowadays last around 4-5 years. After that it is either outdated or it is worn out to the extent you can not get the spare parts anymore. So 5 years it is. Its lifetime surely depends on the printing hours. I could again assume home printers are meant to run maximum 1-2 hours per day in its lifetime. This makes between (5*356*2=3650) 1800-3600 working hours. Middle is 2700 hours. So the working hour cost is whole price divided by working hours. In my case 18.52 cents per hour.
2. Let’s advance further. Electricity cost. I do most of my prints during the day as I want to supervise them. In my country 1 KWh cost 16.6 cents. My printer has two 100W power supplys. Luckily I measure all individual power consumers in my home via my own home automation system. Startup heating takes full power, but afterwards they on average consume 140 watts per hour. This makes 2.32 cents per hour.
3. While printing you need consumables like duct tape or glue, cleaning equipment, certain tools. Cost is very hard to calculate. Not to even mention printer spare parts, if we are talking about maintenance. There are bearings, belts, motors, extruder, wires, grease, SD cards. Thanks to cheap China suppliers, this rounds to about 20% of total initial printer cost in printer lifetime. Assumption is made on many internet sites I have reviewed for this video. Out of 2700 total work hour this makes 3.7 cents per print hour.
4. Hardware and software cost. Personal computer, operating system, slicer software. As we almost always can find old computers and we can use free Linux and free slicers, I will conclude zero cents per hour. I do not want to make a 10 hour video on PC peripherals. I assume we quickly process the object, save the GCODE to SD card and insert it into printer, so no additional electricity cost from PC.
5. Many 3D object slicers calculate the required filament weight for the object. This is not the end object weight. Many times there are supports and rafts too. These are removed from the object at the end. It is best to use slicer’s values as they are correct if your settings in the slicer are correct. Verified from my side. The only thing, that many times deviates from slicers’ calculations, are print time estimates. We should also calculate shipping too. Maybe we should consider filament type and storage maintenance.
6. Another important parameter regarding our printing is failure rate. Even experienced manufacturers have failure rate. Well, just 1% according to Google search. Average user around 10-20%. Mostly depending on the filament used and print speed. PLA has the lowest failure rate. So I will presume failure rate of 15%.
7. During every print we also have to supervise the process. I found out nobody really considers the learning curve as a cost too. This means there is our personal cost per hour too.
1 – initial printer cost + upgrades @ lifetime -> 18.52c/h
2 – average power consumption * electricity cost * run hour -> 2.32c/h
3 – consumables (tape, glue, tools…) + printer spare parts (bearings, belts, motors, extruder, wires, grease, electronics) -> 3.7c/h
4 – PC + software (OS, slicer) -> 0.00c/h ???
5 – object specific: filament consumption in weight, printing hours. Shipping cost. Type of filament. Cost: weight. -> XXXc/product
6 – 3D printing failures in % -> 15% of total costs
7 – personal cost -> ???c/h
Example and final calculation:
I chose owl statue from Thingiverse. I used latest Repetier host and latest Cura slicer. You can see them run in parallel. In both cases I use the same settings and slice with Cura. Object is downscaled to 50%. 0.2mm layer height. I used PLA fillament. It costs 30€ per kilo. Shipping included. So 1g makes 3 cents.
10% 4.50m 2.34m 18g=54c 76min
20% 6.00m 2.87m 22g=66c 87min
50% 10.50m 4.48m 35g=105c 120min
100% 17.64m 7.11m 56g=168c 253min
In Repetier host I selected 3mm wide walls. As you can already see the inbuilt Repetier Cura slicer makes more cost. I have to mention the standalone Cura slicer is a completely rewritten and most up to date. You can also see the infill makes a great difference in cost.
I decided or 10% infill. This takes my 75 minutes and 54 cents of my money for the filament.
In example summary,
– initial printer cost + upgrades @ lifetime -> 18.52c/h -> 23.15 cents
– power consumption * electricity cost * run hour -> 2.32c/h -> 2.90 cents
– consumables (tape, glue, tools…) + printer spare parts (Bearings, belts, motors, extruder, wires, grease, electronics) -> 3.7c/h -> 4.62 cents
– PC + software price (OS, slicer) -> 0.00c/h ??? -> 0 cents
– object specific: filament consumption. Shipping cost. -> 54 cents, no shipping
– personal cost -> ???c/h
Together up to now: 84.67 cents + personal time
– 3D printing failures in % -> 15% of total costs
Altogether: 97.37 cents + personal time
While gathering statistics on internet I found there are even some online calculators. You can see the links in the description below. Most of them just calculate filament and electricity cost.
The most interesting one is the last one, which considers most of my parameters too. The suggested values differ a bit, but I am sure of mine, as I have proven them or have them found throughout the internet.
While searching, I have also found many 3D printing service throughout the world.
Thank you for watching this video. Don’t forget to hit LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE. And see my other videos.
We will see what parameters influence the 3D printing cost. There are 7 items that make rough end price. Less important items are mentioned too. We will learn how to calculate the price. I will show you real example.
In the comments below we can discuss detail.
3D print calculators:
3D print service: