Sunday, February 2, 2014
Estimating Cost of 3D Prints in PLA
When I first decided to get a 3D printer, I had no real understanding of what it cost to operate. It's useful to be able to know what a part costs before you print it.
It turns out this is pretty easy. Repetier Host (and probably anything that uses Slic3r as the slicing tool) will output the length of filament, as well as the volume, that the print will consume. For example, the print below shows that it will need 3.5 cubic centimeters of PLA plastic to complete.
An internet search shows that the density of PLA plastic is 1.25 grams per cubic centimeter. A 1 kilogram (1000 gram) spool of PLA costs about $30.
Now we can set up a simple ratio:
1000 grams/$30.00 = 1.25 grams/ (dollars per cubic centimeter)
Dollars per cubic centimeter = 0.0375, or just shy of 4 cents. So the above sample print, at 3.5 cubic centimeters, would cost about (4 x 3.5) = 14 cents.
If your design does not require printed support scaffolding, you can also easily calculate what it will weigh. This is useful for robotics and RC models. 3.5 cubic centimeters x 1.25 grams per cubic centimeter is about 4.4 grams.