How Much Does 3D Printing Service Cost? – Prices Compared

This article will help you understand how much 3D printing service costs and what factors make the price
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Last updatedLast updated: December 17, 2021
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3D printing service cost is the first thing that crosses the mind of anyone looking to venture into 3D printing. There is no exact quotation for 3D printing services, and it is hard to get one without a 3D model. You can spend as little as 3 dollars or as much as thousands of dollars. Yes! Printing a 3D model can be costlier than an entry-level 3D printer.

3D printing costs are influenced by factors like the material volume, number of the model’s parts, dimension, and production if you plan to outsource. If you plan to print from home, then the main cost factors you should consider are materials, 3D printer costs, and electricity. Also, the costs vary from one technology to another. This article will help you understand how pricing works in 3D printing, whether you are looking for 3D printing services or considering a 3D printing business.

Factors Affecting the Cost of 3D Printing

3D printing costs are determined by a couple of factors. Most 3D printing services begin to calculate the cost of your 3D print the moment you upload the file. The costs increase every time you adjust the material, technology, quantity, finishing options, and production delay. Here are the factors to take into account when calculating the price of your 3D prints;

3D Printer Maintenance Costs

If you are looking to venture into the 3D printing business, you must first compare the cost of buying and running a 3D printer versus outsourcing to 3D printing services. A decent 3D printer can cost anything between 200 and 1500 dollars, depending on the printing technology it uses. 

Outsourcing is recommended if you only need occasional 3D printing or you want very large parts with non-standard materials. The only downsides of outsourcing are lead time and cost. It is expensive because of growing demand.

If you don’t have the patience to wait for printed parts for weeks on end, then you are better off with your own printer. If you are looking to do 3d printing for money, then buying a 3D printer is the way to go as well. You can start with an entry-level 3D printer then upgrade later. 

You can also go all out if you are sure about the venture. A solid 3D printer like the Dremel Digilab 3D45 would be a good place to start. The machine can print Nylon, ABS, PETG, PLA, and ECO, and it is compatible with PC, Mac, iPad, and Chromebook. It is packed with incredible features like an easily removable glass build plate and wi-fi connectivity for the best 3D printing experience.

The Anycubic Photon Mono is another fantastic option. It is an LCD 3D printer that offers a large creative space and an unmatched fast printing speed. Its smart top cover detection is what sets it apart. You can set it to stop printing immediately the cover is removed.

Let’s assume you get a 3D printer that costs 1000 dollars, and you plan to use it for 8 hours every day for a span of 2 years. Your printing costs without considering electricity, repair costs, and other costs will be:

8 x 365 x 2 = 5840 hours

$1000/ 5840 = $ 0.17/hr.

If your 3D model needs about 3 hours to 3D print, then you would spend 0.51 dollars on top of the electricity and 3D printer maintenance bills. The time taken to print, also known as production delay, affects the overall cost of 3D printing.

3D Model Volume and Complexity

This is the most crucial influencing factor in 3D print pricing. The first thing a customer care personnel at a 3D printing service outlet will ask you to do is send your model because without it is almost impossible to come up with an accurate quotation. The model has all the essential information needed to quote the print.

With the 3D model in hand, it is easier to calculate its volume together with its generated supports. The model’s volume lets you know the amount of material needed for the print. Therefore, a higher volume means higher costs. However, there are multiple ways of reducing your 3D printing costs, like hollowing your model. For instance, you can have a 5ft model with less volume than a 2ft volume if the 5ft volume is hollow and the latter is solid inside.

Model complexity also comes into play when calculating the cost of 3D printing because of the amount of work that goes into printing complex parts. No matter how sophisticated an algorithm is, complex part and architectural parts will always need some human guidance. Otherwise, you may end up wasting a lot of material.

Material Type

How Much Does 3D Printing Service Cost? - Prices Compared
When it comes to types of 3D printing materials, you are spoilt for choice. There are tons of materials Trusted Source What Materials Are Used for 3D Printing? | Sharretts Plating Company Wondering what materials to use for your 3D printing project? We explain the benefits of each of the materials that can be used in 3D printing, along with the best application for each material. Still not sure what materials would work best for your industry? Contact us today for more information! www.sharrettsplating.com on the market, but you have to factor in the cost when choosing one. Thermoplastics and resins are the most commonly used materials.

Thermoplastics are the most affordable and easily accessible printing materials hence their popularity among hobbyists. They include filaments like ABS and PLA. Although the filaments are incredibly affordable, getting the best quality prints from them is not easy, and you may have to spend hours on end post-processing to get the smoothest finishes. What’s more, 3D printing complex models is virtually impossible with these materials.

Resin is considered the best 3D printing material by many industry experts Trusted Source Resin or filament 3D printing: Which is best for you? | Windows Central When you are first trying to decide what you want out of 3D printing, the options can be daunting. We break down the two main types of 3D printers here so you can make an informed decision. www.windowscentral.com because of its versatility and ability to produce the best quality 3D prints regardless of complexity. The only issue with resin is that it doesn’t come cheap. For regular resin, you would have to part with up to 50 dollars per liter. Some even go for as high as 300 dollars a liter.

