Gold 3d printing machine price

Can You 3D Print Gold? The Complete Guide to Gold & Gold Filament 3D Printing

3D printing gold is in theory no different to any other type of metal printing. In practice however, there is more to be considered.

Gold’s properties make it unsuitable for some of the more reliable and accessible metal 3D printing techniques. However, these same difficult properties make it suitable for methods previously considered too specialist or expensive.

Whilst yes, you can 3D print gold using the same techniques as you would to 3D print any other metal, as you’re about to see, some will produce far better results than others.

However, hobbyists have more recently taken to mimicking gold with gold filaments that retain the metallic aesthetic and shiny gold color. This gets you most of the look, but without the cost or difficulty.

This article both explains how you can 3D print precious gold metal with metal 3D printing, as well as these more accessible alternatives.

So, with that in mind, how exactly can you 3D print gold?

A 3D printed gold pendant, available for purchase

3D Printing With Gold Filament

Metal filaments, also known as metal-filled filaments, are perhaps the most accessible way of 3D printing metal.  These filaments are made from a mixture of metal powders and a polymer — usually PLA filament.

Mixing the metal with polymers means that even at high concentrations, metal filaments can be extruded through most FDM 3D printers. Additionally, these prints have similar properties to solid metal.  They can be polished, magnetic, and even patinaed.

Metal-filled Pokémon 3D prints

Any metal can be used to create a metal filament, including gold. However, doing so is very impractical.

As a precious metal, one of gold’s defining features is its expense. Whilst it is true that gold filament can be made, doing so is simply too expensive to try. For example, if a manufacturer produced 1kg of gold filament, and used enough gold powder to make it resemble solid gold, then the resulting single spool would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

The current price of gold is around $58,000 per kilo. Standard filament mixes are usually around 30% of the mixed material, and 70% PLA. The cost of the gold, not including any work to mix it into the filament, would therefore cost over $17,000.

The result is that gold-filled filaments are essentially unavailable for purchase. Even if a customer was willing to buy the product, no company is currently manufacturing it. In fact, the closest we’ve ever gotten was an April fool’s joke. In 2019, XYZprinting announced their new “24 carat gold filament,” with a pre-order price of $50,000 per 1kg spool.

What About “Gold Colored” Filaments?

For people still keen on using an FDM printer, there is the option of using gold colored metal filaments. These are usually mixtures of bronze or copper powders with colored polymers.

They’re great for fun maker projects designed to resemble and mimic gold, though they won’t help those striving to 3D print precious metals.

A gold colored PLA filament and print.

So, with gold-filled filaments ruled out, printing gold rings on your home FDM printer is a non-starter.

However, there are ways around this. As our next method demonstrates, you can still 3D print your own gold, you’ll just need a more specialized 3D printer.

DMLS 3D Printed Gold

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is the closest we have to a true “gold 3D printer.”

The process again uses metal powders, but rather than being held in a polymer solution, lasers are instead used to fuse the powders together into a 3D object.

The process begins with the DMLS machine’s print bed being coated with a layer of gold powder. Lasers then fuse this powder into the object’s first layer. The print bed is then lowered, another layer of powder is applied, and the process is repeated. Once complete, the final object can be retrieved from the unsintered gold poweder it is submerged in.

DMLS 3D printed gold cufflinks

Reusing 3D Printed Gold Powder

DMLS stands out as a more efficient way of 3D printing gold. Unlike metal filaments, DMLS prints are solid gold and therefore aren’t diluted with polymers. 

Gold powder is still expensive though, and not all the powder used in DMLS ends up in the final object. Instead, much of the powder is simply unused, with the lasers fusing around them each layer.

This could be a significant issue. Wasted gold powder ultimately results in wasted money. However, depending on the DMLS machine used, wastage isn’t necessarily a problem.

Although material loss can occur, most precious metal specific DMLS machines are designed to preserve as much unused material as possible.

Product artist, Lionel T Dean, addressed this whilst revealing his collection of 3D printed jewelry in 2015:

“when we started off, we were using a regular laser sintering machine, but this has a lot of cavities and places where powder can get trapped and lost. Obviously with the high value of gold powder, it’s important to capture every speck of material.”

Lionel T Dean

So, DMLS results in solid gold prints and doesn’t waste gold powder. However, despite how effective DMLS could be for 3D printing gold, it is too expensive for most gold uses.

Disadvantages Of DMLS Gold Printing

DMLS machines are large and industrial 3D printers. They cannot simply be ordered online like a typical FDM 3D printer. Instead, conversations with the manufacturer will have to be arranged, and lead times can be long.

Prices aren’t readily available as manufacturers will usually tailer their quotes specifically to their clients. But as a guide, DMLS machines rarely cost less than $50,000 and can cost up to $1 million depending on the operation’s scale. 

A precious metal DMLS machine

This makes purchasing a DMLS machine unrealistic for most individuals wanting to 3D print their own gold. However, the technique has seen success as a gold printing service instead.

We also have a buyer’s guide for metal 3D printers

DMLS and Gold 3D Printing As a Service

The process of using a gold 3D printing service is like any other. Customers design their model in 3D modeling software, the file is sent to the 3D printing company, they provide a quote, and if accepted, they 3D print the object in gold.

Although a service fee must be paid, using a DMLS service remains an affordable and practical way for individuals to turn their designs into gold.  

But what if you want to produce your design yourself? Perhaps you prefer more control over the final piece, or want the satisfaction of 3D printing your own gold? Well, there is one final option.

Lost Wax Casting

Lost wax casting is an ancient method of forming precious metals. The technique is potentially as old as recorded history, with some archaeological finds believed to be lost wax cast in 3700 BC.

An ancient lost wax cast amulet from the Indus Valley civilization

Remarkably, the technique has changed little throughout the centuries, and is still used by professional jewelers today. But this doesn’t mean that the introduction of 3D printing hasn’t created new opportunities for the process.

The Process

In general, lost wax casting begins with a design sculpted in wax. Wax sprues are then attached to the sculpt. The sculpt is then molded in plaster, but the end of the sprues are left exposed in the bottom of the mold.

The mold is then heated, melting the wax but leaving the plaster intact.  Because the sprues were connected to an opening in the bottom of the mold, as they melt they become channels that the rest of the wax and any trapped gases can flow out of. 

With the wax gone, the plaster mold will be left with a negative impression of the original design. This mold can then be flipped, with the channels now serving as funnels for the molten gold to be poured into.

The gold will flow into the negative impression, creating a positive golden cast of the original wax design. Once the gold has set, the plaster can either be broken open, or dissolved in water, leaving behind a golden object. Once polishing or other finishing has been applied, the piece is complete.

A small scale lost wax casting operation

Not only does lost wax casting produce solid gold objects, but it also does so without expensive machinery. In fact, the equipment needed to cast gold rings can easily cost less than $100 (excluding the gold and a 3D printer), meaning that individuals can easily begin lost wax casting.

Resin 3D printers capable of 3D printing jewelry are cheaper than ever before. Though not as accurate as more expensive printers, you can now buy LCD printers with adequate precision to create detailed wax molds, costing just $200.

Check out our buyer’s guide for resin 3D printers

We also have a buyer’s guide for 3D printers for jewelry

The Impact of 3D Printing of Gold and Precious Metal Production

3D printing’s involvement in the process is minimal, but still offers valuably opportunities.

Instead of manually sculpting an original wax design, the initial sculpt can instead be 3D printed in wax. This is perhaps less useful for artists who can already manually sculpt.

However, for designers already familiar with software sculpting, it’s an opportunity to turn their original models into gold. Additionally, it opens the door for any 3D printable object to be cast in gold, without needing expensive equipment or expertise.

3D printed rings, and their lost wax casts

More generally, another implication of 3D printing is the increased accessibility of the entire jewelry making process.

3D printing gold: for entrepreneurs

A growing trend is for individuals to start their own jewelry businesses. However, instead of renting factories or workshops, these individuals will outsource all the labor other than the original wax 3D print.

You can also check out our guide to starting your own 3D printing business

These entrepreneurs use local jewelry districts to cast their own 3D designs and create custom gold or other precious metal pieces on-demand, and without owning any equipment.

As gold retains its value when processed into jewelry, such a venture is relatively low risk, as unsold products can still be sold as metal for only a small loss. Additionally, because the various services within jewelry districts are in competition, labor prices are generally fairly cheap.

LA’s Jewelry District

3D printing the wax models makes the process even more accessible. These entrepreneurs once had to design or commission their pieces. But now, 3D printing allows them to instead print wax models ready for casting, saving them valuable time and money.

With suitable 3D printers starting at $200, and stunning 3D jewelry models buyable online for around $30, 3D printing has become an essential part of these entrepreneur’s processes.

Is Lost Wax Casting for You?

Despite this, 3D printing hasn’t revolutionized the process. Lost wax casting remains a slow and labor-intensive way of 3D printing gold.

A lost wax cast gold ring, still attatched to its supports

Large or complex objects can take days to complete, though a gold ring can be made in a few hours. Additionally, and like any skill, it requires practice to get reliable results, with every cast being affected by the jeweler’s skill.

Ultimately, lost wax casting is a great opportunity for individuals and small businesses to try 3D printing their own gold.  However, for operations large enough to justify the expense of a DMLS machine, lost wax casting will largely be overlooked for its consistent and automatic production.

Which Method Should You Use?

Regardless of the method used, 3D printing with gold will always remain an expensive prospect.  Not because the technology available is lacking, but rather because working with gold will always be expensive.

Having said that, if your operation is big enough to justify it, DMLS machines will serve you well. Otherwise, consider using a gold 3D printing service, or if you’re brave enough, lost wax casting your own 3D printed gold.   

5 Best 3D Printers For Jewelry 2022 (All Price Ranges!)

3D printing jewelry rarely means 3D printing actual wearable pieces made from filament or resin, but instead using a jewelry 3D printer to create high-resolution wax models of the eventual gold or platinum design, used to create a mold that is burned out and cast via investment casting or lost wax casting.

  • We also have an article ranking some of the most beautiful 3D printed jewelry.

In fact, much jewelry is now created this way. There are entire factories of resin 3D printers set up to create castable wax resin models to be molded and then melted to create high-end jewelry.

However, owning your own jewelry 3D printer gives you more control over your production, and saves you money compared with paying someone to print your own molds. Castable resin molds can be produced for rings and other jewelry pieces for just the cost of the resin used, perhaps a dollar or two, whereas you could end up paying $25+ for someone to print it for you.

NameBuild volume (mm)PriceWhere to buy
Elegoo Mars 2 Pro129 x 80 x 160$250Elegoo here
Peopoly Phenom276 x 155 x 400$1,999Matterhackers here
Formlabs Form 3145 x 145 x 185$3,499Dynamism Store here
Solidscape S3256" x 6" x 4"QuoteGet a Quote here
EnvisionTEC D4K Jewelry148 x 83 x 110QuoteGet a Quote here

The Jewelry 3D Printing Process
  1. CAD File: Either design your own jewelry piece on CAD software, pay someone to design your desired piece, or pay for an existing jewelry STL file online and download it.
  2. Slice & Prepare: If not already an STL or other compatible file, export it as one. Then import it into your 3D slicer and slice it for printing.
  3. Print the model: Use a castable wax resin designed for jewelry model 3D printing.
  4. Molding: Pour your molding material over your wax jewelry model, and leave it to harden.
  5. Melt the wax: Heat your new mold so that the original wax model melts and evaporates, leaving a hollow empty space inside with the exact dimensions of your planned jewelry piece. 
  6. Casting: Pour melted liquid metal e.g. gold, silver or platinum into the mold to cast it.

What are 3D printers for jewelry?

Resin 3D printers are considered the best 3D printers for jewelry. They are used with specialized castable wax resins, which rather than going from solid to liquid when heated, transition directly into a gas from their solid state.

Though prevalent, FDM 3D printers are very rarely used as 3D printers for jewelry. They are not capable of the same resolutions, crisp surface finishes or accuracies required for intricate and delicate jewelry pieces. Jewelry 3D prints need to be incredibly highly detailed and accurate — an inaccurate mold will create inaccurate and unimpressive jewelry.

Additionally, the better the jewelry 3D printer quality, the less finishing the resulting jewelry piece will need to perfect it.

What do jewelry 3D printers make?

Usually they 3D print wax jewelry molds, for example of ring designs before any stones are set, or individual chain links. 

However, they can also be used to create like-for-like “fitting pieces” for testing the fit of an as-yet unmade ring for a client’s finger. Though making the final ring would be expensive and take time, an exact replica can be made on a jewelry 3D printer in just minutes to test the sizing.

This saves the trouble of creating a piece just to find it doesn’t fit properly. Whereas for jewelry molds specialized castable resins are required, for these fitting pieces standard resins can be used.

3DSourced is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The best 3D printers for jewelry

1 — Elegoo Mars 2 Pro

  • Jewelry 3D printer price: $250 — Available at Elegoo store here / Available on Amazon here
  • Build volume: 129 x 80 x 160 mm

Featuring a 6-inch monochrome LCD screen offering HD 2K resolution, the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro offers precise jewelry printing for the price. Rather than DLP or SLA, the Mars 2 Pro uses LCD printing to cure entire resin layers at once, quickening print speeds and able to print at 30-50mm/h.This is the detail we achieved when using the Elegoo Mars 2 pro – enough for fine jewelry pieces.

Other 3D printers for jewelry on this list offer better quality, but for the price the Mars 2 Pro is a great option. It is sturdily built with its CNC-machined aluminum structure for better stability, and the mono LCD is upgraded for improved lifespan to save you money over the long term. It’s one of the best 3D printers for jewelry under $500.

The Elegoo Mars has Z-axis resolutions of up to 0.00125mm, XY-resolutions of 0.05mm, and weighs 6.2kg. It also supports 12 different languages, so if you’re not a native English speaker you can choose your own language.

The video below even shows, from start to finish, how accurately you can make wax models for gold jewelry using a standard Elegoo Mars. Even this standard version produces good quality wax models, and the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro comes with several upgrades on the original.Printing on our Elegoo Mars 2 Pro – read our full review here.

2 — Peopoly Phenom

  • Jewelry 3D printer price: $1,999 — Available on Matterhackers here
  • Build volume: 276 x 155 x 400 mm

The Peopoly Phenom offers truly enormous printing volumes, almost unheard of for a jewelry 3D printer. For jewelers looking to produce many rings or other pieces simultaneously, this larger volume provides space for dozens of wax jewelry models. If you’re in demand for jewelry and want to make as many as possible then this larger build volume is crucial.

With its 4K high resolution projection quality using MSLA technologies, the Phenom produces crisp, accurate and consistent jewelry molds. MSLA takes elements from both LED and LCD technologies, the result being fast, accurate and repeatable jewelry 3D printing.

  • The even larger version, the Peopoly Phenom L, is available here.
  • For faster print speeds, the premium Peopoly Noir is available here.

The Phenom uses Chitubox resin 3D slicer, useful if you’ve previously used it previously on another printer. Overall, it’s one of the best 3D printers for jewelry, and a great choice for people looking to make large numbers of castable wax jewelry models.

3 — Formlabs Form 3

  • 3D for jewelry price: $3,499 — Available on Dynamism here
  • Build volume: 145 x 145 x 185 mm

Seen as the gold-standard in professional resin printing, the Form 3 is capable of fantastic precision, with its new custom Light Processing Unit (LPU) using lenses and mirrors to accurately print jewelry models.

For the price, the Form 3 offers 25-micron resolutions and very consistent and repeatable printing. For those looking for a 3D printer for jewelry able to produce the same design flawlessly again and again, or for producing custom intricate designs, the Form 3 can handle both without issue.

Formlabs make their own castable wax resins designed for jewelry with “crisp settings, sharp prongs and smooth shanks.” Within the Formlabs workflow therefore is a complete jewelry production process for wax models, though the Form 3 also excels as a dental 3D printer and in other industries, too.The Form 4, and several jewelry wax models it 3D printed.

4 — Solidscape S325

  • Price: Requires a quote
  • Build volume: 6” x 6” x 4”

Soliscape make specially designed jewelry 3D printers, so any Solidscape printer you buy is optimized for jewelry printing. Whereas other printers like the Form 3 are designed to excel in a number of industries, the Solidscape S325 is designed with jewelry wholly in mind.

The S325 is the cheapest of Solidscape’s jewelry 3D printer range. It offers great accuracy, material jetting wax models for the precise and effective investment casting of precious metals. Solidscape stress that all their models are castable in gold and platinum, and do not expand or shrink during the investment casting process.

The S325 is capable of 0.001-inch layer thicknesses, with accuracies of 0.005 inches. Overall, as a specialized 3D printer for jewelry, Solidscape have a rich history in jewelry 3D printing and can be trusted to deliver high-quality and precise ring wax models, time and time again.

Get a quote*

*One of our trusted partners will be in touch following a quote request.Compressed by jpeg-recompress

5 — EnvisionTEC D4K Pro Jewelry 3D printer

  • Jewelry 3D printer price: Requires a quote
  • Build volume: 148 x 83 x 110 mm

Described by EnvisionTEC are the highest resolution professional-grade desktop 3D printer, as well as claiming to have the fastest speed, the D4K is well suited to jewelry 3D printing. Speed and accuracy are key to jewelry production, with the printer’s 4K UV DLP projector able to create crisp wax models at speed to be cast into stunning jewelry pieces.

