No doubt 3D printing is a fun activity and extremely popular these days, but it can become a bit expensive at times.
You can easily spend several hundred dollars on a 3D printer and its filament. Another recurring cost that you should not ignore is the cost of electricity required by a 3D printer.
Whether you do 3D printing for fun or for business purposes, the money you spend on electricity is something you should keep in mind. Let’s give you a detailed view of how much electricity does a 3D printer consume and the factors contributing to the same.
- 1 What Factors Contribute to the Power Consumption By a 3D Printer?
- 2 Determining the Power Usage By a 3D Printer’s Specifications
- 3 How to Lower Electricity Cost With a 3D Printer?
- 4 What is the Range of Electricity Use For a 3D Printer?
- 5 Comparing the Power Consumption of Different 3D Printers
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 7.1 How Many Amps Does a 3D Printer Use?
- 7.2 Can I Get An Electric Shock From a 3D Printer?
- 7.3 How to Check a Printer’s Power Rating?
- 7.4 Do You Need Backup Power for a 3D Printer? How Does it Affect the Electricity Cost?
- 7.5 Does the Size of Printer Affect Power Consumption?
- 7.6 Can I Measure My Actual Electricity Use?
What Factors Contribute to the Power Consumption By a 3D Printer?
Here is the list of factors:
Heating of the Print Bed
The print bed is the surface where a print head lays down all the material that makes up a 3D printer. Its temperature goes hand-in-hand with the nozzle that melts the filament used to print.
This measure improves bed adhesion while preventing warping, one of the perennial problems that occur when working with high-temperature filaments.
There are two factors to consider when assessing the electricity used by a print bed: the bed’s size and the temperature setting. It also depends on the type of filament you are using. Besides, the larger the bed, the more power it requires to maintain the right temperature.
Heating at the Hot End
The hot end is undoubtedly one of the most power-draining parts of a 3D printer. This is the part of the nozzle responsible for melting the filament. The amount of electricity used in this process largely depends on what temperature you set it to, which also depends on the type of filament you are using.
When working with high-temperature filaments, such as ABS and nylon, you end up using a good deal of electricity.
There are two crucial sets of stepper motors in a 3D printer: the ones that control the extruder and others that control the nozzle’s movement. Although these motors are tiny and require less power, they constantly run for several hours to finish a project.
The components of your 3D printer can reach temperatures above 200°C. These components have to stay at that temperature, and any heat losses to the environment have to be compensated for by the heating element.
This is another problem with 3D printing as the hotter nozzle and the print bed will also have unavoidable high heat losses. If there is any way to minimize the heat loss, then you could save a huge amount in power cost.
The control board is the brain of a 3D printer and is made up of multiple electrical components. These components help control the temperature of the printer, the location of the printer’s nozzle, how the extruder gears run, and various other tasks. Despite the extreme importance of this part, it doesn’t really use a lot of electricity.
From this, we conclude that most of the electricity consumed by a 3D printer goes into heating of the nozzle and the print bed. Although not surprising, this gives us an idea of how to reduce the power consumption of 3D printing projects.
Determining the Power Usage By a 3D Printer’s Specifications
To know the limits of power consumption, you need to know the 3D printer specifications for the power source as well as maximum/minimum power ratings.
For instance, if the printer has a 30A 12V power source, it will have a maximum watt of 360 (30×12=360), but your printer won’t be running at the upper limit always. The maximum will only kick in when heating the necessary parts to begin the printing process. But will fall lower when the process actually starts.
How to Lower Electricity Cost With a 3D Printer?
Despite accepting the fact that you are not adding a huge amount to the electricity bill just because you are using a 3D printer, many of you will appreciate some ways and tips on how to lower electricity costs. So, here we go!
Use Printers With an Enclosure
On the basis of our analysis with certain printers, we found that the presence of a print bed enclosure can drastically reduce the electricity consumption by a 3D printer. This is even more pronounced if you print with a filament that requires a high temperature for both the nozzle and the print bed.
If you aren’t using a high-end printer that has an integrated enclosure, you can simply make your own using some plastic sheets and wooden frames. You will find many tutorials for DIY 3D printer enclosures.
Reduce the Printing Time
Printing time is one of the most important factors that determine the amount of power required for 3D printing. If you can reduce the printing time, you can significantly cut down the power cost.
There are many ways to do the same, but let’s go through the two most effective ones: increasing the printing speed and using thick layers for printing. Obviously, this is not the advice you can always look up to. Factors such as printing temperature, type of filament, and the quality of the finished product should be kept in mind.
Use High-Temperature Filament Only if Necessary
Experimenting with various types of filament materials is a natural part of 3D printing. But sticking with filaments that require high temperature can get pretty expensive in the long run.
Such filaments require not only more heat in the nozzle, but also a hotter print bed. A difference of mere 30° to 40° won’t sound much, but it can make a difference.
If you are worried about using too much electricity with your 3D printer, consider using low-temperature filament such as PLA if you’re printing just for fun. It not only saves power but is also environmentally conscious because of its biodegradable nature.
What is the Range of Electricity Use For a 3D Printer?
To understand this, let’s take the example of Makerbot Replicator+, which according to the specifications, has between 100–240 volts and 0.43–0.76 amps. To convert these, you only need to multiply the lower ends and higher ends.
100 volts x 0.43 = 43 watts
240 volts x 0.76 amps = 182.4 watts
So, the power ranges between 43 and 182.4 watts. From the watts, you can convert it to kilowatts per hour by dividing it from 1000 and then multiplying the total number of hours in use. For example, if you printed for 5 hours, the calculation would be:
43 watts/1000 = 0.043 x 5 hours = 0.215 Kwh for the lower limit
182.4 watts/1000 = 0.182 x 5 hours = 0.912 Kwh for the upper limit
If you take the middle of these two measurements, you’ll have 0.56 Kwh, costing only 5–6c in electricity per hour. This gives you a fair idea of how much electricity a 3D printer uses.
Comparing the Power Consumption of Different 3D Printers
Let’s take a look at how much power 3D printers use, and how it translates into cost. We will start with the extremely popular CR 10 that is known for its distinctive style. It is a solid recommendation for the price it comes at. Many users appreciated the easy assembly, simple design, and the removable glass print bed of the CR 10. Another thing that sets this printer apart from the rest is its low-power consumption. This printer can create some large prints at a consumption of as low as 160 watts.
The next on our list is the Prusa i3 MK2s. The manufacturer has released numerous printers to date, and all have been accepted well. It is known for its easy assembling, amazing print quality, automatic bed leveling, and multiple material support. Talking about the power consumption of PRUSA printers, it requires 80 W when printing with generic PLA and 120 W when printing with ABS.
Moving on to the next 3D printer, it is the Ultimaker 3 Extended. It is a dual extrusion printer that allows using 2 different materials during a single print. In addition, it has a large build volume as compared to most 3D printers in this price segment. It has a maximum power consumption of 221 W.
Last is the Flashforge Creator Pro. It features a large print bed, a rigid metal frame, and an integrated enclosure. Preheating its print bed takes 300 W of power, while the nozzle requires 280 W. The enclosure helps keep heat loss down, and the printer stabilizes to 250 W while printing.
Giving some thought to the power consumption of our devices is just being responsible. The same applies to a 3D printer. 3D printing has become popular with time, and is a hobby for many people. It’s the right time to pay some attention to the power consumption by a 3D printer.
Although 3D printers are power-efficient, it’s not wrong to save up some money by reducing the power consumption. We advise you to try out the ways mentioned above and always look for power-efficient 3D printers. With responsible use, you can cut down power consumption and save money.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Many Amps Does a 3D Printer Use?
The standard minimum for a 3D printer is usually 250 watts. It is enough for a printer with a single hot end and a heated bed of 180x180m.
Can I Get An Electric Shock From a 3D Printer?
You already know about printers that don’t require too much electricity. But that doesn’t mean you cannot get an electric shock from it.
So, the simple answer is that yes, you can get an electric shock from a 3D printer, only if it’s not handled properly. With proper usage of the printer, you will be safe. Make sure to use the right adapter and set the right voltage. It is better to buy or ask the seller to send a UK plus rather than using an adapter.
Electric shocks often happen due to poor grounding, because even a small current flows through the connections from the live wire. Do not use electronic devices that aren’t grounded when they are supposed to be.
How to Check a Printer’s Power Rating?
Just like any other device, your 3D printer has a power rating. For example, if a printer that needs a 30 A 12 V will draw up to 360 watts of electricity.
This is a high figure, but this is also the maximum power that this particular printer can draw. There could be a minute difference in power draw if you print at high temperatures, high-speed settings, or a heated bed.
As far as different models are concerned, you can expect high power consumption in printers with large build platforms and those that can print at high temperatures.
Do You Need Backup Power for a 3D Printer? How Does it Affect the Electricity Cost?
Although you don’t need a dedicated circuit for a 3D printer, you may need a UPS or a battery backup. It is especially important if you temporarily lose power or reside in an area that has an unstable power grid.
As far as the electricity cost is concerned, a UPS won’t create a hole in your pocket. However, it’s best to use solar.
Does the Size of Printer Affect Power Consumption?
A difference in the size of the printer can affect the power consumption. Some small 3D printers use as little as 35–45 watts, while larger ones may go up to 250–300 watts to do the same task on a larger scale, with different types of materials.
On reviewing small- to large-sized 3D printers, we noticed that typical power consumption varies from 0.7 kW/hr and goes up to .24 kW/hr on the larger side.
Can I Measure My Actual Electricity Use?
When it comes to electricity use, there is no ideal measurement as there are many differences and variables. The best thing you can do, instead of guessing the power consumption, is actually measure it.
For this, you can purchase a power meter having an in-built power usage monitor.