Most people that intend on getting a three-dimensional printer for themself will pretty much have the same questions. One of the most popular questions is “how much does it cost to run a 3d printer per hour”. Well, this will depend on many aspects such as materials or temperature, which will be put on the table shortly.
Even though there were, are, and will be lots of attempts to realistic the making of a perpetual motion machine. Certainly, there are no machines that can work forever without consuming energy or matter. Even the planet Earth will expire someday so running a 3D printer will cost you a bit of money.
So, how much does it cost to run a 3D printer? Being said, this will depend on many aspects and conditions, and government policies will be involved too. Most of the predicted costs are voltage consumption and printing materials. And the ones that come after include such as the cleaning tool, including gloves, alcohol, or paper towels. This means we can not determine the default cost for every printer and printing project.
Because there are no default numbers to determine the cost, which means you’ll have to plan the cost by yourself. But don’t worry, this writing is all about helping you out in figuring the costs of your printer. So, shall we take a seat and talk about this?
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Why Should You Know The Cost?
For both people who are 3D printing for fun or starting a 3D printing business, determining the costs is a must. Knowing the costs of your products is extremely important. Just like every other business, the more it costs, the more you will want to charge your customers. You will not want to charge the customers, say, $30 when the cost is $35, none of us want that.
The cost will include the electricity consumption, the materials, your knowledge, your work, and most importantly, your time. Why time? People usually say “time is money”, like a proper business, time is the most valuable and important thing. It is not dramatic to say the costs that exclude time are just unacceptable and a waste of time.
How Much Does It Cost To Run A 3d Printer Per Hour – The Predicted Costs
For simplifying the talk, I will just take the most popular 3D printer for most people – Monoprice Voxel as an example. This way, you can easily adjust the base of the numbers on the following writings.
1. How Much Does It Cost In Electricity To Run a 3D Printer?
First of all, let’s just assume that 50 watts will take you a dollar so we can simplify the numbers. Most of the modern 3D printers will need 50 watts to proceed with a normal printing process. A normal printing process usually means a low heating point, no heated bed, and small objects. However, a normal printing process will take 2 to 4 hours or even longer be completely finished. So it will take you 400 watts for a normal object.
But if you are into a bigger project, you should consider getting a heated bed. Most of the heated beds on the market will need 120 Volt as the input to heat the bed properly. This means the total voltage cost will increase to around 500 watts per hour. But it can drop to 80 or 100 watts when the heat is stabilized.
2. How Much Does It Cost To Clean A Printer?
When you are going to print a brand new object, you will need to clean them properly. To do that, you will need tools and cleaning liquids. Most of the 3D printer users will use a straight and solid ruler or something similar, paper towels and acetones. The total costs are super low, just around $10 for acceptable tools. The cleaning process will not take much time if you know how to properly do it.
On the other hand, if you are too busy or just don’t want to clean the printer by yourself, you might want to take the printer to the cleaning service. They will take you somewhere around $50 to make your printer as clean as new and always ready to print.
3. The Replacements Cost
Just like being said, some parts of the three-dimensional printer will wear out or break over time. This means you will have to replace the old parts with newer ones. Especially parts that are usually exposed to heat such as the print head or the heating bed. The cost of these will pretty much depend on the manufacturer.
For example, an authentic nozzle of the Monoprice Voxel will take you around $24 and the bed will take $8. The prices will vary depending on where you live, shipping fees, and the government policies.
Are you using a different device? here is a small tip. First of all, you will want to know the price of the electricity where you live. Second, you will need to know the voltage requirement of the printer. And lastly, just look at the time it takes to finish the printing process. When you have all the needed numbers, you can easily determine the cost by multiplying the numbers by order. This way, you can now know how much does it cost to run a 3D printer for an hour.
Things Will Affect On How Much Does It Cost To Run A 3D Printer Per Hour
The things above are not all, obviously. Some things will affect the costs greatly, especially when you are getting yourself into a serious project. So here are some noticeable things that will play a big role in affecting the costs. Let’s dig into this!
1. The Materials:
As you may already know, the printers work by heating the solid material and print them layers on layers. By that, materials that need a lower heating point will consume less electricity, PLA is a good example. Just like that, materials that need a higher temperature to melt will consume more electricity, like ABS plastics or metallic materials.