EnvisionTEC are the originators of DLP 3D printing, having pioneered the process more than a decade ago. Now, their advanced D4K Pro can produce accuracies of up to 25 microns in the XY resolution, and 1 micron on the Z axis.

The jewelry 3D printer works well with EnvisionTEC’s WIC100 Series wax material, used to then burn out and investment cast precious jewelry. Though it’s an industrial 3D printer costing over $10,000, larger jewelers will find the D4K one of the best 3D jewelry mold printers.

Get a quote*

*One of our trusted partners will be in touch following a quote request.

Advantages of owning a jewelry 3D printer

  • Saves money long term: rather than paying a 3D printing service $20+ to print your mold for you, you can print your own wax jewelry molds for just a dollar each.
  • Control your own jewelry production: with the ability to print jewelry in-house, you control your own workflow and apart from resin shortages, cannot be slowed down by supplier failures. Your order will always be top priority.
  • Fast: going from CAD model to a piece ready to be investment cast is quick, especially when you can print and cast everything in one place.
  • Very accurate: precise, smooth and intricate jewelry is not an issue for jewelry 3D printers, some able to print with below 10-micron accuracy to capture your ring’s most delicate and beautiful features.
  • Repeatable and scalable: 3D printers for jewelry can create potentially dozens of identical or customized ring molds at once, perfect for scalable jewelry production.

How to calculate the cost of printing on a 3D printer

Home / Blog / Useful / The cost of 3D printing. Examples of models with prices



    • Available Technologies and the main differences
      • FDM 3D
      • Photopolymer printing
      • Industrial printers
      • Availability 3D-print
      • 999 Printing examples
    • Custom 3D printing
      • The cost of commercial 3D printing
      • What is not profitable to print
      • Examples of commercial printing
    • Totals

For some ideas, 3D printing is the fastest and easiest solution. In some situations, purchasing your own 3D printer can be a good solution, but sometimes it is much more profitable and faster to order the necessary product from a company specializing in 3D printing. Yes, and many owners of a 3D printer are thinking about how to “monetize” their hobby, but how to correctly calculate their costs?

Despite the fact that it is customary to indicate the price per gram of working material, simply multiplying the weight of the model by the cost of 1 gram will be wrong. In addition to the cost of consumables, many more, at first glance, non-obvious costs are added to the price of the product.

Each 3D printing technology uses its own consumables. Let's analyze the most popular and affordable of them.

Available technologies and key differences

Currently, a huge number of 3D devices have appeared, from small desktop ones that fit on the desktop to huge industrial machines. Among the most affordable, 2 technologies can be distinguished - FDM and photopolymer printers (LCD / DLP / SLA).

FDM 3D printing

Today, the most affordable 3D printing technology is FDM. A variety of materials and 3D printers allow FDM to be applied to a wide range of applications.

Schematic operation of FDM printer

A large selection makes it easy to choose a 3D printer for a specific task or find a universal device.

The material for printing is a plastic thread - filament. On the market you can find filament for various tasks, for every “taste” and budget. These can be very inexpensive ABS and PLA plastics or specific ones - conductive, burnable, etc.



Despite the fact that FDM allows you to print a wide range of plastics with different properties, the technology has some limitations. For example, it is impossible to obtain a perfectly smooth surface, to produce miniature and very thin elements, or to produce parts with very complex internal geometry with high accuracy.

Photopolymer printing

Photopolymer printers can work on one of 3 technologies - SLA, DLP or LCD. These devices will come to the rescue if you need to make a small but very detailed model with many small details.

How photopolymer printers work

As a consumable material, a photopolymer resin hardened by UV radiation is used. Now there is a wide variety of photopolymer resins for every taste. From particularly strong and precise engineering or jewelry resins to soft flexes.


  • High print precision

  • Good surface quality

  • A wide variety of printers and consumables


Photopolymer printers have shown themselves well in a variety of industries that require a perfectly smooth surface and high accuracy. They are used in dentistry, the jewelry industry, for making miniature master models for casting, and much more.

Industrial printers

These are already industrial machines, which require a separate room and sometimes certain requirements for ventilation, etc. In this article, we will not analyze these devices in detail, but briefly consider the most popular technologies.


In addition to desktop devices using FDM technology, industrial printers that work on the same principle are common.

This category includes devices with a large print area (from 30x30x30 cm and more). For example, Raise Pro2 with a print area of ​​30x30x30 cm.

Raise Pro2

Or machines designed for printing with refractory materials (eg PEEK). Such 3D printers usually have an active thermal chamber, and the extruder can be heated above 400 degrees.

CreatBot F160-PEEK for use with refractory plastics

Photopolymer printers

Industrial photopolymer devices usually have a much larger working area, compared to their "home" brothers. In addition, many processes have been optimized and automated for faster operation. On such printers, you can quickly and accurately produce a small batch of models, a large prototype or a master model.

Prismlab Large Area Industrial Resin Printer Family

Free Shipping

Add to compare

Product added to compare Go

Manufacturer CreatBot

Free Shipping

Add to compare

Product added to compare Go

Manufacturer Raise3D

Free Shipping

Add to compare

Product added to compare Go

Manufacturer Prismlab

Free Shipping

Add to compare

Product added to compare Go

Manufacturer Prismlab


3DP - Three-Dimensional Printing (translated as three-dimensional printing) is a logical continuation of conventional two-dimensional printers. Printing is done using nozzles that selectively apply a binder to the material (usually gypsum). A dye can be added to the binder and the model will be colored.

Colored plaster model

Since the plaster model is fragile, a similar principle is used for printing with metals. Only the finished product needs to be treated in an oven to remove the binder and improve strength. But despite the processing, such metal prints will still be inferior in strength to cast products.


This is a proprietary technology of 3D Systems. MJM is a mix of FDM, 3DP and sometimes SLA (depending on material chosen). Printing is done using a variety of small nozzles (from 96 to 488) located on the head of the machine. The accuracy and quality of the surface of models made in this way is in no way inferior to photopolymer printers.

Models made with MJM technology

Such devices can work with photopolymer resins, wax or thermoplastics. You can combine several materials at once - for example, for complex models, you can use wax as a support.


SLM is the layer-by-layer sintering of metal powder using a powerful laser. There are several similar technologies - SHS/SLS. The principle of operation is the same, only a thermal print head is used instead of a laser beam.

SLM Turbine

As a material for printing, you can use powders of various metals - gold, stainless steel, aluminum, various alloys, etc.

During printing, the working chamber is filled with an inert gas to prevent oxidation of metals. This allows printing even with titanium powder.

Models made by this method are in no way inferior, and sometimes even superior, to cast products. SLM allows you to produce models with complex internal geometry that cannot be produced by another method (casting or milling).

Cost of 3D printing

The cost of a model usually consists of several factors.

  • Equipment depreciation. The printer, like any machine, requires maintenance and periodic replacement of some parts. During operation, belts gradually stretch, bushings or linear bearings wear out. For example, when bushings or linear bearings are worn; shafts may wear out and need to be replaced.

Cost of materials

The main cost item for a 3D printer is, of course, the printed material.;

FDM (plastic filament)

Since FDM technology is by far the most common, the choice of filaments is very diverse.

  • Engineering plastics are usually nylon with various fillers added to improve the physical characteristics of the finished model. Special cost. plastics starts from 2000r per coil and above. It all depends on the manufacturer and filler (carbon fiber, fiberglass, etc.).

  • Decorative plastics are used to imitate various materials. Plastic can simply be unusually colored (luminous, transparent plastics) or a special filler is added to it (plastics with metal powder). The cost of decorative plastics starts from 1500 rubles per coil and more, depending on the filler.

A big advantage of FDM is the diverse choice of materials to work with. This allows, having one printer, to produce almost any product - from a child's toy to a complex engineering prototype.

Photopolymers (resin)

Photopolymer resin printing technology is becoming more and more accessible. There are many different resins.

  • The cost of ordinary colored resin starts from 2500 rubles per 0.5 kg (volume +/- 0.5 l). You can find a smaller volume of resin (250 gr) on sale. You can buy several different resins in small containers and find out in practice which one is best for a particular model.

  • Engineering resins are resins with increased strength. They can be used not only for printing decorative items, but also for making functional prototypes and models. The cost for 0.5 kg starts from 5900r and above.

  • Special resins - burnable, dental, soft flexes, etc. Depending on the resin, the price for 0.5 kg can start from 4800 rubles and more. It all depends on the characteristics of the resin.

Photopolymer resins have not yet reached such a variety as FDM filaments, but they are surely catching up. Although due to the fact that a liter of resin costs significantly more than a spool of filament, the cost of the product is much higher.

Print examples


Mag Pull for G3 magazines.

The model was downloaded for free from an open source (the file can be downloaded here). Printing with engineering carbon-filled plastic (price per spool from 4700 rubles). The weight of the model with support is about 25 grams. Post-processing was not needed. The cost of the finished model is 250 rubles.

Plastic fastener

The file was downloaded from an open source (can be downloaded here). Plastic - carbon-filled nylon (price per coil from 4700r). The weight of the finished product is about 20 grams. Print without post-processing. The total cost is 200 rubles.

Model watch

The model is modeled to order (the cost of modeling is from 1000 rubles). The product is printed on an industrial printer using soluble support. Print without post-processing. The cost of the finished product - from 700 rubles per piece (depends on the number of required products).

Traction prosthesis

The model is taken from an open source (you can download the modified version of the prosthesis here). The weight of the used material is about 600 gr, printed with ABS plastic (the cost of the coil is from 800 r). After printing, post-processing and assembly took place. The total cost of the product - from 3000 r (depends on the print material, support material, filling, etc.).

Pedal layout

Production of a 3D model according to the drawing (from 1000 r). The weight of the finished model is about 200 gr. The product was printed with engineering carbon-filled plastic (the cost of the coil is from 4700 r). Post-processing was not needed. The cost of the finished product is about 3000 rubles.

Photopolymer printers

Model jaws for crowns

Files for printing were obtained using a 3D scanner and finalized in a 3D editor (the cost of scanning is from 3000 r, the cost of manual revision is from 1000 r). Printing on an industrial photopolymer printer. Post-processing is not needed. The cost of the finished product is from 80 r per gram.

Burnout resin rings

The model is made to order. Printing on a desktop SLA printer with a burnable polymer. Post-processing is not needed. The cost of the finished product is 200 rubles per product.


The models were bought on the myminifactory website (the cost of the model is from $2). Made with a desktop DLP printer. Post-processing was not required. The cost of the finished figurine is from 70 r per gram.

Custom 3D printing

Many owners of 3D printers are thinking about monetizing their hobby. But you should understand that the price of 3D printing “for yourself” and the price of commercial printing are very different.

When starting to print to order, it is better to have several printers working on different technologies.

Cost of commercial 3D printing

In addition to the cost of the model, to the commercial production of products, you can add:

  • Modeling. Often the client needs not only to make a part, but to pre-model it. It can be a simple cogwheel that doesn't take long to model, or it can be a complex sculpture that takes more time to model than it does to make.

  • Model post-processing. This can be simply the removal of supports, with cleaning of the place of their contact with the product, or a complete processing cycle (puttying, surface grinding, painting, etc. ).

It should be borne in mind that it is not always possible to print the model the first time. Sometimes it may take several attempts. And these are additional costs.

What is unprofitable to print

Despite the wide possibilities of 3D printing, there are models that are unprofitable to make on a 3D printer. For such models, it is better to use other manufacturing methods.

