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Is 3D printing expensive?

We often get the question whether 3D printing is expensive. And as is so often the case, the answer is more complicated than just simply a yes or no.

Many variables and different scenarios apply. It depends on the materials that are used, the size of the object, number of copies you need and the printer you are planning to use. In many cases a post-production finish (polish, varnish…) is also needed and will need to be included in the overall cost.

In general, you could say that 3D printing small objects is cheap and 3D printing large objects is expensive. Prices go up exponentially as the object size increases.

Philip 3D Printed Shaver

PHILIPS – 3D shaver with customizable 3D printed handle

The cost of 3D printing doesn’t have any correlation with the complexity of your product’s design but it has everything to do with the cost of the material and the amount of resource material that is used. Material prices can go from €50/kg (ABS powder plastics) upto €500/kg (titanium powder), depending on what you need.

3D Trophy Factory 3D Printed Award

3D Trophy Factory – Design your own 3D printed award

And although precious metals are even more expensive, jewelry production is very suitable for 3D printing. It allows designers to quickly make one-off creations and customized designs without the need to create and recreate molds until the design is exactly how they want it.

Anne Zelien Text Jewel

Anne Zelien – Customizable Text Jewel

3D printing is also an excellent manufacturing method when you are creating prototypes, limited editions or customized products whereas traditional manufacturing techniques (such as injection molding, rotational molding,…) make a lot more sense when you are thinking about mass production both with regards to scalability and costs.

However, as the 3D printing technologies advance, the competition increases and raw 3D printing materials become less expensive, the future is looking brighter and brighter for 3D printing. 3D printing will become cheaper and faster and we’ll see more and more products being manufactured by 3D printers.

Heart to Get Signature Necklace

Heart to Get – Signature Necklace

The biggest advantage of 3D printing is the short time it takes to get from concept to actual product and the possibilities it offers for increasingly intricate designs.

Have a look at this very beautiful Kinematic Petals dress (commissioned by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) by Nervous System! Now just a beautiful prototype and very much still in an experimental phase but maybe one day in the future a 3D printed garment might hang in your closet!

nervous-systems-kinematic-petal-dress-debut-boston-mfa-1

Nervous System – Kinematic Petal Dress

In short, you might conclude that depending on the size of your object, the chosen material and number of copies you need, 3D printing is definitely the way to go!

Especially if you are considering giving your customers the option to customize your products themselves or if you are thinking of limited editions and unique pieces.

If you are looking to mass produce products, it’s probably not the best option yet.

Whatever the case may be, 3D printing is definitely worth considering for your special projects.
The design possibilities and the applications are endless!

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