Which factors influence the price of a metal 3D print?
3D printing cost: explained
Based on this overview we make clear how a price is established for printing a certain part in metal.
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The volume (cm³) determines how much raw material, namely metal powder, will be needed during printing. The less volume the part contains, the less powder must be fused together.
By reducing superfluous mass, a considerable weight saving and consequently cost saving can be achieved. There are different methods to limit mass.
Parts can be designed hollow
Lattices (mesh) instead of massive structures
These lattice structures can easily be added to an existing design. Giving the design a fancy look and providing a remarkable cost saving.
Generative design for maximum weight saving
Draw & design with 3D printing in mind
A good 3D design is the basis for making a 3D printed piece economically. If the 3D design (STEP / STL) is ready and only then the option for printing is being considered, the chance of finding a cheap printing solutions will be small. It’s recommended to take into account the design rules of printing during the development of the drawing.
A part can be placed on the print table in different ways. Within the slicing software, a part can be placed horizontal, vertical, at an angle of 45°,… The building direction also indirectly determines the building height. (See image above). The cost for determining the optimal construction direction and making a 3D file ready for printing is calculated as a programming cost.
A 3D printed piece consists of multiple layers, the higher the component, the more layers that need to be welded. This means that the ‘recoater’, part of the 3D metal printer that constantly applies new layers of powder, needs to place more layers. More layers result in a longer printing time and higher manufacturing costs.
Glossy and polished surfaces do not come straight from a 3D printer. The precision of a 3D printed piece after printing is +/-0,1mm. To achieve better accuracy and smoother surfaces further post-processing is needed.
Besides, after 3D printing in metal, there is still support material present. This support provides the necessary connection between the building plate and the workpiece. It ensures good heat conduction and prevents tension during printing.
In some cases the support can be removed mechanically/automatically but for small details and hard-to-reach surfaces manual work is required.
There are almost no limitations in the range of post-processing. Different types of sandblasting, vibratory drum processes, laser treatments, machining, chemical treatments, texture applications,…
When ordering a 3D printed item, the standard finishing is assumed. This degree of finishing is suitable for +/-70% of the cases.
Standard finishing: support removal – vibratory finishing (various cycle times with different sizes of abrasive stones) – wet & dry sandblasting.
Consent expires after 30 days.
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