Cost of 3D Printing

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  • Dr. Joshua Pearce's paper - Feb 2017 - [1]
  • Energy consumption of 3D printing - based on paper above - 1 KwHr/100 grams of print (10 cents/100g, or 50 cents/lb)
  • Another source of energy cost Indicates 5 hours of printing at 50 watt power consumption rate for a 100 gram print. 25 hours total. About 12 cents for this print - factor of 4 lower than Pearce paper regarding energy costs. [2] and calculator: [3]
  • 10kwhr/kg - or 50 cents per pound energy of printing cost assuming grid electricity. Energy costs are significant. According to Pearce paper. This appears to be way too high. Check calculations.
  • OSE results - printing only: using current uninsulated bed, without enclosed build volume, we use about 150W of power to print when using the heated bed, which is about 3kWhr/lb. This is not efficient, and the use of an enclosure and insulated heat bed should reduce the heating requirements a minimum of 3x. Exact results are to be obtained in Boot Camp 2019. See Research Papers on printing energy efficiency.


In above scenario, cost would be reduced by 2/3 if we went straight from resin to 3D print, without having to make filament. This, if an effective resin feeding system + pellet based extruder were available, this would be a preferred route for large 3D printed objects.

Filament Maker Efficiency

  • 5kW for 1 kg in 1 Hr = 25 cents per lb of filament made at 10 cent/kwhr energy cost. [4]
  • OSE efficiency results: Using Lyman Filament Maker, it takes about 2 hours to produce 1 kg of plastic. The filament maker uses only about 200W of electicity. Thus - we are using 200Whr/lb to make ABS filament from pellets. The elecricity cost is thus only 2 CENTS taking an average cost of grid electricy - of 10 cents/kWhr. If we consider grinding the filament from bulk scrap - that may double of triple the cost - making the filament cost from waste plastic under 10 cents per lb. Exact data to be determined in the Boot Camp 2019.

The Above Is All Wrong

  • Industry standards do not compete with low cost of energy developed by OSE - see Cost of Solar Electricity for the case of the Seed Eco-Home - particularly its PV System
  • In the OSE case, the real cost of solar electricity is 1 cent per kWhr.
  • In the OSE case of Supervolcano with heated enclosure, the electricity cost for printing one pound of polymer is thus under 1 cent as shown here:

How do we explain the 100x factor difference of the Pearce paper above?

  • 10x - for the 10x faster print rate of the SuperVolcano compared to standard nozzles used in the study
  • 10x - for the 10x lower cost of electricty than the grid 10 cent/kWhr standard. Soft Energy Paths discusses that 70% of grid electricity cost is Transmission and Distribution (T&D).