Industrial 3d printer

Industrial 3D Printers: Your Cost and Efficiency Guide

Industrial 3D printers are the workhorses of the 3D printing world, with the potential to print larger, faster, higher volumes of parts in various performance and engineering materials.

A 3D printer’s ability to prototype, iterate, and produce intricate and complex models quickly can save resources that might be spent on tooling the production line and setting up an assembly process.

Throw in countless materials from ABS and PP to silicone and multiple technologies from extrusion-based FFF and resin-based SLA to powder-based SLS, and it’s hard to argue against 3D printing as the most flexible production tool.

However, industrial 3D printers aren’t suitable for every industrial process, and you must understand the cost, efficiency, and limitations of industrial 3D printers before diving in to safeguard your investment.

This industrial 3D printer cost and efficiency guide covers everything you need to know with tips from our 3D printing experts.

Let’s jump in!

Industrial 3D printer costs

The price of an industrial 3D printer is determined primarily by the type of 3D printing technology, the size and capabilities of the 3D printer, and the features and accessories included in the package.

A printer’s technology and capabilities are inherently linked to the pricing and can sway adoption costs one way or the other.

Formlabs Fuse 1+ 30W

For example, industrial FFF/FDM technology has the lowest entry price compared to SLS, SLA, DLP, and LCD 3D printers. Still, some FFF 3D printers can cost more due to unique capabilities, like swapping out print modules for high-temp materials (3DGence F421) and printing liquid silicones (Lynxter S600D).

Generally, you pay more for 3D printers that print unique and traditionally hard-to-print materials, and resin and powder-based printers.

3DGence F421

Here are a few examples of 3D printer prices:

Prices increase as 3D printers get bigger or the print technology more complex, which is why a basic FFF 3D printer can cost comparatively little.

Additionally, certain technologies are better suited for specific applications. They have features that can be more expensive than others, such as greater accuracy and resolution or faster print speeds for multiple models in one session.

Lynxter S600D

However, the most expensive 3D printer is not necessarily the most suitable for a given task, so research is critical to ensuring a good match.

While price is an essential factor, the production requirements for a task, such as materials, print speeds, model geometries, connectivity requirements, and throughput, should be evaluated to determine the most suitable 3D printer.

Industrial 3D printer setup costs

While getting an industrial 3D printer in place requires a steady hand, hardware and software configuration ranges from non-existent to moderately intensive. Some 3D printers are pre-calibrated with minimal tinkering required.

Time is the most significant resource required for printer setup, with installation, connectivity, calibration, and testing potentially taking a few days, depending on the technology and any issues that arise during print test runs.

Ultimaker S5
Ultimaker S5

The only added cost worth mentioning with setup is possible training for 3D printer operators, especially when there is first adoption or inexperience.

However, training can save time and frustration by bringing 3D printers online with the correct configuration sooner, which is a worthwhile investment.

The installation process usually follows these steps:

  • Unboxing the machine.
  • Installation in place.
  • Software and driver installation.
  • Connecting the device.
  • Starting and calibrating the printer.
  • Installation of consumables (materials).

You don’t need a 3D printing expert to set up most industrial 3D printers because much of the process is automated, and the instructions are relatively simple.

Markforged Onyx One

With most industrial 3D printers, software and driver installation is fully automated when connected to the network. Connecting to a device is as simple as entering a password, and much of the calibration is automated. For example, the 3DGence F421 has a head bed scan feature that levels out the bed precisely and sets the height of the nozzle for you.

To sum up, the setup costs for an industrial 3D printer are minimal, with training being the highest cost where relevant.

Industrial 3D printer material costs

Depending on whether an FFF 3D printer has an enclosed chamber and a heated print bed, it can usually print standard and speciality materials, with speciality materials costing up to 600% more in some cases.

Materials like ABS, PP, TPU, and PET-G are relatively cheap, while engineering materials like PEEK and carbon-fibre-filled materials are more expensive.

Parts printed with Nylon 11

For example, 3DGence ABS filament costs £46.56, including VAT, for 1kg of filament, while 3DGence CF-PC costs £138.00, including VAT, for 750g.

Resin 3D printers have higher material costs, although some 3D printers recycle resin, reducing waste and the cost per print.

grey pro resin
A bust printed with Formlabs Grey Pro Resin

SLS 3D printers print a polymer powder, which is significantly more expensive than most FFF plastics and even resins from SLA and DLP 3D printers.

For example, Formlabs Nylon 11 Powder for the Fuse 1 3D printer costs £718.80 for 6KG.

However, while SLS, SLA, and DLP 3D printers have higher material costs than FFF printers, they can produce more complex and intricate models.

PLA spools
PLA spools

To work out how much you will spend on 3D printing materials, you need to estimate your material consumption based on the weight of your components and add around 10% for waste, giving you a baseline figure to work with.

Material waste is also a critical hardware consideration because the more material that is wasted during the printing process, the more it will cost to produce the same amount of product.

Industrial 3D printer running costs

The cost to run an industrial 3D printer depends on the printer’s power draw, uptime, and the price per kWh on an energy tariff/agreement.

To calculate running costs on your production line, you must set a baseline uptime figure (the amount of time the printer will spend printing) and get the average power draw from the manufacturer.

For example, the 3DGence F421 has a maximum power draw of 4.6kW and an average power draw of 1.5kW (split across the print). We can calculate the hourly running cost by multiplying the kWh price by the average power draw.

3DGence F421

Using the 3DGence F421’s average power draw of 1.5kW and 50p per kWh as a baseline, it costs £0.75p per hour to run.

Most industrial 3D printers have an average power draw between 1.5kW and 3kW. Generally, the larger the printer, the higher the maximum power draw, but the real power draw is relative to the printer settings.

For example, extruding filament at a higher temperature or cranking the heated bed consumes more energy. Likewise, longer print runs extend the time under power, which is one of the reasons why fast print speeds are desirable.

Find out more

Find out more

To find out more about 3D printing costs, call us on 01765 694 007 or email

book an appointment with Rachael

Top image credit: Formlabs.

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