3D printers are unique devices that can create 3-dimensional structures, tools, products, and more with them pushing out molten plastic from a tiny nozzle head. However, they are different from say, a 3D pen because they are under the control of a computer. This means that they will not be prone to human error as the entire process is automated.
The reason why they create such detailed pieces is that they work on layers. Once one layer is carefully created and dried, that’s when the printer moves onto the next layer. It is a very controlled process so you can depend on this to create detailed and precise work.
That’s why 3D printers are now used by many small businesses to create their custom creations. However, the 3D printers have great application benefits in the creation of specialized tools and medical prototypes that are not yet ready for mass production.
Keeping all of this in mind, the first question that might pop into your head is how much does a 3D printer cost? While it depends on what size and type of device you’re looking for, bigger models can start at $1500 while you can find cheaper ones for under $500 as well.
Add in the cost of materials, and it is safe to say that buying and maintaining a 3D printer is no cheap feat. If you’re looking into long-term costs, then the biggest question that most people ask is, how much electricity does a 3D printer use?
That’s going to be our main query for the day but we will also add in some other key factors that should be considered, the factors that can increase costs, and how to reduce them.
Do 3D printers use a lot of electricity?
When it comes to a power source, a 3D printer uses electricity to print which means that this is added to your total cost of maintenance and use of a printer. However, as most experts have concluded, these costs will not be super high. Unless your 3D printer is never switched off, you should be good.
In case you run your device for 4 to 5 hours per day, your cost of the electric bill shouldn’t exceed $50. However, this will depend on where you live. According to experts, if your 3D printer has a 205-degrees Celsius hot end and the heated bed is set at 60-degrees, then your total power consumption will be 70-watts.
So, no matter how long your device runs, the costs shouldn’t be too high. The most important factors that go into consideration will be the temperature of the heated bed and how big your printer is.
However, when you have your device, the amount of electricity your 3D printer consumes could vary significantly depending on the model and make of your device. That’s why you’ll need to figure out a way to calculate this usage with a formula that works for any printer.
You can calculate power use via the specifications of your device.
If you want to calculate the total power that is being used, you can easily do this by looking at the specifications of your device. You need to consider 2 factors to calculate the total power consumed. The first one will be the power ratings of your device and the specifications necessary for the source.
A good example is if your printer uses a 30A and 12V power source, you can determine that it uses a total of 360 watts in the maximum range. However, since we understand that the printer will mostly be working on the minimum range, it shouldn’t mean too much power consumption. but the printer won’t always run at the upper limit.
Only when you work at full power and the heating elements are heated up, then you’ll reach the maximum. So, this just goes to show that your focus should be on buying a product that works with low-power consumption.
Now, that we have a better idea of the basics, let’s figure out why so much electricity is consumed in the first place!
Main factors why more electricity is consumed
Your 3D printer has a lot of different heating elements and each comes with its own set of issues or reasons for power consumption. Let’s look at a few main ones:
Loss of heat
Overall, when heating elements such as the stepper motors are heated higher than 200-degrees and don’t come down below that, that’s when you might have to deal with heat loss. The issue however is that not only will you lose heat, but you will need to constantly provide more heat so that the process continues.
The only viable way to deal with this issue and lowering consumption is to find methods to lower the overall temperature.
The control board is another factor although it might be the one you have to worry about the least. It contains many electrical components and acts as the brains of the operation. If your printer is working for longer, then this control board’s power consumption can increase as well.
The temperature of the hot end
When it comes to all these components, there is no doubt that it is the hot end that will drain your 3D printer the most. It especially points to the hot end nozzle. If your filaments are made of ABS or Nylon, you will end up using up more power as they are high-temperature filaments.
The printer bed is heated
Just as the temperature settings of the printer hot end nozzle play an important role in the temperature, so does the heated bed. It is necessary since this is what will better the bed adhesion and ensures components remain consistently shaped while you are printing. As long as you avoid high-temperature filaments, you should be fine.
We have established a few factors that can lead to an increased electric bill when using a 3D printer. Now, let’s look at ways to lower down these costs.
How can I decrease electricity costs using a 3D Printer?
- The first method is to invest in a smaller 3D printing device. If it is smaller, it is bound to soak up less electricity.
- Work with efficiency. If you use settings that get your prints done quicker and more effectively, you will be printing for less time and this will cut down costs.
- Try opting to switch from a smaller nozzle to a larger one.
- Another method is to buy printing materials and plastics that won’t require extremely high temperatures or heated beds to work.
- Try to create a warmer temperature to print in so that your plastics melt easily.
- Another excellent method is to print more projects at the same time so that you finish up quicker.
The idea behind all these methods is to reduce the energy used by the heating elements and of course to cut down the time it takes for printing to occur. If you follow through with these steps, it should be much easier to reduce electric costs while using your 3D printer.
Next, we are going to look at a sure-fire method to calculate your total electricity usage. To accomplish this, you can purchase a power meter.
At the end of the day, each product, area, and device specifications will have its own total use of electricity. Therefore, to find your actual use, you might want to invest in a product that allows you to calculate this yourself. Simply googling this might not apply to your specific situation.
There are a lot of factors that come into play, so to get your own reading, you can buy a power meter. The reason why these are excellent is that they come with integrated power usage monitors. Buying really expensive models will even determine your electric cost, but normal models are great for calculating your overall consumption.
When buying an electricity monitor make sure that it has the following features:
Make sure that the device is reputed if not a premium one. Try looking for one with a warranty so you know it will last. Buy one that is user-friendly unless you’re a professional. Look for products that come with a high-precision current sensor because that is what will do the bulk of the work for you.
You will also want to look for a decent-sized display interface so you can interact with it and get an accurate reading. Finally, you’ll want to buy a monitor that can read voltage as low as 0.20W so that it won’t miss anything.