Every time we stumble upon a crazy idea, we feel like 3D printing it quickly, don’t we? But the biggest deterrent for us to bring our idea to life is the 3d printing cost per cubic inch. YES!! IT IS EXPENSIVE. And no matter what technology or material we intend to use for our prototype, there is literally no way of get a 3d printing cost estimator without CAD designing it and then sending it to a service bureau.
Today, I want to share with you a quick formula to calculate the 3d printing cost per cubic inch without even designing it. (Please note this formula will give you an approximate costing which might deviate as much as 50%)
Step 1: Calculate the Bounding Box.
Most 3D printers, use some key parameters like bounding box, layer thickness, orientation of part, infill percentage, consumed material, support material etc. to calculate the costing of the part. To calculate the approximate costing, we can consider only the bounding box of the part.
Imagine the bounding box of your design in centimeters. (Generally speaking 3D printing should be used for smaller parts) For instance consider this part which is 10 x 5 x 6 cms = 300 cubic centimeter, which is approximately 18.31 cubic inch.
Step 2: Assume the actual consumed material percentage
Now, you need to think of the actual consumed material volume i.e. how much percentage of total bounding box will be the actual consumed material. Think of it like this: Imagine you want to 3D print a cube of bounding box (shown below) 2 cms x 2 cms x 2 cms that will have a volume of 8 cubic centimeter or 0.49 cubic inch. But imagine if we make it hollow with a wall thickness of 1 mm, the actual consumed material volume will be 2cubic centimeter. (approx.). So your actual consumed material percentage is 25%.
Be diligent as much as possible while assuming this percentage. IT WILL AFFECT THE COSTING SIGNIFICANTLY.
Step 3: Assuming Material Cost
To keep it simple, consider the rate of 3D printing to be INR 100 / cubic centimeter or approx. INR 1638 / cubic inch . (I am assuming this cost to obtain a decent quality prototype. You will find companies quoting as low as INR 5 / cubic centimeter to INR 400 / cubic centimeter depending on quality, material, precision, timelines etc). This price is deduced by calculating the average of all the prototypes that we did.
Step 4 The Cost
You must have figured out what needs to be done in step 4. If in case you haven’t, simply multiple Step 1 x Step 2 x Step 3.
In above example: Approx. costing = 300 x 0.2 x 100 = INR 6,000/-
Again, this cost can vary as much as +/- 50% in cases. But for the standard quality prototype, that is the price. We are parallely working on developing a more precise 3D printing cost calculator that will help you calculate the costing without uploading / sharing your precious CAD.
If you want to stay tuned with the development or would want to get access to the calculator, feel free to comment below.