3D Print – How To Price Your 3D Printing Project

Some engage to 3D printing for fun, others for educational purposes and some others for business. 3D printing goes beyond printing toys to play or printing additional cups for your collection. You can actually use 3D printers to earn. Some use their 3D printers to offer 3D printing services.

If you are into 3D printing but you can’t decide how to price your 3D printer here are some tips on how to do so. Read carefully to understand 3D printing costing.

IMG source: instructables.com
IMG source: instructables.com

Pricing your 3D printed objects depends on several factors, which include the following:

  • Technology – When 3D printing you have to consider the different types of technology to use because it has different approaches when it comes to materials used, steps involved in the processes and production speed. This could also refer to the types of 3D printers which are as follows:
    • Stereolithography (SLA) – This technology is usually used in prototyping because it doesn’t require too much time and the cost is cheaper compared to other means of prototyping. Printing using this technology depends on the size of your SLA 3D printers, small items can be printed within 6 to 8 hours while big objects with several meters in three dimensions may take days.
    • Digital Light Processing (DLP) – This technology produces a robust object with excellent resolution. In addition, it is better than SL because it uses fewer materials for a detailed production. In this way, you can save cost and produce lesser waste.
    • Fused deposition modeling (FDM) – This technology is usually used for new product development, model concept, prototyping and manufacturing development. These 3D printers are more affordable than other machines. In fact, you can find FDM 3D printers from $300 up.
    • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) – This technology doesn’t use any support structures unlike the first two technologies because the object being printed is surrounded by unsintered powder. This is also more versatile in processing materials because it can accommodate nylon, ceramics, glass, aluminum, steel, silver and more. However, this 3D printer is not for amateurs because it requires high-powered lasers and can be very expensive.
    • Selective laser melting (SLM) – This 3D printing technology is not popular for home use but is widely applied when 3D printing complex geometries and structures. This technology is used among aerospace and medical klonopin orthopedics manufacturers.
    • Electronic Beam Melting (EBM) – This technology uses electron beam as its power source but it is significantly similar to SLM. However, this process is slow and more expensive than SLM.
    • Laminated object manufacturing (LOM) – This 3D printing technology is not that popular but is one of the most affordable and fastest 3D printing method. It is also cheaper because its raw materials are very affordable. However, the post-processing of 3D printed parts might include additional steps for machining and drilling.
  • Materials Price – The most popular 3D printing materials are ABS and PLA. However, there are more materials out there. Speaking of materials, you might consider the following:
    • PLA – This is the cheapest material you can find. The results are not so polished, you just get what you paid for.
    • ABS – If you have a moderate budget for material, you can go for ABS. ABS is better and more reliable than PLA but is still at a low-cost range.
    • Vero – This material offers the highest quality parts with the best dimensional accuracy and overall polished look but more expensive than PLA and ABS.
IMG Source: 3dprint.com

Material price is the cost of the materials you use and is expressed in cm3

  • Size of the object – In general, the bigger the object the more expensive it is. However, there are different pricing algorithms on the market. This mean that with different 3D printing services, you could get different prices for the same 3D printed object.
  • Orientation of the object in the printer – You might think that placing an object either vertically or horizontally in a 3D printer won’t matter. However, it does. For example, printing a wine glass vertically is more costly than printing it horizontally because it will have to print more layers and the process will take longer.
  • Cost of finishing – In general, the bigger the object the more expensive it is. However, there are different pricing algorithms on the market. This mean that with different 3D printing services, you could get different prices for the same 3D printed object.
  • Machine Fee – Is the machine yours or are you paying for a service? Machine fee is also influenced by the hour rate, setup cost and total runtime of the machine. The machine rate is counted per cm3, this is based on the bounding box of the STL file.
  • Handle Fee – If you are sending the item to your customer, cleaning the print, wrapping it in a paper or box, and adding address label will be included in the labor cost.
IMG Source: morethancle.org
IMG Source: morethancle.org

Now that you are already aware of the factors that you need to consider when pricing your 3D printed object, it is time to calculate. Here’s a formula from a Reddit user that you can apply when calculating the price of your next 3D printing project:

Price = Cost(your time) + Print Time(electric_cost) + Filament Cost * Markup(profit) + Average Maintenance Cost Hours of Run Time Until Maintenance/ Hours of Run Time

For your convenience, you can also use 3D printer job cost calculator like this one. The calculator is very easy to use, you just have to fill the boxes that typically includes the type of filament, size of the filament, filament cost, the length of the filament, job time, cost per hour and markup. Then press the calculate button and it will give you the total filament cost, total time cost, and total job cost. Check out 3D printing pens which are less sophisticated than 3D Printers.

If you are into 3D printing for a long time and you have a website where you offer your 3D printing services, assist your customers with quotations by using Protocow’s STL harvester. This is a plugin for your website that automatically calculates quotations. In this way, customers can visit your site, check the quotation of their project without emailing the STL for you and having to wait for your reply. With this plugin, you will save time and avoid potential revenue loss because it offers instant quotation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, installation only takes a minute and it is very easy to use.

Pricing your 3D printed object is challenging at first but as you accept more and more projects, you will get used to it. Eventually, 3D print costing will not be as confusing and complicated as how you started with it. 3D printing is a fun activity and you will love it more when you are earning from it.