3D printers are becoming increasingly popular, not only for manufacturing uses in large industries but also for home use to create different items or props, at a hobbyist level.
However, one of the things you need to consider before getting a 3D printer is the expense of it. And we’re not talking about the initial cost of actually buying the 3D printer. We mean the cost of actually running it.
You have to consider things such as the materials used, the programming...but also the basics such as how much electric power it will use.
If you’re going to be using it regularly, it’s good to know how much it will cause your bills to increase!
There are many specifics and factors that go into determining the actual usage of electric power in a 3D printer.
The size of the 3D printer, along with the temperature of the heated bed and the nozzle, are amongst the main determining factors to consider.
But let’s look at the power consumption in more detail, and explore some relevant questions!
Power consumption based on the 3D printer specifications:
The easiest way to determine the range of power consumption of your 3D printer is to check its power specifications.
Every 3D printer will have a maximum and minimum power rating, marking the range of power within which it functions. This can vary from model to model, as well as between sizes and types of 3D printers.
For example, if a 3D printer has a 30A 12V power source, the maximum watt it uses will be 360. And this is the maximum power rating, so it won’t be using that amount of power on average. Nevertheless, it’s a good way of knowing where the top end of the power consumption lies, so you can estimate costs.
It’s also important to remember that the power consumption of a 3D printer isn’t the same throughout the entire time it is running.
When the 3D printer is heating up the necessary parts, such as the heated bed and the nozzle, it will be using up a lot more power than when it is simply printing.
So while it might reach the max wattage when you first turn it on and it’s preparing, it will actually not use up a lot of power during the rest of the printing process, averaging out a much cheaper overall cost!
If you want to adhere to a certain range of power consumption, make sure to check the power source specifications when purchasing the 3D printer.
Electric power cost compared to other 3D printing costs:
In the list of different costs that a 3D printer causes when in use, the electric power isn’t that high up at all. In fact, the likelihood is, you won’t really bother with checking how much power it’s using, as you’ll be more worried about the cost of the materials being used up by it.
As we mentioned, the power consumption throughout usage isn’t always the same. When you turn on the 3D printer and it starts heating up the necessary parts, so that it can begin printing, it will be using quite a lot.
But when it actually gets to printing, which is the more time-consuming part, the power consumption is considerably reduced.
But if you’re still worried about the cost of the electric power, compared to the performance of the 3D printer as a whole, then you should aim to get a cost-efficient one.
A high efficiency will ensure that it gets a lot more done while using less power, and can considerably reduce the expense over prolonged periods of time.
What affects the amount of power used?
Even if you’re using a highly efficient 3D printer that will reduce the power consumption, it’s good to know exactly what specifics can affect the amount of electricity used.
That way you can also adapt the way in which you’re using the 3D printer, and be more conscious about what the power usage is going towards.
Here are a few of the variable factors that can tweak the power used:
The layer thickness:
The lower the thickness of each layer is, the more detailed the end result will be. But it will also take a lot longer, and therefore increase the total power consumption.
If you’re 3D printing a relatively simple item, it might be worth increasing the layer thickness, and saving on time and power.
The printing speed:
The longer a 3D printer takes to print, the more time it’s on and running, and the more power it will have consumed overall. It’s pretty obvious, right?
So if you’re trying to save on energy, you could try and set the printer so that it gets the job done a lot quicker, and isn’t on for as long.
However, you should do this in a way that doesn’t compromise the end result quality too much. It’s all about finding a balance!
Heating efficiency for the heat bed and nozzle:
The biggest bulk of power consumption takes place when heating up the heat bed and the nozzle, which are the key parts of the printer when it comes to printing.
Ensuring that these components are heat efficient, will significantly reduce the amount of power needed to keep them at a suitably high temperature.
The set-up parameters of the 3D printer:
When setting up your 3D printer, it’s important to understand the different consequences of the different settings, so you can adjust them accordingly to get the exact result desired.
The same goes for setting it up to consume less. Knowing your 3D printer will allow you to get the best quality results, with the least amount of power consumption possible.
The overall printing efficiency:
It seems obvious, but the level of efficiency that your 3D printer is designed to showcase will directly affect the amount of power consumed!
How much electric power does a 3D printer use?
Okay, so we’ve gone through the different ways in which a 3D printer consumes power, and we’ve gone through the different factors that will affect the overall amount of electric power used while 3D printing.
But let’s try and answer the question a bit more directly.
How much electric power does a 3D printer use?
An average 3D printer, that is, a 3D printer with an average hot end of 205 degrees Celsius, and a heated bed of 60 degrees Celsius, will usually draw around 70 watts.
This means that for 10 hours of 3D printing, the printer would use 0.7kWh. You can then extract the exact cost depending on the price of your electricity.
However, as indicated by the many variable factors and considerations, the exact amount of power used will vary from printer to printer, and according to its specific use.
