Is 3D Printing An Expensive Hobby? Things to Know

3D Printing

If you want to try on 3D printing, you maybe wonder: is it an expensive hobby? 3D printing is an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. You can keep your costs under $300 if you purchase a less expensive model and forgo a top-of-the-line 3D printer.

It is no secret that 3D printing is becoming more and more popular both at home and in business. That is not to say that there aren’t any barriers that might prevent someone who is interested in the subject from taking it up as a hobby. Price is by far the most important.

To give you a precise range of the best inexpensive options to start 3D printing, we’ll look at everything from printer selection to filaments to software, post-processing, and more.

Is 3D Printing Really Expensive?

3D printing is no longer an expensive or niche hobby. In the past ten years, 3D printing has become significantly more affordable thanks to new developments in additive manufacturing technology.

Once you have a 3D printer, the size of the models you are printing and how frequently you use it will have the biggest impact on the cost of 3D printing. Your filament costs will be higher if you consistently print large models as opposed to smaller, less frequent models.

You can actually separate the models, arrange them on the build plate, and then glue them together after printing larger 3D models, although a large 3D printer is ideal for this.

Particularly for character models and figurines, this is a fairly typical hobbyist practice with 3D printers.

The low-cost end of the printing technology spectrum is dominated by resin SLA printers and FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printers. Due to their relative affordability and simplicity, these printers are well-liked among beginners.

You can create some models of astonishingly high quality on a budget.

Even NASA has started using these printers for astronauts to build working models inside spacecraft. However, the quality that can be offered has a limit.

Upgrade your printer for better quality, or make sure your machine is properly calibrated to ensure smooth operation.

Read More: Is 3D Printing Hard?

Primary Factors to Determine the Total Cost of 3D Printing

Despite my claim that 3D printing is a cheap hobby, this may not be entirely accurate because of a number of variables. These will establish whether 3D printing is an expensive pastime. These elements include, among others, the price of a 3D printer, the price of filament, and the size of 3D prints.

Printer Cost

The machine itself is the expense that affects 3D printing as a hobby the most. Fortunately, there are many different 3D printers available in a range of prices.

You might only require a very basic 3D printer if you’re just starting out. Spending $200 or so on a small base model is probably in your future. However, these 3D printers are less feature-rich and frequently offer less assistance when you need it.

3D Printer

If you think you might need a little more support, and a little bit of a better printer, you should check out 3D printers in the $500 price range. You are less likely to run into any issues and they will print a little more consistently.

For more than $6000, you can get a 3D printer with all the bells and whistles, a sizable printing area, numerous tutorials, and a ton of customer support.

If you are just wanting to have a small 3D printing hobby, there is no reason to spend $6000 on a 3D printer right away. For what you’re trying to create, a $200–$500 printer will be more than adequate.

Also Read: Best 3D Printer under $500

Material Cost

The material cost is another expense to take into account. The material cost is affected by a number of factors, including the type of material you use, the size of the item, and the amount of infill you use.

The cheapest material you can buy for your 3D printer are thermoplastic filaments. PLA and ABS are the most widely used. An entire kilogram costs between $15 and $30. Another option is nylon, a more expensive material.

The wall thickness of the item you are trying to print is known as the infill. Printing a hollow object with 10% infill will use less material than printing a solid object with 100% infill.

A case to hold a deck of cards might cost $1, but a solid model of Mount Rushmore the size of a football might cost $100. It’s impossible to estimate the cost of something without seeing your 3D print design, but to give you an idea.


The cost of 3D printing will also depend on how much electricity is used by the printer. This largely depends on the kind of printer you purchased. Every 3D printer includes the amount of energy it uses per hour. You will only suffer a great loss by investing in an industrial 3D printer.

250 Watts or so are used by the Elegoo Neptune 3. This is a wise option for the house.

Your electricity bill will go up if you leave the 3D printer on after use. To lower your electricity bill and save money, it is always advisable to turn it off when not in use.

Related: How Much Electricity Does a 3D Printer Use?

3D Designs

Your 3D print files are another aspect of the costs that you must take into account. In order to make your own, you’ll need a 3D design program.

There are numerous software options available, with prices ranging from $10 per month for subscriptions to $500 for programs with full access.

There are a few free programs you can use, but they don’t have as many features as paid programs.

You can buy files to download instead of taking the time to learn how to use a 3D program. Depending on the complexity of the design, each file can cost anywhere between $1 and over $20.

If you’re printing just a few items to test your printer, this is the more economical method. Learning a new design skill might be more time-efficient if you want to create a variety of things.

3D Print Bed

Although it typically comes with the printer, this can be changed if it breaks. Adhesive tapes can be placed on your 3D print bed to extend its life. Because it costs so little to replace, most people prefer to do so. This is easily cleanable.

Maintenance of the Printer

Cleaning the bed of a 3D printer is one of the best maintenance methods. The 3D printer won’t become defective if it is maintained. As a result, you won’t need to spend money on new printer spare parts like the printer bed.

The 3D printer will maintain its effectiveness and use no more energy than it is supposed to with proper maintenance.

Also Read: How To Reduce Cost of 3D Printing?

Final Words: Is 3D Printing An Expensive Hobby?

I hope I have helped answer the question.

We now know that 3D printing is not an expensive hobby, but it also depends on other factors. You will enjoy picking up a new hobby that you can later turn into a business once you are able to recognize these factors. If you are interested in buying a 3D printer and confused about which one to choose, read our post on Best 3D Printer For Miniatures.