To say that 3D printing can cost from several dozen to several thousand euro is like saying nothing at all. It is equally difficult to determine the exact cost of 3D printing without a 3D model, which you are currently looking at. However, novice 3D printer owners often look for specific answers to questions such as: how much does 3D printing cost? I bought a 3D printer, now what? No wonder – every new venture needs to be estimated and recalculated. So let’s try to delve deeper into the topic.
The cost of 3D printing – factors to consider
Let’s break down every aspect of home 3D printing. Some of them are obvious, others less so, but one by one:
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First, the 3D printer has to be purchased – that much is obvious. The price range at Botland is quite large, there are plenty of models. We can safely assume that about 180-200 euro is a certain minimum, which is worth spending on our first 3D printer.
If you’re asking the question about cost, we’re guessing you want to get a better idea of the ‘bottom of the range’. At the bottom of the price list is the MakerPi M1 3D printer. Currently – and we’re in the beautiful July of 2022 right now – its cost is no more than €200. Why so little? This small machine with a workspace of 100 x 100 x 100 mm (that is the dimensions of the largest 3D print we can decide on) is very easy to use. Technical details are omitted today for obvious reasons – for technical specifications, just follow the link to the product page.
The collection of budget home 3D printers also includes a considerable number of products under the Creality banner. It is worth starting with them. We use them ourselves, we live their lives in social media – we always recommend them with a clear conscience. From the cheapest 3D printers from Creality Ender series, whose price oscillates around 200 EUR, through more advanced Ender-5 / Ender-6 and CR series, to the novelty Creality Sermoon M1 – our official partner Creality is undoubtedly leading in consumer solutions for 3D printing for years.
For more information, visit the 3D Printers category in the Botland shop – just conveniently filter products by price and voilà – we have all the answers at our fingertips.
The cost of running a 3D printer, i.e. filament and repair
If a 3D printer is our vehicle, then our primary fuel is filament. Fortunately, their prices are more affordable than the fuel prices at your favourite petrol station. Filament for 3D printing is a thermoplastic material, and its price depends on the type of plastic it is made from. The cheapest spools of filament with a weight of 0.25 kg and a common diameter of 1.75 mm we can have from about 7 EUR. Estimating costs does not make sense without asking the question: “for how long will the filament last”? Well, here it is also like with fuel – it depends. Generally PLA and ABS are the least expensive materials for printing.
Many slicers – 3D printing software – will automatically calculate the estimated weight of a 3D print based on the type of material (PLA, ABS, HIPS, PETG, etc.) when working with an STL file.
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For simplicity, we will talk about the weight of 3D prints made with PLA. If you use a different type of filament on a daily basis, simply adjust the weights given in this article for the difference in density between your type of filament and the density of PLA. We risk exposing ourselves to 3D printing enthusiasts here, but you can pretty loosely assume with Kimberly Beckett of 3DRific that most 3D prints will not exceed 50 grams of filament (PLA), meaning you can do without 2 or 3 spools of 1kg filament on hand. We’re talking about PLA and “general use” here – by that we mean 3D printing parts, tools or objects from time to time, basically anything that isn’t a full project.
Something tells us that the analogy to a car and fuel will remain understandable for you, so let’s stay with it. Sometimes cars break down – like all mechanical things. If minor repairs and replacement parts come your way, here’s a workshop – the general category of 3D printing at Botland.
Choosing a 3D model – size, weight and complexity
A snail that fits in a preschooler’s hand requires less plasticine than a detailed desk dinosaur. The web is full of free 3D models. This actually answers another question about whether you pay for a model. The answer is simple: for some yes, for others no. Having a 3D model at our disposal, we can calculate its volume, including the generated supports. The total volume allows us to determine how much material is needed to print the file. Always take into account how much empty space is inside. Analysing the model can help – maybe there are loose connections, maybe the walls are too thin, or maybe some supports are redundant? Think like a design engineer.
Software for 3D printing
Most professional-grade 3D printers come with some form of software, usually for print preparation and printer management. Many cheaper 3D printers do not come with the appropriate software, but suggestions of free choices compatible with hundreds of devices can be found in product descriptions and on the Botland blog. If you’re looking for a large-scale business 3D printing solution, the next step is to consider an enterprise software plan with additional features such as direct technical support, online training and cloud storage of parts and designs.
Post-processing aka finishing
3D printing has reached 100%, poof, we pick up the model and it’s done? Well… not really. Many don’t realise that 3D printing is not an instantaneous process. Once the printing process is complete, there is still some work to be done with the print.
When it comes to filaments, it’s not worth wasting time polishing. You spend hours removing supports and other details, so we don’t want you to go through that hell. If you value your time, the amount of time you spend sanding these prints will cost you a lot. And even then, the quality won’t be comparable to resin – another method of 3D printing, but more about that in other articles.
You can find additional post-processing accessories for 3D printing in the Botland shop – visible price everywhere, clear technical details everywhere.
First 3D printer: around 200 EUR.
First filament: around PLN 7-25 EUR.
Additional parts: no need, the whole 3D printer is… the whole printer. You can choose one for assembly or pre-assembled, you do not need complicated tools.
Energy: no comment. Each 3D printer has in its specification data useful for calculating the estimated costs of power consumption.
As you can see, a beginner hobbyist can start 3D printing even with a small budget. The possibilities of 3D printers from higher price ranges are incomparably greater. If you have specific applications in mind, a consultation would be best. We invite you to Botland!