Material cost for printing

December 14, 2013 - Comments - 0 comments

One of the most popular pages on this blog is the one on filament volume and length. But, I didn't break down the cost of plastic per volume in that post. Since several people have asked, the really short answer is "about a dollar per cubic inch".

These are ball-park numbers, but the quick take-away is that it's about a nickel per cubic-centimeter, or 75-cents per cubic-inch:

A 1 kg spool of ABS is ~960 cm^3, while PLA is 800 cm^3.

At roughly $40/kg, ABS is roughly $0.04/cm^3, and PLA is $0.05/cm^3.  For non-metric folks, that puts ABS at $0.65/in^3 and PLA at $0.82/in^3.

BTW, a printer can extrude ~100 cm^3 an hour, assuming it's just extruding non-stop at around 10 mm^3/sec.  In practice, the actual output is more like a quarter to half of that. So, as a rough ball-park, your printer can print out about $2 worth of plastic an hour. If you keep your machine busy, that means a roll of filament every two to four days.

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