Chances are, when you plug in your 3D printer, you don’t even think about the power its consuming and how much that might be costing you. I sure didn’t. That’s why I decided to find out for myself.
I tested out three different 3D printers to compare the energy they used. The three that I tested are: Flashforge Creator Pro, Monoprice Mini Delta, and Prusa I3 Mk3.
While most 3D printers don’t use much energy, some are more efficient than others. As expected, the Mini Delta used just .07kWh. It was followed by the Mk3 at .20kWh and the Creator Pro at .24kWh. Ultimately, electrical costs didn’t seem to be a major factor even for printing a large part.
The results I got surprised me. For anyone new to 3D printing or an experienced hobbyist like myself, knowing how much energy your machine uses is both interesting and important. Let’s dive into some results:
How I Measured Energy Use
To keep things fair, I measured the energy use of each printer with the Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. This nifty tool plugs right into your outlet and then you plug your electronics into it.
Over time it shows you just how much energy your device, or in this case your 3D printer, is using. It helps you calculate your total energy usage for a certain period of time, the average, and with that info we can determine the cost of that electricity.
All of the measurements were also taken on the same day in room that was kept at a consistent 68F (20C). I measured each of the printer’s electricity usage while it was idle with nothing heating and while it was printing.
While it was printing, I got the average amount of watts that it was using as well as the number of kilowatt hours (kWh) to figure out the total amount of electricity used for an hour of printing.
Monoprice Mini Delta
The Mini Delta is an awesome little printer. It serves many as an affordable entry-level 3D printer. It’s very compact, features a self-leveling bed, and is an open printer.
The nozzle and bed heat to different temperatures so you can print with a variety of different materials. For such a small printer, the Mini Delta is no joke.
Neither is its efficiency. While idle, the Mini Delta uses just 3W of electricity. To preheat the bed, it used just 35W and to preheat the nozzle it used 45W.
This was by far (by over 200W) the least power consumption while preheating of any of the printers I tested. When printing, the usage increases to just 60W. For an hour of printing, the Mini Delta uses a minimal .07kWh.
This is the most efficient printer of the three by far. The trade off is that you can only print very small parts on it since the printer itself is so small.
Flashforge Creator Pro
The Creator Pro is arguably the oldest of the three printers tested. It features a fully enclosed print chamber and has the second biggest print volume of the bunch.
I figured that the enclosure meant that this printer would use less energy since it retains heat. I was surprised by what the Kill A Watt showed.
When idling, the Creator Pro used 13W. To preheat the bed only, it used a whopping 300W, and it took 280W to preheat the nozzle.
Things did calm down a little during printing (likely due in part to the enclosure) as the Creator Pro pulled 250W. For an hour of print time, this amounted to .24kWh of electricity.
Contrary to my assumption, the enclosure around the print bed actually didn’t reduce the electricity used. Instead, it seems that having the enclosure required more power to get the printer up to temperature and keep it there versus an open set-up. Or, perhaps it isn’t the enclosure but the different style build platform of the Creator Pro that demanded more energy.
Prusa I3 Mk3
The I3 Mk3 is an icon in the world of 3D printing. It is both highly customizable and a very well-rounded 3D printer. It features an open print bed and modular components that you can print upgraded versions of to make your printer better. From a power standpoint, it was pretty similar to the Creator Pro.
While idle, the I3 Mk3 used 8W of power. To preheat the bed, it used 250W and to preheat the nozzle it used 220W. Again, the consumption dropped a bit when printing began and the I3 Mk3 used 200W. Over an hour it pulled .20kWh.
How Much Does 3D Printing Power Cost?
Based on the results from the test, I was then able to calculate an estimate of how much it costs to power each 3D printer for an hour. According to Chooseenergy the average cost of electricity in the United States is around $0.12 per kWh. This number multiplied by the kWh that each printer’s hourly usage gives us an estimate of how much it costs to 3D print.
This means that the Mini Delta would cost you about 1 cent per hour. The I3 Mk3 comes in second at just 2.5 cents per hour while the Creator Pro costs around 3 cents per hour.
Ultimately, the electrical costs for running your 3D printer—regardless of what model you have—are nominal. Even to print a part that takes 48 hours on the Creator Pro, it would only cost around $1.44.
What’s The Cost?
Since electrical costs don’t factor much into how much you’ll spend on your 3D printing, what does? Actually, it’s the material you choose to print with, whether that is PLA, ABS, or something more exotic, as well as the infill settings on your prints that play a more significant role.
To know more about how these factors influence your expenses, keep reading our blog for more tips, tricks, and information about the world of 3D printing.