Unveiling the Price of Innovation: A Comprehensive Guide to Metal 3D Printing Costs

How much does metal 3d printing cost

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Metal 3D printing can cost thousands of dollars mainly because of the other factors required to construct metal 3D prints.

These factors generally include the price range of materials used, the size and complexity of the object being printed, the 3D printing process used, your general service charges, and the service provider or equipment used for constructing the metal.

Here, we will also answer all your questions revolving around factors that affect the cost of a metal 3D print and put the technicalities associated with metal 3D printing to rest. 

This article contains all you need to create an approximation of the cost of a metal 3D print. Keep reading!

What Is Metal 3D Printing?

Source: pexel

Metal 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that selectively fuses 3D printing metal materials such as powder to create complex three-dimensional designs through either a melting or sintering process.

This metal manufacturing process offers many benefits such as increased accuracy and decreased production costs when compared to traditional methods.

The process is generally faster than traditional machining processes, so it can quickly create parts with intricate shapes and complex geometries with a large of materials while still reducing wasted filaments.

You should note that metal 3D printing is often used in the aerospace, automotive, medical, and industrial sectors for the production of parts that are too complex to be machined.

The Total Cost of Metal 3D Printing for Businesses

Business Production CostTotal Cost Range
Cost of Printer$3,000 – over $1 million
Labour Cost$10 – $50 per hour$30,000 – $150,000 per year
Cost of Post-processes Printed Parts$10 – $200
Total$3,020 – over $1,350,000

The products from metal 3D printing indeed have enough perks to attract anyone. One of its perks is that, unlike traditional methods, its production volumes can be of higher sturdy quality.

However, it is still essential to consider the total cost the metal printing process will generate. Considering the total cost will help you have a more accurate and visible budget if you want to start a 3D printing business.

To get more reliable cost estimates, we recommend you understand the must-considered production costs stated below:

Cost of Printer

Metal 3D printers come with a hefty price tag. The cost can range from 3,000 to over 1 million dollars depending on your facility needs and the size, type, and features of the printer. The average cost of mid-sized industrial printers though ranges around 50,000 to 250,000 dollars and they offer improved resolution and higher precision than desktop models.

Labour Cost

Labour costs can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the part being printed and the skill level of the technician running the machine.

Safety measures must also be taken into account when assessing labour costs for metal 3d printing projects due to the hazards such as heat and toxic emissions while the process is underway.

Most times, the labour may cost you around 10 to 50 dollars per hour and 30,000 to 150,000 dollars per year. Fortunately, there are more creative and budget-friendly ways to pay labour. All you have to do is find one friendly to your vision or goals.

Cost of Post-processing

The cost of post-processing ranges from 10 to 200 dollars. It can cost more because it depends on the materials, labour type, and complexity of the metal 3D-printed parts. Meanwhile, some 3D printing materials may require specialized tools or equipment for post-processing and heat treatment, adding to the cost.

However, even with these additional costs, when compared to traditional methods like Metal Injection Molding (MIM) or conventional machining with metal rods/bars, there are distinct advantages like layer-by-layer melting of metal, allowing for intricate details, more advanced designs and design freedom impossible in traditional methods.

Partnering with a 3D printing service provider will give you access to experienced professionals who understand the nuances of printing and can provide valuable insights into choosing suitable printing machines, materials, post-processing steps, and other considerations.

This can minimize business manufacturing costs and ensure a successful outcome for any project. With the right approach, 3D printing metal parts can be profitable even as an expensive solution for producing complex parts quickly.

Factors Affecting the Total Cost of Metal 3D Printing

While considering the cost of metal 3D printing, you should ensure that you leave no stone unturned. Therefore, it follows that you pay rapt attention to the following factors:

Metal Printer Type

The type of 3D metal printer used for 3D printing metals can range from desktop models to large industrial-grade machines with varying speeds, capabilities, and price points.

Manufacturing cost reduction depends on using a specifically designed printer for metal 3D printing. These printers often employ novel technologies that can result in significant savings.

Metal Material Used

The type of metal used for 3D printing will also affect the material cost, as some metals, such as titanium, are quite expensive while others, such as aluminium, are relatively affordable.

