While much attention has been focused on the consumer market, consumer-grade 3D printers are not suitable for large-scale production grade additive manufacturing. Industrial 3D printers are designed for a specific purpose and they have the speed, facilities and robustness which are critical for industrial 3D manufacturing.
They come with a wide range of features and different specifications, that means that the industrial 3D printer price can vary hugely. To identify just how much industrial printers cost, it is worth understanding a little more about them. What is the difference between the consumer 3D printer and industrial 3D printer price and why? Where is it based on and how to compare?
Industrial printers are designed to be used in an industrial setting. This means that they are engineered to print in a different way and they have a higher output of precision and accuracy. Consumer 3D printers are simpler in design and used to create easier models that use less durable materials. Let’s have a look at the main difference so you understand better why the Industrial 3d printer price is always slightly higher.
The big difference in use is often down to the specific construction parameters of both devices. 3D printers that are designed for use in an industrial setting are more advanced as they enable the printing of fully functioning prototypes. Therefore, they are ideal for printing tools and instrumentation. This also means that the creation of a final product is possible using 3D printing.
Consumer 3D printers are designed for different applications. These 3D printers are less advanced and are best used for creating simple models using less durable materials. This means that they are ideal for someone who wants to create individual elements which are not very complicated and do not require high precision or certain physical features.
For those businesses that need the use of more demanding (high-performance) materials, industrial 3D printers come with enclosed chambers. This makes it possible to print at a temperature that is higher and stable which is a requirement for certain print materials. Most consumer 3D printers don’t have a closed chamber, so there are more temperature fluctuations while 3D printing. Therefore you can only use a limited choice of print materials and you have to compromis on the quality of your prints as well. The presence of a casing will result in a higher consumer and/or industrial 3D printer price.
Consumer 3D printers are available as assembled units or Do It Yourself (DIY) kits. Hobbyist which have the technical knowledge and enough time, are happy to build a printer themselves. Of course, this makes the purchase of the consumer printer cheaper compared to the industrial 3D printer price. Industrial 3D printers on the other hand are delivered fully assembled, and often ready to print by arrival. In some cases this is not possible, for example because of the large size of the printer and shipment restrictions. In that case the industrial 3D printer manufacturer often offers a service of installation on location. An engineer of the manufacturer will take care of installing the printer on site.
As mentioned, consumer 3D printers are simpler build than professional 3D printers and that is why the industrial 3D printer price is a bit higher. Having the ability to print complex models and using support material is all down to the quality of the printer and software settings. Also the number of extruders (print heads) can play a part here. If you have a single head extruder, you can print one material.
When you are printing with one material, PLA for instance, it is sometimes difficult to break the supports away from the model. This can cause damage and leave traces that can prove difficult to remove. If supports are printed using a different material to that of the main model, for example water-soluble (PVA) material, it often makes it easier to remove it and reduces the risk of damage and chipping. In this case you need two extruders (dual head), which also influences the industrial 3D printer price.
A consumer 3D printer can be reliable up to a point, but it is limited in what it can design. It does not have the same functions as an industrial 3D printer. Even though, in some cases, these functionalities are not necessary. When it comes to printing a complex object, these additional features such as automatic build plate calibration or out-of-filament sensor, will become a useful option. When printing with a consumer 3D printer, there is a lot to think about, that means that the print time increases and the chance of errors is higher.
When a company considers investing in an industrial 3D printer, the cost of printing with a 3D printer and how it can benefit the business will be ascertained. We will later in this article proof to you that implementing a 3D printer into an industrial environment can deliver significant costs savings, helps to save time and improve productivity.
Using a 3D printer can require a bit of training, which is something that you do not get with a consumer 3D printer because of the way in which they operate as well as their capabilities. In an industrial environment, it is important to understand the potential problems, solutions as well as determining how to ensure a successful print each time. With a consumer 3D printer, there is often no real level of support as users are left to test everything themselves.
When it comes to getting a 3D print right, there can be a huge array of features on the list of settings. This can include things such as extruder (nozzle) temperature, layer height (resolution), printing speed and the distance between the main print and the support, not to mention the heated build platform temperature. The list can be considerably long but the settings have to match the requirements of the printing materials in order to obtain a successful print.
Industrial 3D printers often come with preconfigured software settings, which includes the specific parameters required for certain filaments. They make it possible to print at the highest of quality, while ensuring that the right parameters are in place to help create a successful print. In the case of consumer 3D printers, they often not come with the correct parameters, as they are lower in price and designed for users who want to spend more time tweaking the printing process.
There are many different materials available to print with when using an industrial 3D printer. However, when using a simple consumer 3D printer, the more demanding materials are often not suitable for use. Printers that have been designed for industrial use can handle many different materials like HIPS, ASA, PC-ABS, Nylon (PA) and even the high temperature thermoplastics such as PEEK and PEI/ULTEM. The industrial 3D printer price is a little higher because of this, but it will give companies more design freedom to meet their specifications.
Industrial 3D printers come with a wide range of benefits which we will discuss later in this article. It will enable a business to work to a higher level of efficiency and produce objects that consist of excellent accuracy and quality. However, making the right decision is all about how you plan to use it.
