Is 3D Printing Expensive?

With the rise in popularity in 3D printing more and more people are getting into it and as more people get into it, it will become more accessible, and people are going to start questioning the process and is it worth doing.

As many people are still unfamiliar with it but are starting to have a look at it and how it works, one question people are going to be asking is, how much does it cost.

Is 3D Printing Expensive

This is a fair question as it’s not particularly cheap, it’s not something people are just going to spend a few hundred dollars on.


First thing to consider when 3D printing is the cost of the printer. This is obviously the main part of 3D printing and typical printers come in different types and of course with different models, there’s going to be different prices.

When looking at the different models of 3D printers there will be a few things to consider like the price, what type of materials you’re going to be printing, what type of models, what size models and what level of printing you’re trying to achieve.

If you’re looking to just try it for fun, then you’re not going to be looking at spending a lot on a 3D printer and a basic model will do just fine.

However, if you’re looking to become an advanced user in 3D printing then you may want to consider spending a bit more and taking more time to consider what type of printer that you want.

If you look on websites like amazon you can get an idea of how much printers can cost, and they can start at less than $200, but this will only be the basics.

For those to go further with their 3D printing prices can go all the way up to $20,000, but this will be the best one you could probably buy for your home and will most likely be able to do everything you can expect from a 3D printer.


What type of model you’re going to print is going to have an effect on the cost. Things that will affect the price of a model will be size, density and complexity.

Obviously, the size is going to affect the cost as when printing the bigger the model the longer it’s going to take and the more material you’re going to be using and the more material the more expensive.

The density of the model is a rather big factor to consider as if a model is hollow then it isn’t going to be using nearly as much material as a model that is going to be solid, so be careful when choosing density.

Lastly think about the complexity of the model, this will have impact as it can have risk factors.

If the model is too complex then some things could be missed out by accident, for example structures may need load bearing parts, or certain types of joints.

If these are printed wrong then there’s going to be waste material, and this can be costly.

Also, the more complex the model the more you may be paying for the plans of the model, as you’re not going to be able to create and design everything yourself especially if you’re a beginner.


Materials for 3D Printing

There’s going to be a wide range of materials you’re going to be able to pick up to work on your projects, you’re going to have to find out which material is best suited for your model whilst considering the flexibility, durability, and its uses.

Some models may be wanting to be made out of a flexible plastic, this could be for potential projects like a phone case, you also might want to imitate Lego bricks which will require a more solid plastic and perhaps even a metal project which will likely cost more.

The starting price for filament(materials) to load your printer is around $20 per kilogram, this will be a basic material probably not the strongest or the most flexible, but definitely adequate to get started.

Additional Information

Once you’ve decided on the printer, material, and project that you’re going to be using there’s a couple of other factors to consider. First of all, the electricity bill that you’re going to be racking up using the printer.

With the printer using both motion and heat it’s going to be relatively expensive, especially compared to a lightbulb being on for example as those two costs the most.

An average 10-hour print may cost anywhere between 5 cents and 10 cents depending on which printer and the heat it’s using.

This is why time is also a factor on printing, as not only does it cost man hours making sure the print is going to plan, but also because of electricity consumption and the longer it’s running the more it is going to cost.

If you’re not looking to get your own setup for 3D printing, then going to an external printer may be an option. You’ll be able to tell them your plan and what you want printed, and they should be able to come up with the exact model you want.

Consider size, complexity, and density again when going to an external printer.

A one-off print may be initially cheaper than getting your own setup, but if you plan to get loads of projects completed then your own set up may work out cheaper in the long run.

Final Thoughts

As a starter it is considered fairly expensive all things considered but after you’ve got the initial set up the price does go down significantly per print.

So when buying and setting up your own 3D printer make sure you do the research, make sure you have a goal in mind for your printing, you don’t want to just be guessing which printer you’re going to be buying and what materials.

Guessing may lead to wrong expenditure, for example if you buy the wrong thing that doesn’t work, you’ll likely have to buy something more expensive than what you’ve previously bought and increase the spending for no reason.

If you’re looking to do it just to have a bit of fun, then cheaper printers and materials are recommended as this will be a good place to start and won’t be a complete waste if you decide to change your mind.

Mark Andrews
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