The Actual Price of 3D Printing

After studying the now well-known article a few ventilator valve that may be 3D printed for $1, in comparison with the traditionally-manufactured valve costing $11,000, I noticed that the best way 3D printing prices are calculated continues to be vastly oversimplified, which results in reliance on two incomplete value fashions. The most typical says that in contrast to conventional manufacturing there are by no means economies of scale and that the price per half stays fixed, whether or not a single half or 100s of elements are printed. One other mannequin is that 3D printing prices barely lower with the variety of models as extra elements are added to the construct mattress, and the common construct time per half decreases.

The Actual Price of 3D Printing 1

The Actual Price of 3D Printing 2

Determine 1: Widespread fashions of 3D printing prices

Each of the above fashions present a price approximation and are sometimes utilized by service bureaus, however they each have the identical flaw: They don’t take the machine utilization into consideration.

For 3D printing, there are 5 primary value contributors:

Materials value: Materials utilization for the half, assist materials, and different materials waste
Machine depreciation: Portion of the machine worth attributed to a component as a result of time the machine is getting used to construct the half
Consumable prices: The price of consumables used for the construct (construct trays, argon gasoline, filters, printhead, and many others.)
Labor prices: Personnel value concerned within the construct (construct file preparation, machine preparation, construct monitoring, machine clean-up, and assist removing)
Threat: Threat of failure concerned in constructing this half. Often is available in two differing types, time threat – the longer the print, the upper the chance of failure, and geometry threat – sure geometries might need greater threat of failure for sure expertise.

On this article we’ll take a deeper have a look at the machine depreciation value and the way machine utilization influences it.

Let’s begin with a primary equation that’s usually forgotten or ignored however is important to understanding the price of 3D printed elements.

The Actual Price of 3D Printing 3

Determine 2: Machine Depreciation Calculations

The machine utilization is the share of the time through the 12 months the place the machine is producing elements. As a result of the utilization is within the denominator of the equation above, there’s an inverse relationship between half value and machine utilization. In different phrases, the half value goes down because the machine utilization goes up.

Actual machine utilization may be very tough to guess with out having sturdy knowledge obtainable, so quite a lot of corporations will use a set quantity for utilization. They usually select a quantity between 60% and 70%… a quantity that’s usually overly-optimistic.

Different corporations with entry to historic knowledge will estimate machine utilization primarily based on previous figures. Many elements can affect the utilization determine, corresponding to upkeep, down time, and construct cleansing, however primarily based on our expertise the primary contributors are workers availability to vary builds and having sufficient elements to provide.

Workers availability is usually forgotten as a result of additive manufacturing is seen as an unmanned manufacturing course of. Whereas that is principally true, staffing continues to be required for getting ready and cleansing the machine between builds in addition to monitoring if the construct has failed. If a construct finishes in the midst of the night time with no workers obtainable, a machine will sit idle, decreasing utilization till the morning when a technician can put together the machine for a brand new construct.

To unravel this, corporations are inclined to schedule longer builds to finish exterior of working hours. Scheduling builds on this manner reduces the time a machine sits idle between builds.

The Actual Price of 3D Printing 4

Determine three: Unoptimized construct planning 62% utilization

The Actual Price of 3D Printing 5

Determine four: Optimized construct planning 79% utilization

We have now seen corporations updating to a sooner machine anticipating value financial savings attributable to higher half throughput, just for the machine sit idle as a result of there are usually not sufficient elements to maintain it busy. If the machine can produce elements twice as quick however the variety of elements produced per 12 months is similar, then the machine depreciation value per half stays the identical.

Taking this into consideration, you will need to match the machine throughput to the half demand as intently as potential:

The Actual Price of 3D Printing 6

Determine 5: Manufacturing tools matched with half demand

These two factors present that 3D printing is much like conventional manufacturing strategies, the place it’s essential to get throughput, half demand, and manufacturing planning proper to be able to decrease half manufacturing value.

When bearing in mind machine utilization and the way most customers of additive manufacturing undertake the expertise, we provide you with the mannequin under, which takes into consideration all the things we mentioned on this article and reveals how the per half value of 3D printing adjustments primarily based on the variety of elements manufactured and the variety of machines wanted to provide them:

The Actual Price of 3D Printing 7

Determine 6: Lifelike utilization-based value per half

Based mostly on the graph above we see that prices may be lower to a minimal if we will match the elements demand with the machine capability. At Blueprint, once we create a ROI mannequin for our purchasers, we regularly group many elements collectively to enhance the machine utilization. Generally we’ll change the fabric of some elements or redesign a component so it might slot in a smaller construct chamber. Understanding this, what do you have to do?

In case you are wanting into buying some manufacturing tools, ask for actual construct time figures primarily based in your elements, then plan what a typical week of builds will appear to be. This may make it easier to to create a utilization-based ROI tailor-made to your particular situations.

As soon as the machine is up and operating, monitor its utilization. Whether it is low (under 60%,) determine the trigger. Are you able to schedule builds higher? In case you don’t have sufficient calls for for elements, make investments into figuring out and transitioning elements to additive; that funding will find yourself saving you cash in the long term.

Additionally have a look at altering the design of your elements to decrease construct instances. Getting coaching on design for additive manufacturing will result in much less materials utilization and shorter construct time which is able to enhance your general elements economics.

Whatever the design adjustments wanted, don’t be scared by the preliminary value per half primarily based on value calculations on a restricted variety of elements. Understand that any further half you handle to determine and transition to additive manufacturing will result in a component value discount on all of your 3D printed elements. Hold monitoring your use of additive manufacturing and observe the prices are shrinking the extra you utilize it and you might be getting extra experience. Actively managing your machine utilization and investing in upskilling your workforce would be the keys to attaining the favorable economics of additive manufacturing.

Loïc LeMerlus

Loic leads the event of Blueprint’s algorithms that drive our proprietary evaluation instruments. He additionally works intently with a lot of our purchasers to investigate complicated knowledge and perceive the financial affect that 3D printing and additive manufacturing may have on their companies. In different phrases, he places the numbers behind the hype. Loic has over 9 years main initiatives to quantify the affect of the expertise, working with customers and distributors throughout the additive manufacturing business.

Blueprint is an additive manufacturing consultancy, bringing collectively greater than 16 years of data and expertise throughout the business. Because the world’s main additive manufacturing consultancy, Blueprint usually assists future-ready corporations obtain additive success. Based mostly in Eden Prairie, Minn., and Milford, U.Ok, the agency provides a singular, technology-agnostic perspective on all issues additive, from strategic recommendation to design optimization providers. Extra info is offered on-line at

If you wish to focus on this text or your additive manufacturing technique, the staff at Blueprint is right here to assist. Let’s speak.

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