3D printing is becoming increasingly popular, and as the technology advances and the breadth of what is possible with the technique becomes clear to a larger number of people, it is likely that it will be used in a wide range of sectors, industries, and applications. While the benefits encourage users to adopt the technology, it is also critical to understand the varied 3D printing price points and to find the right fit for your needs and applications.
There are hundreds of different 3D printers on the market today, each model offering something unique, which is why it can be daunting to even consider using a 3D printer as a hobbyist or knowing exactly where to look as a business if you are considering using 3D printers to manufacture components.
Is 3D printing expensive?
There are several factors that influence how much it costs to 3D print. 3D printing differs in the material you want to use, the design complexity, the number of components and items being printed, and, of course, then comes the consideration of the 3D printing price points. A good 3D printer allows you to scale your business, but the costs and expertise required make it far more cost-effective to outsource to a company with the capabilities in-house to perform the highest quality of 3D printers, allowing you to leverage these companies’ 3D equipment and expertise. This is known as sub contract machining.
The benefits of 3D printing
There are a few good reasons why you might want to use 3D printing, whether as a hobby or a professional pursuit.
- Flexibility – no matter how simple or complex your design, a 3D printer allows you to print and manufacture components and pieces.
- Great for prototypes – within a short space of time you can print a prototype with a view to seeing what tweaks need to be made and how it can be manufactured at scale if successful.
- Print on demand – if you don’t have the physical space to store items, 3D printing allows you to keep files and print on demand, opening up a whole host of possibilities.
3D printing price points: Finding the right fit
Depending on your level of expertise and what you are looking for from a 3D printer, there are different options out there for you. As explained earlier 3D printing price points plays a significant role in evaluating which printer to buy and so you have to carefully select a pricing or product category that suits your needs and applications.
3D printers for amateurs
Amateurs generally look for a cheap and entry-level desktop 3D printer that can help them understand and learn about 3D printing. In this category, the printers are not highly standardised and there are considerable chances of failed prints, but these printers can be used for props, cosplay, simple household items, DIY items, figurines, toys, basic prototyping, etc. These types of printers are noisier and slower, but that is fine at this price point.
Average cost: US $100 to $500 (£80-£400)
3D printers for hobbyists
If you are a step above the amateurs, you are probably interested in using 3D printers to expand your hobby. Printers aimed at these users, known as hobbyists, are comparatively more capable and produce somewhat reliable results. The printers are semi-assembled, and you can expect good first prints. However, you will still need to tweak to get the best results.
Average cost: US $400 to $1500 (£350-£1250)
3D printers for enthusiasts
This 3D printer category takes things to the next level, offering printers that can produce even larger prints with high quality and a variety of potential materials. They are fast without sacrificing finish quality, but there is concern about regular use necessitating regular maintenance and the associated costs.
Average cost: US $1000 to $4000 (£800-£3250)
Professional 3D printers
This is where current 3D printing technology provides the most value. They are intended to print high-quality parts from high-temperature materials in enclosed build areas. They are long-lasting and can print at high speeds while maintaining superior print resolution.
Average cost: US $4000 to $20,000 (£3250-£16500)
Industrial 3D printers
With good reason, you pay a premium for this level of quality. They are long-lasting and dependable, and can handle large orders, but the cost limits them to the largest corporations. If you need to use a 3D printer in this category, you should outsource to a company that owns an industrial 3D printer, for example a 3D Printer by Raise3D.
Average cost: US $20,000 to $90,000 (£16500-£80000)
As you can see, the costs associated with 3D printing for individuals and businesses vary depending on your goals. There is a difference in how you might approach printing if you are an individual with a hobby who wants to try it out or a business with a need for large-scale printing. It is always a good idea to look for a specialised company to which you can subcontract the engineering. This gives you the 3D printed materials you want and need at a reasonable price and speed.
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