Commercial print examples

Jewelry for further casting

Manufacture of promotional items and souvenirs

Piece miniatures or master model for further casting

3D printed model

Profitable to print on a 3D printer:

  • If the item is only sold as an assembly. For example, a small gear broke in the mechanism, but the mechanism is sold only “assembly”. It is much cheaper to make the desired gear on a 3D printer than to buy the entire mechanism.

  • A small batch of parts. Small batches, especially models with complex geometry, are more profitable to produce on a 3D printer than by casting or other methods.


If you need several models or a small project, sometimes it will be more expedient to outsource manufacturing. After all, in addition to buying equipment and materials, you will have to understand the nuances of the settings and the characteristics of various materials.

Buying a 3D printer for commercial use is justified if you can fully load it with work or then it can be used for other purposes.

To print to order, you need to have several printers working on different technologies. It is better to get several devices with a smaller print area than to buy just one printer, albeit with a large working area.


Expert in additive technologies and 3D printing with over 5 years of experience.


all materials

Do you have any questions?

Our specialists will help you with the choice of 3D equipment or accessories, consult on any questions.

Metal 3D Printing - The Essential Guide

There is no hotter trend in 3D printing today than metal. We will talk about metal printing at home, how it is done on an industrial scale, about technologies, applications, printers, processes, prices and materials.

Metal 3D printing has grown in popularity over the past few years. And this is quite natural: each material offers a unique combination of practical and aesthetic qualities, can be suitable for a wide range of products, prototypes, miniatures, decorations, functional details and even kitchen utensils.

The reason metal 3D printing has become so popular is because the printed objects can be mass-produced. In fact, some of the printed parts are just as good (if not better) than those made with traditional methods.

In traditional production, working with plastic and metal can be quite wasteful - there is a lot of waste, a lot of excess material is used. When an aircraft manufacturer makes metal parts, up to 90% of the material is simply cut off. 3D printed metal parts require less energy and waste is reduced to a minimum. It is also important that the final 3D printed product is up to 60% lighter than a traditional part. Billions of dollars could be saved in the aviation industry alone—mainly through weight savings and fuel savings.

So, what do we need to know about metal 3D printing?

3D metal printing at home

If you want to make objects at home that will look like metal, it is best to pay attention to metalized PLA filaments (Photo: colorFabb) 9002 C 9002 C where to start if you want to print metal objects at home? Given the extreme heat required for true metal 3D printing, a conventional FDM 3D printer will not be able to do this.

It is unlikely that in this decade it will be possible to print with liquid metal at home. Until 2020, you probably will not have a printer specialized for this purpose at home. But in a few years, as nanotechnology advances, we may see significant developments in new applications. This can be 3D printed with conductive silver, which will emit in much the same way as it does in 2D home printers. It will even be possible to mix different materials like plastic and metal in one object.

Materials for metal 3D printing at home

Even though you can't print actual metal objects at home, you can turn to plastic filament that has metal powders added to it. ColorFabb, ProtoPasta and TreeD Filaments all offer interesting metal-PLA composite filaments. These filaments, containing a significant percentage of metal powders, remain pliable enough to be printed at low temperatures (200 to 300 Celsius) on virtually any 3D printer. At the same time, they contain enough metal to make the final object look, feel, and even weigh like metal. Iron-based filaments even rust under certain conditions.

But you can go further. Typically, up to 50 percent metal powder is added to 3D printing filament. Dutch company Formfutura says they have achieved 85 percent metal powder with 15 percent PLA. These filaments are called MetalFil Ancient Bronze and Metalfil Classic Copper. They can be printed even at "moderate" temperatures from 190 to 200 degrees Celsius.

Metal 3D Printing Filament Spools, in this case from SteelFill and CopperFill colorFabb (Steel and Bronze), Ancient Bronze (Ancient Bronze) from Formfutura

Here are the key points about metal printing at home

  • Gets a unique metal surface and look
  • Ideal for jewelry, figurines, housewares, replicas
  • Durability
  • Objects are not flexible (structure dependent)
  • Objects do not dissolve
  • Not considered food safe
  • Typical print temperature: 195 - 220°C
  • Extremely low shrinkage on cooling
  • No table heating required
  • Printing complexity is high, requires fine tuning of nozzle temperature, feed rate, post-processing

Preparing your home printer for metal 3D printing

Since getting metal 3D prints is more difficult than usual, you may need to upgrade your 3D printer nozzle, especially if you are an entry-level printer. The metal filament wears it out quickly. There are hard-wearing hot-ends (like the E3D V6) that are themselves made of metal. They can withstand high temperatures and fit most printers. Be prepared for the fact that the nozzles will have to be changed frequently, because the metal filament is very abrasive.

You will also need to take care of the final finishing of the surface (cleaning, grinding, oiling, waxing or priming) so that the printed metal object shines as it should.

How much does metal filament for 3D printing cost?

And what about metal filament for 3D printing? - you ask. Here are a few examples:

  • ColorFabb's 750 gram Bronzefill spool is $56.36
  • ColorFabb 750g Copperfill Coil $56.36
  • Protopasta's Polishable Stainless Steel PLA Composite is $56 for 56 grams of
  • Protopasta's Rustable Magnetic Iron PLA Composite is $34.99 for 500 grams of

Industrial metal 3D printing

But what if you want a higher quality result or even full metal 3D printing? Should a real "metal" 3D printer be purchased for business needs? We wouldn't recommend it - unless you're going to be doing it every day. A professional metal 3D printer is expensive: EOS or Stratasys devices will cost you 100-500 thousand dollars. In addition, the costs will be even greater, since you will have to hire an operator, a worker to maintain the machine, as well as to finalize the printouts (polishing, for example). Just a note: In 2016, an affordable metal 3D printer didn't exist.

