Cost comparison Valve Block

This case study breaks down the production cost of a valve block for Metal Binder Jetting (MBJ), Powder Bed Fusion and Metal FDM. Due to dimensions of 30 x 60 x 15 mm and a total part volume of 7,5 cm³, it is not feasible for DED technologies. The calculation is made for Stainless Steel 17-4PH, which is available for all technologies. The calculation is made for 100 parts, with a comparison of 10 parts and 1.000 parts at the end. 

The focus in this section lies exclusively on the cost estimation. The fact that the achievable part quality varies between the technologies must be kept in mind. 

Cost per part (EUR and %)

Binder Jetting is the most cost-effective technology for producing this part for a series of 100 parts. The main difference results from low process-costs of 5,40 EUR. These low costs can be achieved by producing over 300 parts in less than 15 hours on a medium-sized system. 

Laser and Electron Powder Bed Fusion have similar cost per part with slight cost advantages for LPBF. The thin walls make the part challenging for EPBF.

Metal FDM results in the highest cost for this part. This is mainly driven by the long printing time in over 5 hours per part. 

The corresponding relative breakdown of costs shows that both for both Powder Bed Fusion technologies, the build process makes up the majority of the costs with 59%

For Metal Binder Jetting, the low cost for printing result in post processing cost of 59%, which is mainly driven by sintering cost. 

For Metal Extrusion, 75% of all cost result from the printing process. This is due to the long production time that can be seen in the next paragraph.   

Production time

The chart on the left breaks down the production time in days for the entire batch of 100 parts into the following sub-processes:

  • Process: includes data preparation, machine setup and printing
  • Post processing: includes support removal, debind and sintering and other operations

Metal Binder Jetting shows the lowest printing time with ~15 hours for all parts, compared to ~2,5 days for PBF and ~23 days for Metal Extrusion. Taking into account post processing, Binder Jetting still keeps the lowest production time of 2,71 days compared to 3,16 days for E-PBF, 4,32 days for L-PBF and 26,59 days for Metal Extrusion.

Cost per cm³

The right graph shows the corresponding cost per cm³ for quantities ranging from 10 to 1000 parts. While Metal Binder Jetting is the most cost effective technology for the 100 parts discussed in this scenario, lower quantities favour other technologies.

When printing a single part, Metal FDM is the cheapest technology since it is not a batch-wise process. For quantities below ~20 pieces, Laser Powder Bed Fusion remains the cheapest option. As soon as the quantity results in a reasonable nesting density of the build job, Metal Binder Jetting remains the cheapest technology.

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