Metal Filament Is Costly
Metal 3D printing filament is expensive and comes in a unique design that fits a specific printer.
Since most metal printers are made on-demand, every printer is different. Hence, the metal powder used in these printers also needs to be made according to the printer requirements. Besides, high-grade metal is generally more costly than most plastics.
Metal 3d Printer Cost: Is It Expensive
Metal 3D printing has been a popular modern technology in prototype and product development. The reason is apparent. It is a powerful amalgamation of the mechanical properties of a metal and the flexibility of 3D design. Since 3D printing adds material layer-by-layer to fabricate the parts, it is also known as Additive Manufacturing . Today, it is used widely across energy, aerospace, defence, automotive, electronics and medical equipment manufacturing industries.
While there is no doubt that metal 3D printing is a valuable technology, it comes at a price. You might not be able to get the correct price online unless you request the manufacturer to provide it to you. Each 3D printer has its own specifications and features, making it unique and priced differently from its peers. Most manufacturers customize these printers as per the customers business requirements.
Having said so, it is said that a metal 3D printer may cost $50,000 and can go up to $1 million.
Lets look at some of the factors that influence the cost of a metal 3D printer:
How Long Will It Take For Metal Printers To Become Affordable
It shouldnt take more than a few years before metal printers become more affordable, considering the rapid improvement in 3D printing technology. The main area of research to lower the cost of metal printers is material improvement.
3D metal printers require high-grade metal powder to reduce printing errors. Higher quality metal powders solidify and melt at lower temperatures, requiring less complex printer designs. However, as of right now, they are costly and rare, so well have to wait for these metals to become more commonplace before the prices drop.
Another factor that may reduce the prices of metal printers is the improvement in laser technology. Most experts believe that laser 3D printers will be available at lower prices anywhere between 2025 and 2030.
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Cobalt Chrome Mp1 Properties
- Increased Strength, Temperature & Corrosion Resistance
- Improves Mechanical Properties Improve with Increased Temperature up to 500-600 °C
- Conforms to the Chemistry Composition UNS R31538 of High Carbon CoCrMo Alloy
- Ensures Nickel-Free Composition
- Fulfills Mechanical & Chemical Specifications of ISO 5832-4 & ASTM F75 for Cast CoCrMo Implant Alloys
Working Out Return On Investment
To work out your ROI, take your current manufacturing method costs, and subtract the cost to print the same part to get the savings. Take the price of the printer, divide by the cost of savings to figure out the number of printed parts needed to pay off the printer.
See an example calculation below.
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The Metal 3d Printing Process
While there are several categories of metal 3D printing, the basic fabrication methods all involve producing a part by adding material one layer at a time. First, the build chamber is filled with argon or another inert gas. The gas is used to minimize the oxidization of the metal material. The powder material is placed over the build platform. A laser then scans a cross-section of the component and fuses the granules together to solidify the layer. The build platform moves down one layer and then another layer of metal powder is added. The laser scans again to create an additional layer. The process repeats itself until the part is made. Support structures made of the same material are used to attach the part to the build platform. Excess powder is removed from the part and the part is heat-treated. The part is detached from the build platform using cutting, wire-EDM or machining.
Metal 3D printing methods include //
- Selective Laser Melting //A laser melts layers of powdered metal material in successive layers.
- Electron Beam Melting //The same process as SLM, but an electron beam replaces the laser.
- Laser Deposition Welding // A metal powder is layered on a base material and fused with no pores or cracks.
- Metal Powder Application // Powder particles are accelerated in a carrier gas and then applied to a previously printed layer or substrate using a powder jet.
Metal Additive Manufacturing: How Much It Costs
We covered the different ways to 3D print and now see what these various methods cost. Let’s take a fairly sophisticated tool like this bottom bracket installation tool for bicycles:
This part is relatively difficult to machine and requires a few different setups with some specialized tools. It seems like an excellent example of why you might want to use a metal 3D printer.
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Cost Driver #: Material Cost
One of the most important metal 3D printer costs is that of the raw materials. Metals for 3D printing are often far more expensive than other forms of the same metal. This is due to special processing and purity requirements. In addition to the raw material itself, some metal 3D printers require inert gas which can add a surprising amount to the overall annual cost. There are 3 main groups of metal 3D printed raw materials as listed below.
One of the biggest disadvantages of powder-based metal 3D printing is the cost of the raw material. In most cases, the process to turn metal into powder is expensive and energy-intensive. In addition to this, the powder needs to be highly pure which only adds to the overall cost. Metal powder can cost anywhere from $79/kg for 17-4PH steel to $738/kg for advanced titanium alloys like Nitinol.