Lowering Metal 3D Printing Costs

In case you are not going to open a metal 3D printing business, but still need a professionally 3D printed metal part, it is better to contact the appropriate company that provides such services. 3D printing services like Shapeways, Sculpteo and iMaterialise offer direct metal printing.

They currently work with the following metal materials in 3D printing:

  • aluminum
  • steel
  • brass
  • copper
  • bronze
  • sterling silver
  • gold
  • platinum
  • titanium

If you are a jeweler, you can also order wax models for casting in precious metals.

If we talk about wax models, then in most cases they (with subsequent melting) are used when printing with metals (including gold and silver). Not all orders are carried out directly by these firms. They usually turn to other metal 3D printing companies to complete the order. However, the number of such services around the world is growing rapidly. In addition, metal 3D printing techniques are becoming more and more common in companies that offer such services.

The reason big companies love 3D printing so much is that it can be used to build fully automated lines that produce "topologically optimized" parts. This means that it is possible to fine-tune the raw materials and make the components thicker only if they must withstand heavy loads. In general, the mass of parts is significantly reduced, while their structural integrity is preserved. And this is not the only advantage of this technology. In some cases, the product turns out to be significantly cheaper and affordable for almost everyone.

Please note that metal 3D printing requires special CAD programs for modeling. It is worth paying attention to the recommendations of Shapeways - 3D printing metal guidelines. To delve further into the topic, check out Statasys’ information on related 3D printers and the nuances of metal 3D printing.

Here are some examples of Benchy test model prices for metal 3D printing:

  • Metal plastic: $22.44 (former alumide, PLA with aluminium)
  • Stainless steel: $83.75 (plated, polished)
  • Bronze: $299.91 (solid, polished)
  • Silver: $713.47 (solid, mirror polished)
  • Gold: $87.75 (gold plated, polished)
  • Gold: $12,540 (solid, 18K gold)
  • Platinum: $27,314 (solid, polished)

As you might expect, solid metal 3D printing prices are quite high.

Metallic 3D printing. Applications

GE LEAP aircraft engine parts 3D printed at Avio Aero (Photo: GE)

There are several industries already using 3D printers to make everyday objects - you may not even know that these objects are printed.

  • The most common case is surgical and dental implants, which are considered the best option for patients today. Reason: they can be tailored to individual needs.
  • Another industry is jewelry. Here, most manufacturers have abandoned resin 3D printing and wax casting, switching directly to metal 3D printing.
  • In addition, the aerospace industry is becoming more and more dependent on 3D printed metal objects. The Italian company Ge-AvioAero was the first to do all-metal 3D printing. It manufactures components for LEAP aircraft engines.
  • Another industry targeting metal 3D printing is the automotive industry. BMW, Audi, FCA are seriously considering this technology, not only for prototyping (3D printing has been used for this for quite some time), but also for making real parts.

Before metal 3D printing really takes off, however, there are some hurdles to overcome. And first of all, this is a high price, which cannot be made lower than during molding. Another problem is the low production speed.

Metal 3D printing.


Most metal 3D printing processes start with an “atomized” powder

You can talk a lot about “metal” 3D printers, but their main problems remain the same as any other 3D – printers: software and hardware limitations, material optimization and multimateriality. We won't talk too much about the software, we'll just say that most of the major specialized software companies, such as Autodesk, SolidWorks and solidThinking, try to emphasize as much as possible the fact that as a result of the 3D metal printing process, you can get any shape you want.

In general, printed metal parts can be as strong as parts made by traditional processes. Parts made using DMLS technology have mechanical properties equivalent to casting. In addition, the porosity of objects made on a good "metal" 3D printer can reach 99.5%. In fact, manufacturer Stratasys claims that 3D printed metal parts perform above industry standards when tested for density.

3D printed metal can have different resolutions. At the highest resolution, layer thickness is 0.0008 - 0.0012" and X/Y resolution is 0.012 - 0.016". The minimum hole diameter is 0.035 - 0.045". formed layer)

The metal 3D printing process used by most relevant large companies today is called Powder Bed Fusion. This name indicates that some source of energy (a laser or other energy beam) melts an "atomized" powder (i.e., a metal powder that is carefully ground into spherical particles), resulting in layers of a printed object.

There are eight major manufacturers of metal 3D printers in the world that already use this technology; while we are talking here, there are more and more such companies. Most of them are in Germany. Their technologies are called SLM (Selective Laser Melting - selective laser fusion) or DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering - direct metal laser sintering).

Metal 3D PROTEMITS No. 2:

binder Jetting (spraying the binder)

under 3DP-technology EXONE Metal objects are printed by binding of the powder in the mountain : ExOne)

Another professional approach that also uses a powder base is called Binder Jetting. In this case, the layers are formed by gluing metal particles together and then sintering (or fusing) them in a high-temperature furnace, just like it is done with ceramics.

Another option, which is similar to working with ceramics, is mixing metal powder into metal paste. A pneumatically extruded 3D printer (similar to a syringe bioprinter or an inexpensive food printer) forms 3D objects. When the required shape is reached, the object is sent to the furnace, i. e. in the mountains

This approach is used in the Mini Metal Maker, apparently the only inexpensive "metal" 3D printer.

Metal 3D printing process #3: 9Metal Deposition This is not entirely true. Of course, on some desktop device, simply fusing metal threads onto the base will not work. However, very large steel companies can do it. And they do. There are two options for working with "metal surfacing".

One is called DED (Directed Energy Deposition) or Laser Cladding. Here, a laser beam is used to melt the metal powder, which is slowly released and solidifies as a layer, and the powder is fed using a robotic arm.

Normally the whole process takes place in a closed chamber, but the MX3D project used conventional 3D printing techniques to build a full-size bridge. Another option for metal fusion is called EBAM (Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing - additive electron beam technology), which is essentially soldering, in which a very powerful electron beam is used to melt 3 mm titanium wire, and the molten metal forms very large finished structures. As for this technology, its details are known so far only to the military.

