How much does a 3D Printed HP Multi Jet Fusion Part Cost?
A question that frequently gets ask in the Additive Manufacturing Industry, but often gets answered with, "Well it Depends"
Although it seems like a rudimentary task, there are several technical aspects of pricing a part that is 3D Printed, that cannot be overlooked because it will directly have an impact on your part quality, accuracy, and aesthetic.
Allow me to dissect what factors a 3D Printing Service Bureau, like RE3DTECH, considers when pricing out 3D Printed parts, printed on an HP MJF 4200 printer.
Contrary to belief, we do not walk into RE3DTECH every morning, and just simply hit the "Print" Button, and POOF, your part has been printed!
Although that would be nice, there is a much deeper understanding of the technology needed, and it all must be ascertained when we first look at the file provided for print. Using the provided CAD file, we must consider several factors that will have a direct impact on the quality of the part as it makes its way towards your mailbox.
These factors can be summed up in the following way:
- Size and Orientation of the parts?
- Volume of the part: How much material, Fusing agent, and Detailing agent, must be used to physically build your part?
- How much human capital (Labor Hours) are needed to post-process your parts?
- Is there anything from a design consideration aspect, that can ultimately reduce the cost of your part.
Using these criteria, we access every single part we print, to make sure that we align with the key factors of costing HP MJF Parts
Size & Orientation of part
The first thing that should be taken into consideration, is if your part fits within the Effective Build Envelope. We are limited in the size of parts that we can produce on the HP MJF platforms when Comparing HP's 3D Products.
Your part has to fit within a 380mm (15") x 284mm (11.2") x 380mm (15") build.
Although that is quite a large envelope to fit a part in, we must take into consideration, the orientation of your part to achieve the best quality of part that we are capable of producing.
Being a layer by layer process, you must consider how your part gradually grows with the addition of each new layer. There is one factor that is directly correlated with the quality of your part, and how it looks and feels coming off the printer. Layered processes like Additive Manufacturing's FDM process, can often be associated to parts that have visible layer lines, otherwise know as striations.
How do we combat these issues with visible layer lines?
This is where the orientation of the part comes into play! Consider what would happen if we took the part in the previous image, and tilted it at a 45 degree angle in the X-Axis. The overlap of the current layer, will be dramatically reduced, thus reducing the visible layer lines of the part. This will improve the quality and feel of your part dramatically, but will also increase the amount of space the part will take up in the builds "Z" direction.
If Quality or Aesthetics of your part is of importance to you, we must orient the part at a ∼45 Degree angle, which will result in your part actually taking up more room in the build, thus the cost will likely increaseWhat else can the orientation of your part in the build do for your part?
- Minimize Part Warping
- For best print quality and to minimize warping, long flat surfaces should be positioned flat in the horizontal plane. This is especially recommended if the parts are long and thin.
- Part Strength
- The best mechanical properties of a part are achieved in the XY plane (horizontal), because we build each layer in the Z plane.
- Surfaces needing a high level of detail
- Curved surfaces Smoothness is best achieved with surfaces that are upside down in the build chamber.
- Sharp surfaces should be printed facing up.
What can impact cost from a size and orientation aspect?
If your part takes up the whole build envelope, and we are not able to fit other parts within that same build, you could see the price increase in that regard. On the flip side, if we can add more parts to the build because there is room, then we would pass those cost savings onto you, the customer.
More information about part quality on the HP MJF platform can be found: Here
Another aspect of the cost of your part, is what material is being used to build your parts, and how much of that material is needed.
RE3DTECH offers 2 different types of MJF Nylon material
In the MJF process, these powders are laid down at a 80 micron (.08mm) layer thickness, so consider how many layers it could take to grow your part. The more layers of powder, the more it costs to produce your part.
Don't forget about the agents that are being used to fuse that powder together. These agents are:
- Fusing Agent
- Detailing Agent
These agents are consumed at a volume of part, per any given layer, in the sense that the more surface area a part has, the more agents need to build your part. So the amount of material and agents used, directly impacts your parts cost!
What is often overlooked from a whole industry standpoint, is the non-sexy aspect of processing parts, following printing. Believe it or not, we don't just hit PRINT on our machine, and expect to open the top of the machine, to find our beautiful parts right there, ready to ship.
In reality, the powder that is not fused by the fusing and detailing agent, actually acts as support material for the part. This means, we must unpack a build of parts, clean the parts of excess powder using abrasive blast media + compressed air, and dyed for final part aesthetics.
How will these activities affects the cost of your part?
Well, post processing labor is often overlooked in the sense that we must have human capital in place to properly powder your MJF 3D printed parts. Consider if your part have channels that must be cleaned of excess powder, and now think of the process to remove that powder.
Understanding that HP MJF technology is a very advanced process, you must know that the process for removing that excess powder is quite primitive. We use tools that you might find at a dentists office, to actually depowder channels or that excess powder, so the amount of time and energy put into that process, will have an impact on how much your 3D printed part costs.
Solutions to making your parts cost less
Now that we have a better understanding of what factors can effect your part cost, we will now touch on factors that should be considered when designing for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM).
Hallowing your dense parts
Considering that the amount of material used in the part has a direct correlation to the cost of your part, can you reduce your material usage by hallowing your part?
Hallowing; or having a space or cavity inside; not solid; but empty, is a great way to minimize the amount of material needed to print a part on the MJF process. This is a great way to reduce the cost of your part, but needs to be done with a certain degree of understanding, meaning you can hallow your part, but not to the extent that it compromises your part. Wall thickness is an important aspect of your parts strength/mechanical properties, so defining how much wall thickness is necessary, is a key factor of hollowing.
More information about How to hollow your 3D model
Another technique to reduce the amount of material, whilst not compromising part strength is to incorporate a lattice structure inside your part. A Lattice, is an ordered array of points describing the arrangement of particles that form a crystal. Using a lattice structure in your part, can have the following impacts on your part:
- Reduces the amount of material
- Reduces the weight of your part, while not compromising the integrity of your part.
When implementing a Lattice into your part, an important factor is determining the Unit Cell. A Unit Cell of a crystal, is defined by he lattice points. The unit cell is the smallest part of a crystal that repeated regularly through translation in three dimensions creates the whole crystal.
Topology Optimization/ Generative design
Lastly, one could use topology optimization or Generative design in order to decrease the cost of your part. Topology Optimization, is a mathematical method that optimizes material layout within a given design space, for a given set of loads, boundary conditions and constraints with the goal of maximizing the performance of the system
Designing your part with Topology optimization in mind, will not only make your part more affordable, but in essence, allows you to leverage 3D printing technology to the fullest.
Consider using Generative design for another 3D Printing process, say FDM. Although the part would look optimized after it were post processed, however one must consider the amount of support material that might be needed to print the above design in a FDM process. Are you really optimizing the part for the FDM process?
More information about Generative design from Autodesk
HP's MJF technology is game changing in this aspect, because of the fact that the design created using generative design, can actually be printed with no supports, and the homogeneous nature of the MJF process, allows the part to be fully homogeneous.
Using 3D Printing technologies, you are no longer constrained by processes limitations, so you can design a part anyway you'd like. That being said, you should consider designing your part with cost in mind, knowing what you now know. So I ask you, "How much does your 3D Printed HP MJF Part Cost?"
When your ready, get a quote for your HP MJF 3D Printed Parts below: