Buying a 3D printer is not all. As is the case with other kinds of devices, operating it has its costs as well. You might have heard that the printing materials are expensive and on top of that you have to pay for the software. In fact, costs of printing don’t have to be high.
3D printing is worlds apart from traditional printers but when it comes to using them, there’s some things they have in common. With printers that you can find in any office the printer itself is usually just the tip of the iceberg and buying the toner will easily surpass the cost of the printer. Similarly, with 3D printing the cost of the printer can be minuscule when compared to the cost of the printing material, or filament. However, you should keep in mind that the material will be used up in its entirety when printing.
Things to Take into Consideration
If you compare 3D printing to other manufacturing methods, you’ll see it’s significantly cheaper. One of the reasons is that 3D printing leaves little waste: just the support, or elements which help your item acquire its shape. With a lathe the amount of waste is considerably higher. That’s why 3D printing is regarded as one of the fastest and least expensive methods of prototyping. Moreover, it’s beneficial to the environment thanks to not producing much waste.
When you’re considering the purchase of a 3D printer, you should check the availability of materials and tech support as well as any additional costs to avoid disappointment and surprises. A plug & play 3D printer such as the Zortrax printers is worth considering. With the Zortrax M200 and Zortrax M300 you won’t have any problems regarding filaments. The manufacturer uses a dedicated material, so you avoid the risks of using an incompatible filament and resulting malfunctions. Moreover, the material is readily available, both in shops for specialists as well as online (e.g. Amazon). The selection is constantly increased as new colors are added. Prices depend on the type of material and range from about 21 to less than 200 USD.
How Much Does a Single 3D Printed Model Cost?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to calculate, how much a single 3D print-out will cost. This is mainly due to the fact that every model is different. There will be a huge difference between the cost of a lampshade and a keychain. If you want precise calculations, you also need to take the 3D printer’s worktime into consideration. All in all, a small element might cost less than a dollar, but large ones can come close to 100 dollars. The cost stemming from filament use depends on more than just size. The layer thickness and infill are also crucial. With full infill the printing will be more expensive than if you choose shell or medium infill methods. This also determines the durability and other characteristics of the item, so in many cases you simply cannot save money through choosing a different type of infill. Only once printing is complete and you know how much material you’ve used and how long the 3D printer operated can you calculate the cost of the model.
You can save money, if you choose 3D modeling software that’s available free of charge. With a Zortrax 3D printer you receive the Z-SUITE software, which lets you prepare models for printing. You don’t need any other software, but there are also open source solutions whose functionality would give even the most expensive 3D graphics software a run for its money.
A Wise Decision
Selecting the right 3D printer will also let you save money thanks to high-quality tech support, low malfunction rate and user-friendliness. When considering your purchase you shouldn’t forget these additional benefits. If your printer doesn’t guarantee any of them, the cost of using it will increase significantly in ways you might not predict. The filament is just one part of the overall cost.
3D printing is cheaper than many other manufacturing methods. It allows for rapid prototyping and prevent large amounts of waste. With tried and tested 3D printers, such as those by Zortrax, operating them is simple and dedicated filaments are readily available at predictable prices. But you have to remember that it’s the infill and the type of material that determines the ultimate cost of printing. But the cost will never be high.