3D printing isn’t cheap. Despite tons of articles claiming that 3D printing is supposed to reduce cost and is the way to go for producing on-off prototypes, you may still get an unexpectedly high quote when you make an inquiry about the 3D printing cost in Singapore.
We often get queries about how much does it cost for 3D printing for example, a 5cm object. The short answer is – there is no fixed price. It all depends on several factors such as the volume of your 3D file, the material you need, and your finishing requirements. Therefore, a small 3D printed piece, think around 5cm, may vary from $5 to $500.
This article is going to explain why the price of 3D printing might be steep at times, and offer some tips on how to bring down 3D printing cost.
The price of 3D printing is determined by three main factors.
3D printing cost depends on the material chosen. Apart from the common ABS and PLA, there are many other industrial materials with specific uses that would incur a higher cost.
These 3D printing materials include: Enhanced ABS (ABS-A100), ABS-ESD7, ABS-M30, ULTEM 9085 CG Resin, ULTEM 1010 CG Resin, ASA, Carbon Fiber (Nylon 12CF), GP Plus, Somos Watershed XC 11122, Taurus, EvoLVe, NeXt, VeroClear, VeroWhite/Grey, PP, PA12 & TPU.
For example, ABS-ESD7 is a static-dissipative material suitable for use in the electronics industry. This material would cost substantially more than printing with normal ABS.
An important factor that goes into determining the cost of your 3D print is the volume of your product. The larger your product, the longer time it will take for the 3D printer to produce your part. As a result, cost increases too, with the usage of more time and material.
Some of your parts might require post processing if you require a specific finishing. Post processing after 3D printing can help you achieve different finishing outcomes. These include metallization (coloured/silver/gold), polishing to optic clear and spray painting to the exact Pantone shade you want. An advanced post processing method called Vapor Smoothing has been made available recently at Additive3D Asia, the first company to offer this process in Southeast Asia. After going through the chemical vapor smoothing treatment, your parts will be stronger, sealed against liquids and gases with an injection molding-like surface finish. This can be achieved without any degradation of its mechanical properties. If post processing is required after 3D printing to attain certain requirements, the 3D printing cost will be substantially higher.
The simplest way to reduce the price of 3D printing would be to decrease your infill percentage. By decreasing infill, you are essentially minimizing the material needed for your print, therefore reducing cost. Decreasing infill percentage is a straightforward way to guarantee cheaper 3D prints without compromising on the size, material, or finishing.
It is easy to customize infill percentage via our Online Quoting Tool. Simply create a user account with us first to get full access to the free tool. You will be able to compare prices of different infill percentages before deciding on your desired percentage.
There are so many materials used in 3D printing, how do you determine which one to use? First of all, you need to recognize your needs and requirements. Think in terms of finishing and application of the 3D printed part. If your product is a prototype and does not require functionality, you can opt for ABS or PLA material. These plastics are much cheaper than industrial materials such as Carbon Fiber (Nylon 12CF) and can save you a significant amount.
However, in the case that you are building a functional end-use part, you might require materials that meet certain industry requirements. For example, the Somos Watershed XC 11122 used in Stereolithography is water resistant. Hence, the material fits industrial standards for lenses, packaging, water flow analysis and wind tunnel testing.
In the event that you do need special materials to meet industrial standards, the cost of 3D printing would increase substantially. For careful material selection, please refer to all materials we offer.
Using 3D printing as a means of production is another method to reduce cost. Rather than merely 3D printing your prototypes, we recommend using additive manufacturing technologies for low volume manufacturing. This will cost less than traditional manufacturing techniques, as 3D printing does not require the use of molds.
By 3D printing in batches, we are able to organize the parts on the printing bed. For instance, 10 of the same parts can fit on the same printing bed to be printed at one go. This fully optimizes the print duration by printing multiple models simultaneously, ensuring that more parts are produced in a similar amount of time. During this process, cost per part is largely reduced.
Similar to the idea of decreasing infill percentage, you can reduce 3D printing cost by simply cutting down on the amount of support. Of course, some products definitely require support structure to complete the print. However, sometimes, reorienting your part on your slicing software can largely reduce or even completely remove the need for support.
Furthermore, reducing support structure can help you build a flawless print at a smaller price point. This is due to the fact that you can save on post processing time and cost without the need to remove support and do sanding.