The industrial 3D printer price can vary and so, you need to determine what your budget is and which printer fits in best with that. To find the right printer, it could mean having to prioritize some needs in order to get what really works for you. So, what do you need to consider when it comes to comparing professional 3D printer prices? First consider the size of the printer including the required build volume, second the materials (filaments) you plan to print with, third the specifications. These features (and more) will play into the cost of the printer and what you will be able to achieve with it.
Features to compare:
3D printers come in a number of different sizes depending on the needs. The industrial 3D printer price can vary considerably based on build size. This means, when you want to get most out of your budget, you have to consider first your requirements about the build volume. The bigger the printer you need, the more you will pay for it. Of course if you have a need to print large objects and want to do so in an economical way, then a large volume industrial 3D printer that can print a large object in one process is always the best option. Also when you want to print large batches of smaller objects this is your best choice.
The storage of the 3d printer will also play a part in determining the cost. It could mean that you for example need a warehouse transporter or mobility system if you want to move the printer around.
An industrial 3D printer will enable you to print a with a wide range of print materials, also called filaments. This is where you need to consider what material you plan to use as that can have a detrimental effect on the cost. The materials that you print with will also determine the temperatures that you have to print with. Some materials require high temperatures while others need a lower temperature. This is why you need to think about the build platform (print bed) and extruder temperature, because this will enable you to deliver a successful print.
If you plan to use one material then you can opt for a basic Industrial 3D printer, which will mean that you can opt for a cheaper printer. If you want to print with a number of different materials then you will need to look at a printer with more functionalities, affecting the industrial 3D printer price. As described before there are a few features like a closed chamber and heated build platform which are required to be able to handle the more demanding filaments. The materials that are being used, mostly determine the costs of 3D printing. A lot of professional 3D printers can only print with their own brand of materials, obligating you to buy a particular brand. With ‘open filament systems’ you have more freedom and can choose your own preferred filament supplier.
There can be a number of differences between industrial 3D printers and this especially includes the specifications. Therefore, the better the specifications, the higher the industrial 3D printer price. The specifications could consider the printing speed you require. As faster the speed, the higher the industrial 3D printer price. And of course also the quality of the output counts. The higher the resolution, the more detailed your object will be. This is measured in microns, a high resolution of 10 microns is a layer thickness of 0,01 millimeters. The specifications could also consider the number of printing nozzles. If you will print with one material during a print job, then one nozzle will be fine. But if you want to print with more than one material during one print job, you will need more than a single extruder.
There are also some differences in specifications concerning the first layer adhesion. The first layer is the most important one. When the layer is uneven or the adhesion to the build plate is not sufficient, the whole 3D print can fail. To ensure a good first layer there are some handy features like automatic build platform compensation whereby the build plate is leveled automatically. Also a heated build platform will help as this will improve the adhesion of the layer. Don’t want to deal with glue or hair spray for sticking the prints to the bed? Then a PEI build plate is advisable as it requires no preparation in starting the 3D print. Of course all these features influence the industrial 3D printer price.
There is a difference in the design of 3D printers. Each 3D printer brand has its own look. Some printers have extra bells and whistles that are meant to please the eye. Of course, those printers that have a simpler design can cost a bit less while those that are well designed will cost more.
3D printers with a detailed touchscreens will have a higher price than printers with a basic LCD control panel. A screen can provide you a wide range of functionalities, among which the ability to control the machine directly and track print jobs.
In the comparison with consumer 3D printers, we already described that if you assemble a printer yourself with a DIY-kit, it will save you money. That is why consumer 3D printers are simpler build. However with industrial 3D printers, often the manufacturer wants to make sure you can start 3D printing professionally after delivery. These printers are delivered fully assembled and ready to print by arrival.
When this is not possible, for example because of the large size of the printer and shipment restrictions, the manufacturer will normally offer a service of installation on location. An engineer of the manufacturer will take care of installing the printer on site. This often also includes a customer training to learn to operate the printer and the software.
When 3D printing in an industrial environment, there is every chance that you will need the right software and connectivity solutions to carry out an effective job. Perhaps you require the 3D printer to be connected to a network or you want to connect via USB. Whatever the needs, connectivity is a crucial part of understanding what you require.
The right software will enable you to create print jobs to the highest of standards and share them with the printer. Check if the 3D printing software, for example Simplify3D, is included in the industrial 3D printer price. When you have created a design in for example AutoCAD or SolidWorks, you can save the design as STL file and import the model in the 3D printing software. After indicating the required settings (print material, resolution, etc.), you can save it as Gcode file and transfer it to the 3D printer.
Using a 3D printer is great when it works but if you have problems or need assistance with queries, having the support there when you need it provides peace of mind. That’s why it is wise to check the support level by phone, email and/or live chat.
Paying for a higher level of support could be worth it if you are relatively new to 3D printing, but if you are happy to deal with any problems yourself then you could make savings. In some cases the purchase of an industrial 3D printer can also include a Service Level Agreement (for free). Besides the warranty this will provide extra services and other benefits during a certain period of time.
As mentioned above, there are a lot of different specifications you need to keep in mind when comparing the prices of 3D printers. Price ranges from a 1000 euro’s up to 100.000 euro’s are common in the 3D printing industry. However, when you compare the right specifications and 3D printers, the ranges will be closer.