How to lower the electricity cost of a 3D printer:
If you’re looking for some tricks and tips on how to lower the overall electricity cost of running your 3D printer, there are quite a few hacks you can implement.
Here are some of the main ones that are proven to be the most significantly useful:
Using a smaller 3D printer:
This one seems a bit obvious, but it’s true regardless. Especially when people aren’t sure of the size of printer they want, they’ll end up getting the bigger one ‘just in case’. Which is fine.
But a bigger 3D printer does mean higher power consumption, so keep that in mind! The printer should only be as big as needed. Any bigger and it’s essentially just a waste of unnecessary cost.
Use 3D printing materials that don’t require as high a heat:
Different 3D printing materials require different levels of heat in order to be used.
3D printing filaments that require higher temperatures are usually stronger and more durable, which is often then equated to a higher quality.
However, it is a lot more cost-efficient in the long run to use filaments requiring a lower temperature, such as PLA filament.
PLA filament is also a lot cheaper to purchase and use, a lot easier to print and provides great detail in the end result.
Use a larger nozzle:
Using a larger nozzle with your 3D printer will significantly speed up the overall printing process, as more areas will be covered at once.
And the less amount of time the printer is running for, the less power consumption.
Use the 3D printer in the warmest room:
This one might seem like a bit of an odd hack, but it can actually help reduce the power consumption quite a bit!
Essentially, if the room is warmer, the heated bed and the nozzle won’t lose their heat as fast, and will therefore retain the necessary temperature without having to be heated up again.
Therefore, reducing the power needed!
Use a 3D printer with an enclosure:
Using an enclosure with your 3D printer helps maintain the temperature needed for the print bed.
That way, the printer doesn’t have to constantly reheat it, which would use up quite a lot of power. Definitely, something to look out for when first purchasing the 3D printer!
Speed up the printing process:
If you adjust the printer settings so that the entire process is a little faster, the printer will be running for less time.
And the less time the printer is on, the less time it is consuming power, and the overall less power it will end up consuming. However, be careful when adjusting the settings, as a faster printing speed will usually reduce the quality of printing.
There are other bits and pieces you can alter and adjust in order to keep your 3D printer as energy-efficient as possible.
Ultimately, it’s down to you knowing the capabilities of your printer, and knowing what to adjust so that it consumes less while providing you with the necessary quality.
Can a 3D printer give you an electric shock?
When it comes to electrical devices, there is always that small risk of getting an electrical shock, which doesn’t always end in a funny story, and can lead to actual serious damage and injuries.
So how safe is a 3D printer? Will it electrically shock you?
3D printers don’t use up a lot of electricity, so they aren’t considered dangerous. If used appropriately and kept in good condition, you should never have to worry about any electric shocks.
However, there are some unfortunate instances in which a 3D printer could give you an electric shock, usually to do with them malfunctioning.
One of the main things that could cause this would be to use an unsuitable power supply with the printer. For example, using too high a voltage by plugging the 3D printer into the wrong socket or by using the wrong plug adapter.
So in order to avoid any issues, make sure you’re always checking the power supply, and using the correct one. And always make sure you’re maintaining the 3D printer in top condition, and storing it in a safe space.
How to measure the electricity usage of a 3D printer:
We’ve pretty much established that the exact amount of power that your 3D printer consumes depends on the many variables and factors that need to be considered and that it changes with each setting and specification, as well as with the actual use of the printer. But how can you measure the exact usage of your printer?
One way would be to calculate the power usage by taking into account all of the different variables, and by knowing the exact usage and cost. But this will take a lot of figuring out, and some maths. (And not everyone is good with maths!)
A much more reliable way of measuring the electricity usage is by using a power meter with an in-built power usage monitor. There are plenty of these monitors available in the market, and some more advanced ones can take even more variables into account and end up giving you an exact cost related to the exact usage.
These monitors essentially have a current sensor that is incredibly precise, and they can monitor the electrical usage in real-time, as they can calculate exactly how much power is being used. They’re a lot more accurate than trying to maths all of the variables together, and they’re super easy to use!
3D printers are becoming more and more accessible, with more people being able to purchase them for at-home use, which opens up many manufacturing and creative possibilities. However, like with all electrical devices, there are costs to consider.
One of these costs is the amount of electric power that they use up when in use.
There are many variables and factors that go into determining the exact amount of electric power that a 3D printer uses, and there are many ways to adjust the printer so that it consumes more or less power overall.
Nevertheless, an average 3D printer will usually draw around 70 watts. That is if it has an average hot end of 205 degrees Celsius, and a heated bed of 60 degrees.
But if you want to calculate the exact amount of electric power that your specific 3D printer is using up, you can either maths up all of the variables, or use a power meter with an in-built power usage monitor, that will be able to tell you the exact amount of power being used in real-time.