- Metal Wire
3D printing technologies like DED have much lower material costs because their raw material comes in wire form. Metal wire is much cheaper to produce than powder. Essentially, the costs are comparable to spooled welding wire. However, it must be noted that DED printers do not produce good finishes and often need additional machining after printing is complete.
- Polymer Bound Metal
A metal 3D printer at work
Benefits & Limitations Of Metal Extrusion
Metal Extrusion is excellent for functional prototyping and small productions of metal parts that would otherwise require a 5-axis CNC machining to produce.
Coming at a fraction of the cost of DMLS/SLM or Binder Jetting, Metal Extrusion printers are the most economical metal system to date. This way, a wider audience can benefit from the key benefits of metal 3D printing , especially for prototyping purposes and small production runs. Moreover, the ease-of-use of these systems and their low health and safety requirement make them appealing for in-house production of custom parts or tooling to support other operations.
When compared to other manufacturing technologies though , the cost of Metal Extrusion is still considerable. For simple geometries, it is more economical to choose a traditional manufacturing process, even when outsourcing production. The biggest contributor to this final cost is the time required to de-bind and sinter the as-printed green parts. It takes on average 24 to 72 hours to do so.
From a technical point of view, the parts produced with these systems are not suitable for demanding applications as they have lower mechanical properties than the wrought metal , due to their internal porosity .
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Iro3d A 3d Metal Printer Accessible To All
Like the new Pollen AM 3D metal printer, the iro3d is inspired by an indirect metal fabrication process called MIM for metal injection molding. It uses selective powder deposition technology and sand as support material. Instead of printing a finished metal part in 3D, the machine creates a sand crucible that contains the metal powder. After a sintering step, the crucible is removed to leave room for the desired metal part. Depending on the metal used, the temperature and the duration of the sintering vary. The manufacturer explains that for copper-iron, it takes 2 hours at 1184 ° C.
For now, iro3d is compatible with high carbon steel, copper alloys and nickel. However, the printing system would not yet be optimized to produce parts with aluminum, stainless steel, or titanium. Which are still widely used metals in the industry.
We must count to pay $ 5,000 for this 3D metal printer excluding shipping costs. Add $ 5 for 500 grams of print media. You can find more information on the manufacturers website HERE.
What do you think of the iro3D metal solution? Let us know what you think in a comment below or on our and pages! Dont forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter, with all the latest news in 3D printing delivered straight to your inbox!
D Systems Dmp Flex 100
The 3D Systems DMP Flex 100 is a powder bed fusion machine built for industrial use. This manufacturer is very popular for metal 3D printing and is based out of the US. For users needing to build small or complex metal parts, this is the perfect solution.
The DMP Flex 100 is fast and precise, so you can quickly build the same part repeatedly. When you purchase this system, you also get access to an all-inclusive software solution that gives you everything you need to be successful with metal additive manufacturing.
It has a print bed of 100 x 100 x 90 mm and costs about $250,000.
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Low Cost Metal 3d Printing By Electrochemistry
has been writing for a few years about electrochemical 3D printing systems that can handle metal. Hes recently produced a video that you can see below about the process. Usually, printing in metal means having a high-powered laser and great expense. technique is an extension of electroplating.
Boiling down the gist of the process, the print head is a syringe full of electroplating solution. Instead of plating a large object, you essentially electroplate on tiny areas. The process is relatively slow and if you speed it up too much, the result will have undesirable properties. But there are some mind-bending options here. By using print heads with different electrolytes, you can print using different metals. For example, the video shows structures made of both copper and nickel. You can also reverse the current and remove metal instead of depositing it.
Accessible Metal 3d Printing
The Studio System 2 from Desktop Metal was created to enable engineers and design teams to produce complex metal parts faster, more accurately, and in a safe operating environment without the need for special facilities or dedicated operators. Just print and sinter A two-step process that doesnt require solvent debinder or tooling as in the case of MIM .
Explore the Desktop Metal Studio by watching the video
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A Variety Of Additive Manufacturing Processes:
Powder bed fusion
Powder Bed Fusion technology is used in a variety of AM processes, including direct metal laser sintering , selective laser sintering , selective heat sintering , electron beam melting and direct metal laser melting . These systems use lasers, electron beams or thermal print heads to melt or partially melt ultra-fine layers of material in a three-dimensional space. As the process concludes, excess powder is blasted away from the object.
Binder Jetting is an additive manufacturing process in which an industrial printhead selectively deposits a liquid binding agent onto a thin layer of powder particles either metal, sand, ceramics or composites to build high-value and one-of-a-kind parts and tooling. The process is repeated layer by layer, using a map from a digital design file, until the object is complete.
