Many companies have been evaluating the feasibility and gain of using Additive Manufacturing in their own business. One of the main advantages of this technology is the possibility to produce a shape with complex geometry in a reduced time. Therefore, Additive Manufacturing is often applied in rapid prototyping, which is an essential activity for the evaluation and testing of the design concepts. Even if the advantages and drawbacks of 3D printing are well known in the literature, there is still a lack of tools and methodologies to support a rapid techno-economic analysis for selecting the key manufacturing process between traditional machining tools and 3D printing. A case study on a 3D part of moderate complexity, a gas burner head, fabricated by additive manufacturing, using selective laser melting, has been described in this paper. This test case is focused on the context of rapid prototyping. The 3D part is a gas burner head which has to be printed for testing activity. The analysis focuses on the cost, time, and quality of the built part. An analytical approach has been proposed to calculate the cost of the 3D printing process. The analytical cost is related to the results of the numerical simulations to support the techno-economic analysis. The paper shows a method to compare additive manufacturing and traditional machining processes in rapid prototyping. However, the paper also shows a simulation activity to analyze with more details the 3D printing process in terms of part orientation and deformation of the build.
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