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 (AM). 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 customer’s business requirements.
Having said so, it is said that a metal 3D printer may cost $50,000 and can go up to $1 million.
Let’s look at some of the factors that influence the cost of a metal 3D printer:
Type of Metal Alloy Material
Aluminium, stainless steel or nickel alloy – the type of material you choose will affect the price. This is because each metal alloy has its own performance properties in liquid oxygen compatibility, chemical resistance, and biocompatibility.
3D metal printers mostly need a powder that is heated to create the product. Depending on the type of 3D printer you need, the cost of this powder can vary per kilogram. Several other base materials go into the manufacturing of 3D metal printers as per the build required.
After the basic model of the metal 3D printer is ready, it is tailored to meet the customer’s specific needs. This could involve secondary operations for reinforcements or post-processing capabilities to give the final finishing touches. The type of operations or capabilities also determines the cost factor.
Operation and Maintenance
Metal 3D printers do not operate on the ‘plug and play’ model. They take considerable time in setting up and need trained people to handle them. Since these printers are also customized, they call for specialized maintenance. All these running costs also add up to the cost of the metal 3D printer.
So, coming to the question of whether a metal 3D printer is expensive, there is no right or wrong answer to it. It all depends on the size, model and performance variables. It also depends on the nature, size and complexity of the products you want to develop. The more features and customized the printer you need, the costlier it would be.
So, a metal 3D printer may worth be all the price you pay for it to accomplish your business goals. When you buy a metal 3D printer or avail of its manufacturing technology from a service provider, research your options before making a final decision.