It is very crucial to calculate the cost of printing in the 3D printing industry. These costs depend on a range of different factors to help put together a competitive price so you make a profit out of it.
It is not easy to get the exact amount you should charge for 3D printing. But on average 3D printing could cost 3USD to a thousand dollars. However, you can use a 3D printing calculator to determine how much to charge. (Source)
In this article, you will understand the factors that influence the cost of 3D print such as the printing material, the print time, the 3D technology used, the size of the 3d model to be printed, and so on. Understanding this will help you put a good price on your 3D print.
What factors determine the cost of a 3D print?
3D printing technology can be a costly investment. However, it can pay for itself over time due to reduced production costs. In this article, we are going to shed more light on factors that determine the cost of a 3D print. (Source)
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- Post-Processing (Manual Labor)
Each 3D printer is expected to require at least some manual labor(post-processing) to prepare it ready for a customer. This manual labor cost includes the common post-processing methods. Additionally, there is the packing of the parts and sending them to customers, which requires manual labor. All these come with a cost.
- Additional Profit Percentage
In calculating your 3D print price, you should add a profit percentage to your material manual labor, print time, and cost of material combined. For instance, if the combined cost of material, manual labor, and print time is $30, and you have set up a 10% markup percentage, then the accumulated print price would be $33.
- Advanced Parameters
The printer’s failure rate and cost of electricity are the advanced parameters that will make your 3D print price even more accurate.
- Printing technologies
The type of printing technology deployed will greatly influence the 3D printing cost. There are three key printing technologies: SLS (Selective Laser Sintering), FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), and SLA (Stereolithography). FDM is the cheapest technology, while SLS is the most expensive.
You can get an affordable FDM printer machine for approximately €100, while an SLS printer costs approximately ten times more.
- Size of an object
The size of an object seems obvious but worth highlighting. The size of the printing object influences the amount of filament the print will require. The bigger your print, the more filament you will need and the higher the price you will pay.
On top of the size of the object, you also need to determine your print’s infill density. 3D prints are usually not solid with 100% plastic infill. The common infill density rate for 3D prints is 20%. However, if you want to produce heavier and stronger, you will have to increase the infill density, which will increase the price in turn.
Reducing the infill reduces the cost of production too. Also, deploying break-away support will increase the price depending on the amount of support you use.
- Brand and type of filament
Different filament brands attract different prices, depending on the quality of your final product. For instance, a spool of €10 per kilogram may have a final smooth finish worth €40 depending on the type of filament used. When considering a 3D print, the quality of your final product should be a more significant factor to consider than the price of the filament.
Also, some materials are more costly compared to others. If you are looking for more sturdy or complicated materials, then the final product will be more costly. Modern metal-infilled filaments may cost several hundreds of euros per spool of 1 to 2 Kilograms. (Source)
The time factor is very crucial when calculating electricity consumption and time spent printing. A 3D printer under normal operations has the same amount of power consumption as a working fridge. It may take several days or even weeks to complete printing a big project.
If the printing process is completed when you are not around to shut it down, the 3D printer will remain in idle mode while still consuming power. However, modern 3D printers today have an auto shut down functionality that helps preserve energy and cut down the cost of production.
- Layer thickness
Though the layer thickness of a 3D print does not influence the amount of filament needed per se, it affects the printing time, and subsequently, the cost of electricity used.
- Price of a 3D printer
Any business person will always want to track the business’s success and calculate ROI (Return on Investment). In this regard, you will also have to include the cost of purchasing a 3D printer and its efficiency. Low-quality cheaper 3D printers may require frequent replacement, while good-quality, most expensive 3D printers will last longer.
Therefore, low upfront costs may be expensive in the long run due to replacements and maintenance cost factors.
How much does 3D printing cost per hour?
The cost of 3D printing per hour depends on the filament material, delivery time, and model morphology. A single 3D printed part is approximated to cost anywhere ranging from 3$ to thousand of dollars.
A 3D printer may cost ranging from $150 for a cheap MSLA or FDM printer to almost 1 million dollars for a professional top metal 3D printer. In addition to the once-off cost of purchase, it requires other operational costs such as cost of electricity, maintenance cost among other costs.
In the current market, consider that you cannot make sense of a 3D printer if you use it for less than 8 hours per day for 250 working days and claim that you are still in business. If you are in the business of making money, it is advisable and much cheaper to outsource your printing parts to an external printing service.
List of 3D printing cost calculators
If you are printing your projects either at home or on a business premise, there are 3D printing calculators that you can use at your convenience to help you calculate how much the 3D print project will approximately cost you.
Some important 3D printing cost calculators recommended for use include:
- Omni 3D Printing Calculator
- 3D Printing Pro’s Cost Calculator
- IC 3D Printer’s Cost Calculator
Note that these 3D printing cost calculators will ask you for the following information to enable them to carry out accurate 3D printing cost calculations:
- How many grams per roll?
- Electricity cost
- Filament cost per roll
- Printing hours
- Printer wear cost, etc.
Can you make a profit with a 3D printer?
Yes, you can make money with 3D printing. there are different ways you could go about this and these include:
- Selling 3D printing online courses
- Making video content about 3D printing on youtube
- Creating useful 3D prints that could be sold
- Offering 3D printing training services
- Renting out your 3D printer to others for a fee.
You could make a good amount of money here but it does take a lot of hard work and time. if you are ready to be dedicated to building a 3D printing business then you should expect to make a good profit from it. (Source)
From this article, you must be well-equipped with information that can help you make an informed decision whether to hire a 3D printing service or buy a 3D printer for use at home. There is a vast range of factors that influence the cost of a 3D print.
In case you are a 3D printing hobbyist fascinated by 3D printing, and you are printing just for fun. You can resolve to have a printer installed at your home.
In case you are a 3D printing professional, and you need 3D functional parts in a few days printed with different material without defects, prepare to invest in a more convenient 3D printer that will deliver quality 3D prints for your clients.
Do you have any queries about how much to charge for 3D printing? Worry not! At 3D Print Schooling, we shall help you learn more about 3D printing technology.