German AM consultancy Ampower Insights published a white paper which gives a detailed calculation of production costs and introduces the ratio of cost per unit of volume for an easy comparison of technologies and materials. Today, the in-house production cost ranges between 0,86 €/cm³ for aluminum alloy AlSi10Mg to 3,20 €/cm³ for light-weight and medical grade titanium alloy Ti-6Al-4V. In the paper, the existing market of metal service bureaus is analyzed for a representative depiction of market prices.
Additive Manufacturing became a game changer in many industries. Especially for SMEs, however, the high part cost is still the main restriction for the further wide-spread adoption of this production technology. For Laser and Electron Beam Melting (LBM and EBM), a significant part of the (AM) manufacturing/ production costs results from high machine hourly rates of 40-50 €/h paired with relatively slow building speeds.
The AM capacity at suppliers currently consists of a total of approximately 120 machines installed in service bureaus in the selected study region Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. The majority of service bureaus is concentrated in Southern Germany. Market prices range between 3-10 €/cm³ for finished aluminum parts, representing a spread of 35-240% around the mean value. The price spread for titanium parts is significantly lower with market prices around 5-7 €/cm³. The surprisingly large spread in market prices persists even when larger lot sizes resembling a continuous serial production are requested. Comparing different materials,
Comparing different materials, aluminum offers the largest margins on the supplier market while stainless steel yields much lower returns. Ampower Insights closes with procurement guide lines and key factors for a Make or Buy decision.
The decision to Make or Buy generally depends on the number of parts printed per year. For aluminum a profitable in-house production starts at approximately 125 kg per year. Titanium is at 271 Kg per year and for stainless steel the break-even is reached at 420 kg per year. Therefore, even with in-house production, it might be beneficial to secure supply for low volume parts and materials.