I am new to additive manufacturing and seeking guidance on selecting the best printer for my needs. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Also, my apologies for the lengthy post…
Background: I work in industrial design, specializing in computer-related peripherals and office accessories. Currently, I outsource manufacturing to suppliers abroad, but I’m considering bringing a portion of production in-house using SLA printers. After analyzing costs, it seems that using a Formlabs Form 3+ printer could significantly reduce expenses. For example, CNC and injection molding requires costly molds, ranging from $1000 to $3000+ for more complex parts. Many of our products consist of smaller plastic pieces. Additionally, our production numbers are relatively low, not exceeding 250 units, making large-scale manufacturing impractical at this stage.
My plan is to purchase a Formlabs printer, wash & cure station, resin, and necessary accessories within a budget of $2500 - $5000. The Form 3+ complete package, priced at $4250, seems to fulfill most of my requirements. However, I have concerns about the cost of Formlabs’ resin. At a minimum of $150 per liter, I’m unsure of the resin’s yield in terms of units produced, considering the additional resin used for supports.
Ideally, I aim to produce at least 50 units per week, if not 100+. Imagine that the intended product for manufacturing is a partially hollow block measuring 120 * 35 * 20 mm (0.084 L) with a radius on the longer edge (think of a pill-shaped item with a flat top and bottom).
I have a few specific questions:
Should I purchase a Formlabs printer for my current manufacturing needs of 250 units or fewer?
Approximately how many units can be produced with one liter of resin? Assuming I need 150 units of the aforementioned hollow block, a rough estimate would suffice.
Does the Form 3+ complete package adequately meet my needs?
Would it be sensible to consider purchasing a cheaper second-hand Form 2 printer and allocate the saved money towards additional resin and accessories for increased production?
Apologies for the lengthy post; I’m new to this field and would greatly appreciate any input on my situation. Thank you for taking the time to read this.