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How Much Does 3D Printing Cost?

There are several variables that contribute to the cost of 3D printing, including print time, the type of material used, and post-processing labor. Many 3D printing service companies will bill based on an hourly rate, while others may bill according to cubic inches or a combination of both.

For sake of clarity, this article will discuss 3D printing cost factors as they pertain to the industrial level. Below, we will discuss how the print time, type of material, and post-processing labor factor in to the cost of a 3D printed part.

Print Time

Many factors influence the time it takes to complete a 3D print. These factors primarily stem from the part’s design specifications, including its complexity, overall size, layer height, and resolution. Below, we’ll discuss what these elements are and how they can affect the build time:

Complexity

3d-printing-complex-longerThe complexity of a part’s geometry largely determines the shape of the cross-sectional layers that the 3D printer uses to create the part. If the layers are simple, such as single-island layers for a cube, the printer can complete them quickly. However, where there are small features, the printer will have to stop, move to the next location where the material continues, and start again. This creates islands that the printer must form boundaries for before continuing. Furthermore, some 3D printing technologies utilize support material for complex designs, and creating a layer made up of both model material and support material will take longer than a layer composed of only model material.

Overall Size