Metal 3D printing. Metals

3D Printing Metal #1: Titanium

Pure titanium (Ti64 or TiAl4V) is one of the most commonly used metals for 3D printing and is definitely one of the most versatile, strong and lightweight. Titanium is used both in the melting process in a preformed layer and in the process of spraying a binder and is used mainly in the medical industry (for the manufacture of personal prostheses), as well as in the aerospace industry, automotive and machine tools (for the manufacture of parts and prototypes). But there is one problem. Titanium is very reactive and explodes easily in powder form. Therefore, it is necessary that titanium 3D printing takes place in a vacuum or in an argon environment.

3D printing metal #2: Stainless steel

Stainless steel is one of the cheapest 3D printing metals. At the same time, it is very durable and can be used in a wide range of manufacturing and even artistic and design applications. The type of steel alloy used also contains cobalt and nickel, is very difficult to break, and has a very high elasticity. Stainless steel is used almost exclusively in industry.

3D Printing Metal #3: Inconel

Inconel is a superalloy manufactured by Special Metals Corporation, its registered trademark. The alloy consists mainly of nickel and chromium and is very heat resistant. Therefore, it is used in the oil, chemical and aerospace (for black boxes) industries.

3D Printing Metal #4: Aluminum

Due to its lightness and versatility, aluminum is very popular in 3D printing. Aluminum alloys are commonly used.

3D Printing Metal #5: Cobalt Chrome

gap). It is most commonly used in the manufacture of turbines, dental and orthopedic implants, where 3D printing has become the dominant technology.

3D printing metal #5. Copper and bronze

With some exceptions, copper and bronze are used in wax melting processes, rarely in layer melting. The fact is that these metals are not very suitable for industry, they are more often used in the manufacture of works of art and crafts. ColorFabb offers both metals as the basis for a special metal filament.

3D printing metal #6. Iron

Iron, incl. magnetic, also mainly used as an additive to PLA-based filaments, which are produced, for example, by ProtoPasta and TreeD.

3D printing metal #7. Gold, Silver and Other Precious Metals

Most preformed melt process companies can 3D print precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum. Here, along with the preservation of the aesthetic properties of materials, it is important to achieve optimization of work with expensive starting powder. Precious metal 3D printing is required for jewelry, medical applications and electronics.

Metal 3D printing. Printers

Do not hesitate - the purchase of a metal 3D printer will not pass without a trace on your budget. It will cost at least 100-250 thousand dollars. Here is a list of a variety of "metal" printers, some of which can be found in firms providing 3D printing services.

Metal 3D Printer #1:

Sciaky EBAM 300 - metal filament printing

If you need to print really large metal structures, Sciaky's EBAM technology is your best bet. By order, the device can be built in almost any size. This technique is used mainly in the aerospace industry and the military.

Sciaky's largest production printer is the EBAM 300. It prints objects in a volume of 5791 x 1219 x 1219 mm.

The company claims the EBAM 300 is also one of the fastest industrial 3D printers on the market. A three-meter-sized titanium part for an aircraft is printed on it in 48 hours, while the material consumption is about 7 kg per hour. In general, forged parts that usually take 6-12 months to complete can be made in 2 days with this 3D printer.

The metal layers are first cut and then ultrasonically welded. The largest Fabrisonic 7200 printer operates in a volume of 2 x 2 x 1.5 m. The metal powder 3D printer is the Concept Laser XLine 1000. It has a modeling volume of 630 x 400 x 500 mm and is the size of a house.

Its German company, one of the main suppliers of 3D printers for aerospace giants like Airbus, recently introduced a new machine, the Xline 2000.

This machine uses two lasers and has a working volume of 800 x 400 x 500 mm. Uses LaserCUSING laser technology (a variant of selective laser fusion) from Concept Laser, which allows you to print alloys of steel, aluminum, nickel, titanium, precious metals and even some pure substances (titanium and stainless steel).

Metallic 3D printing. Services

There are over 100 companies worldwide offering metal 3D printing services. We list the most popular services for consumer needs.

Metal 3D Printing Service #1: Shapeways

The world's most popular 3D printing service, Shapeways offers two types of services. As a consumer, you can choose from a wide range of professionally designed objects, customize them, and then have them printed to your specifications. Like other 3D printing services, Shapeways offers a platform for designers to sell and print their work. Shapeways is also a good place for rapid prototyping: customers benefit from industrial-grade printers (EOS, 3D Systems) and personal technical support.

3D printing metals: aluminium, brass, bronze, gold, platinum, precious metal plating, silver, steel. There are also wax molds for jewelry purposes.

Metal 3D Printing Service #2: Sculpteo

Like Shapeways and i.materialise, Sculpteo is an online 3D printing service that allows anyone to upload 3D models and send them to fabrication in a wide range of materials . Like its competitors, Sculpteo provides a platform for hobbyists and professionals to showcase and sell their designs. The stable of Sculpteo printers includes highly professional machines from 3D Systems, EOS, Stratasys and ZCorp. Extensive technical documentation will help identify design flaws and select the right material for the project.

Metals for 3D printing: alumide (plastic with aluminum particles), brass, silver.

Metal 3D Printing Service #3: iMaterialise

Materialise is a company that works with industrial customers to prototyp 3D printed products. For casual users and designers, Materialize offers an online 3D printing service called i.materialise. As with Shapeways, this service allows anyone to upload their 3D designs and print them out. Once an object has been uploaded and successfully printed, a designer can list it for sale either in the gallery of the i.materalise online store or by embedding some code into their site.

3D printing metals: alumide (plastic with aluminum powder), brass, bronze, copper, gold, silver, steel, titanium.

Metal 3D Printing Service #4: 3D Hubs

Through 3D Hubs, you can search for individuals and firms that offer 3D printing services in your area, upload STL files (which are immediately evaluated for defects ) and contact service providers directly to get the job done.

Learn more