Direct energy deposition
The process of directed energy deposition is similar to material extrusion, although it can be used with a wider variety of materials, including polymers, ceramics and metals. An electron beam gun or laser mounted on a four- or five-axis arm melts either wire or filament feedstock or powder.
With material jetting, a print head moves back and forth, much like the head on a 2D inkjet printer. However, it typically moves on x-, y- and z-axes to create 3D objects. Layers harden as they cool or are cured by ultraviolet light.
Metal 3d Printer Price: How Much Does A Metal 3d Printer Cost
Industrial metal 3D printer prices generally range from about $30,000 to over one million dollars for the most premium, industrial-grade metal additive manufacturing systems.
Additional costs to consider are the materials for metal 3D printing, which can cost a few hundred USD/kg, as well as costs linked to post-processing .
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How Expensive Is Metal 3d Printing
Metal 3D printing, also known as Additive Manufacturing , has been described as a technology that will revolutionize manufacturing of metal parts. However, to replace traditional manufacturing processes, the technology needs to be competitive. Several process variants exist within metal 3D printing, these systems diverge in terms of the principle used for building up three-dimensional structures and the raw materials used.
As explored in a previous article, different methods provide solutions for different industries and every system has some advantages and drawbacks. This makes the cost of producing a metal part vary substantially depending on the technique usedand the complexity of the object.
Nevertheless, in general, it is considered that the main costs of metal 3D printing come from the machine itself, which takes up over 40%, and the raw material, usually taking up more than 25% of the total cost. And in a more moderate way, the expenses for labour , preparation and post-processing also need to be considered .
Metal 3d Printing Machines Used By Fathom / /
Fathoms manufacturing facilities are powered by over 530 machines, including mills, lathes, presses, press brakes, turret punches and additive systems. Fathom runs 12+ high-precision DMLS machines specific to metal 3D printing.
Fathom provides not just Metal 3D printing services but also hybridized services leveraging 3D printing of all kinds. Need Metal 3D printing as part of a more complex project? Fathom can handle it. A recent case study is listed below where Fathom delivered 20,000 parts in 27 days using 55+ tools including multiple 3D printing services:
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How Does Dmls/slm Work
Steps involved in 3D printing with DMLS and SLM are as follows:
First, the build chamber is filled with inert gas and then heated to the optimal temperature for printing. The build platform is covered with a thin layer of metal powder . The laser scans the cross section of the part and selectively bonds the metal particles.
After the entire area is scanned, the build platform moves down a layer and the process repeats until the entire build is complete.
After printing, the built-up needs to cool down before the loose powder can be extracted. The 3D printing step is just the beginning of the DMLS/SLM process. After the print is complete, additional post-processing steps must be performed before the parts can be used. Required post-processing steps include:
Stress relief: As a result of the very high processing temperatures during printing, internal stresses develop. Prior to any other operation, these need to be relieved through a thermal cycle.
Removal of the parts: SLM/DMLS basically welds parts to a build platform. Here, band saws or wire cutters are used.
Removal of the support: To mitigate the distortion and warping that may occur during printing, DMLS/SLM support is always required. This support is either manually removed or CNC machined.
Additional post-processing steps are often required to meet engineering specifications. This may include the following:
Main Types Of Metal 3d Printing Technologies
The four main types of 3D metal printing technologies are:
- Metal Powder Bed Fusion 3D printing
- Directed Energy Deposition
- Metal filament extrusion
- Material Jetting and Binder Jetting
There are also some resin-based metal 3D printers, and metal sheet lamination 3D printers, but they are harder to come by.
It is not uncommon to see different acronyms and names for similar technologies. Each brand markets their own, proprietary methods. Some metal 3D printer companies even use a mix of different technologies.
Here we provide a deeper look into each 3D metal printer from our list. They are grouped together according to their main 3D printing technology type .
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Metal 3d Printing Services
There are various types of metal 3D printing services, and the cost will vary considerably depending on the technology you choose. If you need to connect with reliable and competitive metal 3D printing services, you can easily do so using Jigas marketplace.
The most common options are metal powder bed fusion, direct energy deposition, metal filament extrusion, and binder jetting. Lets dive into how each of these processes works and what materials they use to build 3D metal objects!
Things To Consider Before 3d Printing Metal
As we mentioned, there is a lot more to getting a metal 3D printer than the cost of the machine. That is only just a fraction of the cost, representing only about 40% of the total expenses associated with 3D printing metal.
You may be wondering, what else do you have to consider?
The total cost of ownership also includes material expenses, post-processing requirements, and operation and maintenance. Lets get into these in a bit more detail:
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