The most common metals for 3D printing are aluminium alloy, stainless steel, tool steel, and titanium. These metals can vary significantly in price depending on the grade, size, and quantity purchased.

Print Size and Complexity

The size and complexity of the printed part will impact the print’s cost. For example, more significant part or parts with more intricate features will cost more than smaller, simpler prints.

Setup and Post-processing

The setup time required for the metal 3D printing process can be pretty long, and additional post-processing steps often accompany the process.

Post-processing steps include removing support structures, smoothing the surface, removing loose powder, washing, heat treating, anodizing, painting or powder coating, the finishing stage, and assembly, which add to the overall cost of metal 3D printing.

Printing Technology Used

The type of 3D printing technology used will also affect the cost of metal 3D printing. 3D printing processes like selective laser melting (SLM) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) are generally more expensive than Metal Binder Jetting or Metal Extrusion technologies due to the high cost of materials and processing time.

The four main types of 3D metal printing technologies are Metal Powder Bed Fusion 3D printing (SLS, SLM, DMP), Directed Energy Deposition (DED), Metal filament extrusion (FFF, FDM) Material Jetting, and Binder Jetting.

Types of Filament

Filaments vary significantly in price range, with some materials being more expensive than others. Certain filaments may require special equipment, which can further add to the overall cost of metal 3D printing.

Layer Thickness

Thinner layers result in faster, less expensive prints. Thinner layers also require more time and post-processing steps, which can further increase the cost.

The Volume of the Printing Job

The cost of metal 3D printing can increase when the volume increases, as more material and time are required to complete the job. Some service providers may offer quantity discounts for larger orders, which can significantly reduce the cost of metal 3D printing.

Cost of Infill

A higher infill percentage will require more material and time, resulting in increased costs. It is essential to consider the part’s design and determine if a high infill is necessary for the application.

All these factors make it possible to get an accurate estimate of the costs associated with metal 3D printing.

Fortunately, you don’t have to bother about the operating cost of most of the factors that could affect your metal 3D prints if you employ a Metal 3D printer service. Moreover, consulting a metal 3D printer service will help you reduce overall costs as consultants are more aware of these factors and can offer more cost-effective solutions.

Supposing you still want to construct the 3D metal parts yourself, you can consider reducing the production cost by selecting alternative materials and post-processing steps.

FAQs

Is 3D Printing Cheaper Than Manufacturing?

Yes, 3D printing can be more cost-effective than traditional manufacturing methods. For example, digital metal technologies such as Laser Metal Fusion (or LMF) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (or DMLS) offer significant cost savings when compared to traditional manufacturing processes.

How Much Does It Usually Cost to 3D Print Metal?

3D printing metal price ranges from $50 to 300 dollars per hour. The cost depends on the type of metal used, the post-processing requirements, and the part’s complexity. Functional prototypes are more expensive than decorative ones.

What Processes Are Used in 3D Printing Metals?

Metal 3D printing technologies include metal extrusion, bound metal deposition, laser metal sintering, digital metal, advanced metal lasers, and bond metal powder particles. These processes are used to create functional metal prototypes with excellent material properties.

What Are the Design Rules for Printing Metal Parts?

Designers must consider printability requirements when designing 3D-printed metal parts. This includes minimum wall thickness, maximum overhang angles, and minimum internal radii. Also, the strength of the metal being used ensures that the desired results can be achieved.

What Are Some Post-printing Steps for Metal 3D Prints?

Post-processing requirements vary based on the printing process and the desired result. Standard post-processing techniques for metal prints include sandblasting, hot tumbling, polishing, and ultrasonic cleaning.

Final Thoughts

Metal 3D printing is an innovative technology that enables businesses to create complex components quickly and cost-effectively.

Businesses can also save money and time when producing their products by negotiating the price of the various factors that contribute to the costs of 3D printing. Examples of these contributing factors are the price of the metal and metal 3D printer, post-processing steps, and material expenses.

Anyway, you should always remember that partnering with experienced Metal 3D printer services is the best way to ensure cost-efficient and high-quality metal prints. So fly on the wings of Metal 3D printing services today and surpass expectations with your next production run. It’s definitely going to be worth it.

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