2. The Building Plates:
Some material with a low heating point will quickly cool down as soon as they are out of the nozzle. Usually, the solution is using a heated building plate, and it will pretty much increase the power consumption. But the point is, you use a low heating point material at first so it will lower the power consumption. But it cools down too quickly so you need a heated bed, which will cost more power, ironically. The solution for this problem is you will need to print in a warm or hot environment.
3. The Nozzle:
The nozzle or print head plays a big role in power-consuming too. A smaller print head will extrude less material, offering more precision to the object. This means it’ll take a longer time to finish the printing process, and will consume more power for the heat. Meanwhile, a bigger print head will extrude more material at the same time, but with less precision. This means it will reduce the printing time and lower the power consumption as the printing process takes less time.
4. The Printer Itself:
A bigger 3D printer will need more power to work, so if you are trying to reduce the power costs, you might want to try a smaller one. Usually, a big printer will include lots of features, which will cost more power. While a small 3D printer may not have all the fancy features, it will help lower the costs. Furthermore, a small 3D printer will work just fine if you are 3D printing as a hobby.
5. The Printing Settings:
Is your 3D printer using too much power despite you have tried all things above? Then you should try to adjust the settings, most of the problems start with the lower layers. The thicker the lower layer, the longer it will take to print. This means it will increase the overall power cost of the whole printing process.
And also, if you are currently ironing the object, you might want to turn the ironing feature off. Ironing will increase the printing time greatly, and the overall costs as well. Try sanding them manually if you want to lower the costs, but this will pretty much take lots of your time.
6. Post Printing Process:
When the printer is finished printing the object, it is now your turn to work with the printed object. Things that many people do when getting a new object are removing it from the plate and sanding them down. These tasks can be quite boring and exhausting, but hey, you can always charge your customers for that. Many people don’t count this as a cost, but spending your time is a cost. Remember to count it, do not waste your time.
What Will Affect The Printing Time?
Just like being said, the less time it takes to print, the more electricity is saved. This means reducing the time of the printing process will more likely lower the overall costs. Yet, many things will affect the printing time, things that are noticeable for a better final result. To know how much does it cost to run a 3D printer per hour, you will have to know these.
1. The 3D Model:
Obviously, a simple model will offer a quicker printing time as the more complex model will take longer to print. If your model has some little details that can be carved manually, you should remove them and carve them when it is done for a quicker printing process.
2. The Model Volume:
With the three-dimensional model, you can easily calculate its total volume, including the support parts. This total volume will help a lot in knowing how much it will cost to print. This will also include how much materials will be used, the printing time, and the electricity that will be consumed.
In a simple way of talk, the volume of the model will more likely affect the cost. There is one thing you can do to lower the cost by hollowing the model. Yet, this way will affect the sturdiness of the object. This means you will have to do a trade-off, choosing between a sturdy model or a low-cost model.
3. The Complexity Of The Model:
Not all three-dimensional models are the same with each other. Some are made ready to print, some are made with many details and require a complex build as the materials. A simple model can be printed and finished quickly, and also need fewer materials. A complex model will take more time to print, consume more materials as electricity.
For example, a simple and normal brick of Lego will take just 40 minutes to print. This was assumed that the materials used to print are PLA or ABS plastics. On the other hand, a Millennium Falcon model will take about 3 hours to print while using the same material. The only bright side of this is you can charge your customers with a higher price tag for its complexity.
What Material Will Help In Lower The Cost?
As mentioned, some materials will increase the cost of your project, some will lower the cost for more profits. Just keep in mind that almost everything on this planet has its price, and will affect how others see it. Furthermore, how much electricity does a 3d printer use per hour will be involved. For example, with the same model of a keycap, but using two different materials to print by a company. One is plastic and one is metallic, people tend to pay a higher price for the metallic one.
Enough talking, you will want to note down the price and the name of the materials below because they will change based on where you live. So, what material will lower the cost of your project? Shall we find out?
