Almost anything can print with a 3d printer. And it cannot be said that there is too much exaggeration in this phrase. Jewelry, architectural models, clothes, shoes, toys, medical prostheses, and much more printed, including printing organs on a 3D printer. Accordingly, the materials must be different, and the size of the table for printing a ringlet will be very different from the platform for growing a large object.
To answer the question with concrete numbers: how much does a 3d printer cost? It is necessary to divide the models into groups depending on the materials used, printing technology, the possibility of using several colors, the sizes of the products obtained, and similar design features.
What is a 3D Printer?
3D printers are devices for making three-dimensional objects. A large selection of models with an open or closed design allows you to choose a tool with the desired technical and operational parameters at a reasonable price. The printers are easy to use: you just need to model the image using any 3D editor on the user’s computer, reproduce it in a three-dimensional format, “cut” it into layers with a thickness/height of a few microns and start the printing process by pressing a couple of buttons. The data will transfer to the printing unit through the USB cable, Ethernet, or Wi-fi module. Then the part or object is “printed” on the platform offline using the selected algorithm (G-code). The following programs (software) are most often used to create 3D models: 3D Slash, Slic3r, CURA, 3DTin, CraftWare, Blender 3D, etc.
The Principle of Operation of the Equipment
Regardless of the technology used, the operation of any 3D printer is based on the “layer technique”: when sent to print, a simulated three-dimensional object is virtually divided into horizontal layers using a slicer – special software. Then each of the layers was successively recreated in the working chamber of the equipment. An important point: the thinner the cover, the more accurate the print, and the finished object is more detailed
Types and Scope of 3D Printers
Personal- Compact models with limited functionality (Delta, etc.). Designed for home use. It can become an educational toy for children, a learning tool for school children, etc.
Professional – Accurate, full-featured devices. Designed to solve various problems and to operate in various professional areas: medicine, dentistry, architecture, design, automotive, jewelry, construction, archeology, etc.
Industry – Large-scale devices for small-scale production of various types of products (shoes, clothes, etc.), exclusive piece products, injection molds, test samples, or master models.
Application of 3D Printers
To find out how much a 3D printer costs, you should pay attention to its type and intended scope. Depending on the 3D printing technology, the device can “sharpen” for specific tasks. For instance:
SLA, LFS (stereolithography), PolyJet, DLP are photopolymer technologies based on the principle of layer-by-layer curing of polymer-based resin by exposure to ultraviolet rays. When using the PolyJet technique, photopolymer resin is sprayed layer by layer, and when using SLA, it is grown from a bath with a special photopolymer composition. Among the advantages of these technologies: are the small amount of waste, the high mechanical strength of finished specimens, high detail accuracy, and easy post-processing. One of the models of this type is Wanhao’s Duplicator.
The layer-by-layer fusing of plastic filaments (PLA, ABS, PETG, Flex, Nylon, HIPS, etc.) melted to a semi-liquid state and extruded through the head of a movable extruder. The hardening plastic gradually forms the object. FDM is the most affordable way to 3D print. For support, different compositions are used (for example, PVA, etc.). Advantages: small equipment dimensions, easy assembly, low cost of equipment and consumables, the ability to recreate parts of the device (RepRap).
Selective (selective, point) layer-by-layer laser sintering of thin layers of powder (ABS plastic, metal, glass, wax, ceramic, etc.). The unmelted powder particles are used to support the product. Advantages of the technique: the possibility of manufacturing objects of different sizes with complex geometry, high printing speed, a wide variety of materials. Suitable for small batch production.
3D lamination. Thin sheets of plastic (e.g. ABS) or paper cut with a laser or a special knife, then the material is bonding with glue and press, and the non-glued elements removed. Benefits of LOM: cost-effectiveness, the ability to print high-precision full-color printing and produce large-sized products without support.
Gypsum polymer printing. Composite gypsum powder leveled with a roller is fastened in layers with liquid glue fed through an extruder. With this method, you can create full-color objects with complex geometry and high resolution without the support and reuse unsized powder.
Of course, such a huge difference in the production methods of models cannot but reflect in the cost of devices for 3D printing. There is a division into budget and professional devices in each of the presented categories. However, all SLS 3D printers are one step higher than devices of other classes. There are a number of reasons for this, which our article on 3D printing technologies will help you figure out. After all, in order to determine how much a 3D printer costs, you need to understand the specifics of the techniques.
When working with plastic materials, the print head heats up and squeezes out drops of hot polymer; individual layers connect and harden as they cool. The working temperature of the head for different materials can be from 160 to 300 °C. For better bonding of layers, heating of the desktop is needed. For example, ABS plastic requires a temperature of 100 °C, and a cold pad can be used for LAYWOO-D3.
Ability to Use Different Materials
The printer is most often limited to one or two types of raw materials for production because they must be of the same type. There are models where the possibility of changing the print head on the extruder is provided in order to expand the range of materials used. In some 3D printers, the design allows you to add a second print head yourself.
Prices for Individual Models
And now a few specific examples designed to clarify how much a 3d printer costs, suitable exactly for your goals and objectives. It must be said that the prices for devices of the same class may vary depending on the manufacturer and the seller too.
The color printer ProJet 660Pro of the well-known company 3D Systems (USA) costs more than $59,650.00. Working area size: 254x203x381 mm. Five print heads allow you to create multi-colored parts or produce several products at the same time, which greatly increases the volume of production. Composite materials are used.
A ProJet 160 printer from the same manufacturer with a working area of 236x185x127 mm costs $ 30,000. Works on composite powder. The monochrome device, but the parts do not have to be white; colored binders can be used. However, the principle applies to one print head – one color.
Three-color CubeX Trio by 3D Systems (USA) at a price of $2,200.00. Works with ABS or PLA plastics (filament thickness 1.75 mm). It is possible to use two types of materials to build one part. Maximum finished product size: 185x265x240 mm.
Monochrome UP Mini by PP3DP (China) $ 300 and also uses ABS or PLA plastics (filament thickness 1.75 mm). In addition to the only print head, the printer has a very small build area: only 12x12x12 cm. However, a completely closed working chamber can be attributed to the undoubted advantages.
Some companies have given users the opportunity to save some money and assemble the device themselves. A set of parts for a monochrome Prusa i3 model from BQ (Spain) costs $ 349. Works with materials PLA, HIPS, FilaFlex, thread diameter 1.75 mm, working area 215x210x180 mm.
How Much Does a 3D Printer Cost?
Otherwise, the price of a 3D printer depends on the accuracy of 3D printing, the size of the construction area, the reliability of the device, the quality of components, as well as the brand. Yes, the manufacturer is just as important in 3D printing as it is in everything else. And often, the user has to overpay a lot of money for the brand. On the other hand, at the same time, he pays for the quality of the product, which he does not want to risk at all.
So, we have reviewed the main types of devices for 3D printing and identified the factors on which their price depends. It’s time to answer how much a 3D printer costs. Industrial metal printing devices can cost hundreds of thousands of euros, making them a better option for large enterprises. Traditional SLA and FDM 3D printers cost much less and are available to the average user. To get acquainted with the real prices for 3D printers, visit our online store, where the latest models of high-quality 3D printing devices are presented. Also, there you will find various 3D pens, 3D scanners, spare parts, and accessories for 3D printing and a wide range of various consumables (plastics and resins).