What are some ways to calculate the approximate cost of printing a 3d sculpture (i.e., filament, wear and tear on printers) – quora gas news today


A back of the envelope calculation is quick and Cura can estimate how much material you use. A rough calculation therefore is easily made. To figure out the effective cost of your part is however very complex to do correctly. It is highly dependent on the material, printer and nozzles as well. Also, print orientation and how many things you will print simultaneously effect your margins and cost significantly. And you won’t be able to accurately predict this unless you know the volume, geometry, material of your parts and how many of them you can print simultaneously. You may need to remove support material or finish a part this also depends on the design and will hugely alter any margin calculation.

Initially I would recommend that you use 3DHubs, Shapeways or i.materialise to 3D print your sculptures. That way you can print things, sell them and see if there is a market for your product without having to make a large up front investment. Then you can test and iterate and see which products work for you. Once you then have a product you could continue to sell it. At one point you could then step back and calculate how much this product would cost to make yourself and if the higher margin is worth the investment. Depending on the size of the thing and the material you are making it in a different 3D printer could best suit your needs. A lot of the tools for 3D printing are free and services provide you with an easy way to test your market.

By using the technology to make low volume iterations of your products you can de-risk your business and validate it. Then depending on what your product is, you can select the appropriate production method. Only then will you accurately be able to calculate your costs.

But, we can continue and make it even more interesting. Most people don’t notice differences in objects of 10% in volume. So if one can make it smaller by that size then do so and you’ll make more things. With a desktop printer we’re really optimizing the build plate. If you’re using industrial systems it is about utilizing the whole build volume because you have support material. This means again that different sizes and shapes radically affect how many you can make. So the process and type of printer will greatly affect the outcome.

But, what if you could sell 10 large robots per hour and only sold one of the smaller ones per hour? Well, then in selecting your optimal product and production mix this has to be taken into account as well in determining what you should make. Happily we work in 3D Printing so we can make lots of different size and shaped robots and test these. We can also test sell them to people to determine which will be the right one. Maybe our medium robot would command a higher price for example but the largest one’s even larger price would not be justified by the increased production time.

If you design the item so it does not need support or finishing and looks good straight out of the printer then again this will be a significant saving as well. The pure material cost or the cost of nozzle replacements is an interesting thing to know. Generally however profit velocity and taking many more things into acount will lead to a much clearer picture. With 3D printing the interesting thing is that you have the freedom to design for profit or a unique application. So on the one hand the final object you wish to make has a big influence on the cost picture but one can optimize ones products significantly for 3D printing production and should take this into account when designing the object.