This material is super popular for both beginners and experts for its quality and low cost. The one major thing that makes it a good pick for almost everyone in this material will not generate toxic smoke during the printing process. This makes it a lot easier and safer to work with for beginners. Furthermore, the average price is quite good too, you just need to spend around $15 to $20 for a kilogram of PLA.
The only downside of this material is it has almost the lowest melting point. This will make it cool down too quickly, making it hard to stick with the new layers. The solution for this is you’ll need to get a heating plate to prevent it from cooling down too fast. But ironically, the plate will increase the power consumption rate as the overall cost.
2. ABS Plastics:
This material is one of the most common and standard 3D printing materials for good reasons. Objects printed with ABS plastics are built with sturdiness, impact-resistance but still have enough flexibility for not too easily broken. Moreover, this one has a higher melting point than PLA so it can work with the nozzle quite well. This also means you will not have to buy a heating build plate to print them. The average price is quite good too, just $15 to $20 for a kilogram.
The only downside of using ABS is this material will create a toxic moke during the printing process. This means working with ABS plastics with no protection accessories such as masks or gloves can cause you hazardous illness.
PETG or Polyethylene Terephthalate, is a cheap and popular material in many enterprises. They earn popularity by keeping the most amazing things from ABS such as sturdiness, impact resistance, and heat resistance. At its raw status, it is a see-through material, but when you heat it or cool it down, it will change to a non-transparent state. The downside of this material is it can be a bit of a challenge for beginners to work with. You can guess the price since it is widely popular in many industries, just $16 to $19 for a kilogram.
How Much Does It Cost To Run A 3D Printer Per Hour – Related Questions
I know that not all of us have the time to read all that and note every single thing down. In case you have skipped all of the mentioned, you might want to take your time reading some related questions that many people also wonder about. As a result, here are some noticeable questions around three-dimensional printing costs.
1. Is 3D Printing Cheaper Than Buying?
Yes, they are way cheaper since you do not have to pay extra for marketing fees, designing fees, and taxes. However, you will have to do a bit of study and exams to master 3D printing if you’re a beginner. Or another option is you can contact a 3D printing service and they will print it for you. All you have to do is give them the 3D model and get the money ready.
The idea of having a machine that can print whatever you need in your home is not new. This idea has been going around the world since the first Star Trek movie going out in the theater. If you are going to get yourself a 3D printer, you should consider this as a long-term investment since a proper printer is not cheap. But when you get to know the printer better, you’ll have the same product with 50 percent (or more) cheaper.
2. How To Know The Cost If I Live In The UK?
Easily, all you have to do is search “how much does a 3D printer cost to run UK”. The next thing you get is you will have a simple number for calculating. The basic number will be the price of the electricity in where you live. One more thing is the printer’s voltage and the printing time, which you will have to determine by yourself. The next thing to do is combine the numbers as above and you will have the exact number of costs.
3. Can I Make Money With A 3D Printer?
Yes, of course, you can, as long as you don’t sell copyrighted products. But if you are selling products that are made by yourself, you will be able to sell them with no concerns. Furthermore, you will have two options to make money with a 3D printer. One is you can charge the customers for printing their models and ship them to them. The other one is you can make your own product and sell them online or offline. Most people will choose to sell online because there are no rental fees and the ability to reach out widely.
4. How Can I Measure The Electricity Properly?
Is the method above too complicated? Here is a simpler way, getting an electricity monitor. This is a perfect way to determine the power consumption rate easily with a high correction. Or you can get a 3D printer with a built-in power usage monitor, which can have a pretty high price. This monitor will show the power usage in real-time everywhere in the world with a connected device.
5. Are 3D Printers High Maintenance?
They do need maintenance, but it will depend on how regularly you maintain the printer. Why? A recent study shows that 70 percent of 3D printers that use the printer often do not clean the printer properly. This will eventually make the parts break down too quickly, which will make the maintenance cost higher than normal. In the meanwhile, maintaining the printer often will help in lowering the maintenance cost and the production cost as well.
Hope that scrolling through this article will help you in determining the cost if you’re getting into a 3D business. Or if you are printing as a hobby, it might help you know the cost for easier electricity bill calculating. So, do you know how much does it cost to run a 3D printer per hour now? I will just let you answer that question.