Metal 3D printing services are generally fairly friendly and knowledgeable and are happy to give you quotes for your printed parts all day long.
But it’s usually not an automated process and the company will have to get an engineer to sit down and do a few techno-economic calculations to give you an estimate of your job.
If you’re doing multiple iterations then it can be a little frustrating for you, as a customer, and probably them as a service provider.
Thankfully, you can do that now with a free AM costing tool from Nordic engineering company Etteplan.
And you don’t even have to download anything. It’s browser based.
The web app is named AMOTool (pronounced as AMMO-tool), and was initially developed in-house to assist the Etteplan engineers with their own costing.
Etteplan realised the utility of their development and decided to release it to the world, because according to the AMOTool website, costing for LPBF processes can be a bit of a dark art without access to the specific LPBF software. Well, now you don’t need that software, because the AMOTool has been validated against dozens of use cases within Etteplan and they are confident that their cost estimates are reliable, risk free and robust. Cool!
The video below from Etteplan shows a lot of information about the online app.
What risk is there with costing an AM part, you may ask? Well, asides from annoying the company engineers with your constant questions, there is the risk of IP getting into the wrong hands, which may be of concern to some industries who may be wary of uploading CAD data to the web. The solution?
There is no CAD data involved. Yes, you do not need to upload a single cubic millimeter of CAD geometry with this application, and Etteplan says this is what differentiates them from competing online costing services. You simply take the height and volume of the item to be printed, and enter that into the tool. Then it does its magic and you get a bunch of cost data.
Given that “complexity is free” in AM (debatable), it’s not too hard to see how the cost could be calculated this way, sans geometry. The volume will tell you how much powder is needed, the height will tell you how many layers, and anything else can be inferred from that.
And the tool doesn’t merely provide a cost. It can show optimum placement of materials, whether it’s more cost effective to print multiple parts on one bed, and even the best orientation.
So there you go. No more bothering engineers asking for cost recalculations after every design iteration. You can upload your parts to the tool as they evolve and see how you can optimize the cost of your parts as you design.
Simply sign up for free, plug in your numbers and give it a try. Happy costing!