Post-Processing

3D printing isn’t just about dropping files and printing. For the best quality prints, there are a few final touches like cleaning, curing, and polishing that should be done. The amount of work put into finishing the prints depends on the print materials used. For instance, polishing filaments is much harder and more time-consuming compared to resin. You will spend a lot of time removing the supports and sanding, yet the quality still won’t be on par with resin.

Polishing resin is a tad easier, provided the pieces are cured. You can polish with a sandblaster or by hand. Another thing that could make polishing challenging is the design of the 3D model. Some models are so sophisticated that cleaning and polishing its generated supports needs a lot of patience and expertise.

Besides cleaning and polishing, there’s finishing. You may want a chrome or gold finishing on your model. Different 3D printing services have different finishes depending on the printing technology they are using.
How Much Does 3D Printing Service Cost? - Prices Compared

Profit Margin

If you are planning to start a 3D printing business, you must assess if it makes economic sense before going all out. According to experts, the profit margin of a 3D printing business can be anything between 50% and 90%, with material cost in consideration. Of course, it will reduce when you add labor and overhead costs.

If you are planning to outsource, you must consider the base price that is usually added if the printing cost is below a certain amount. It wouldn’t make economic sense to 3D print something that costs 5 dollars, and there’s some labor involved. Therefore most 3D printing service providers would require you to pay the base price or print in large quantities.

Labor

3D printing is nothing like the traditional manufacturing methods when it comes to workflows. Depending on the type of technology used, 3D printing is much easier and time saving, but it is still very labor-intensive. This is why labor has to be considered when calculating the overall costs. 

3D printing workflows vary by the process used. For instance, post-processing 3D models made from filaments is more labor-intensive compared to models made of resin. Cleaning, removing supports or excess material, and polishing will take longer for filament prints. However, there are solutions Trusted Source The Form 3 is a part of a 3D printing ecosystem that’s easy to learn and use and requires little intervention or maintenance. formlabs.com that make these tasks less tedious.

The type of 3D printer used also determines the amount of labor needed to 3D print. Professional 3D printers are usually optimized for ease of use, while DIY and hobbyist 3D printers like PLA and ABS 3D printers often need a little more tinkering to get the settings ready. Regular maintenance for the hobbyist printers also tends to involve time-consuming tasks that require a skilled operator.

3D Printing Service Price Comparison

Different 3D printing service providers charge differently because they don’t use the same printing materials, technology, and even 3D printers. Here are some of the most popular service providers and their rates. 

Craftcloud

If you are familiar with Google flights, Yahoo Shopping and Booking.com, then you have a rough idea of how Craftcloud works. It is a price comparison service that uses your location and project details to find you the best service providers with the best prices for your printing needs.

Craftcloud is associated with multiple 3D print service providers, and they normally have real-time offers from leading manufacturers on their websites. The organization guarantees the prices on their site come directly from their partners, and they have no hidden fees or additional 3D printing costs.

When you upload your 3D model on Craftcloud, you will get your quotation instantly. If you are not a designer and are unfamiliar with 3D printing costs, you can click on some of the products on the website to get a rough estimation of what you may need for your project. When you click on any product, Craftcloud gives you the option of seeing the materials and prices.

Let’s say you click on the Trilope pattern. You will be able to see the different price quotes for PLA, ABS, and Polycarbonate. You can compare the material prices and choose one that is within your budget. After choosing the material, you can go ahead to choose the finish and the color. Some finishes will cost you more than others, and some colors for certain materials like white for Polycarbonate will cost you nothing.
How Much Does 3D Printing Service Cost? - Prices Compared

3D Experience Marketplace Make

This is a website that offers on-demand manufacturing. It allows users to upload their files and choose from a wide variety of industrial grade materials. The site is managed by Dassault Systemes which is a French Software Company. 

3D experience marketplace make has a wide global network of manufacturers that can get your functional prototypes and parts printed. You are spoilt for choice with 200 qualified service providers and over 13,000 manufacturing machines. With integration in CATIA and Solidworks, you can buy parts from the manufacturers directly and even request quotations from up to 3 suppliers.

Besides 3D printing, you can enjoy other services like laser cutting, injection molding, and CNC machining. The website is very user friendly as it has just a few pages. Other than home, there’s get an instant quote, service providers, become a partner, and my requests.

When you click on ‘get an instant quote’, the website asks for your logins. The Service provider page has all the information about all the network that the company has created over the years. The service provider list is created according to tolerance and turnaround time. This is a unique feature that sets the website apart from the competition. The service providers with little tolerance and minimum turnaround is listed at the very top.

You can sort the service provider by price, then refine your search by looking at their capacity, location, quotation and certification. The website will require your login credentials when you dig for more information about the service provider. Let’s just say you don’t get the 3D printing cost easily like you would on Craftcloud.

Sculpteo

Sculpteo is a world-famous digital manufacturing company based in San Francisco and Paris. It was founded by Clement Moreau and Eric Carreu in 2009. It provides professional online 3D printing services and laser cutting for on-demand production of individual products, prototypes, and short-run manufacturing.

The company offers unlimited access to myriad materials, finishes, and techniques. They also offer superior optimization tools for 3D model files analyses and repair. You can count on the company’s turnaround and efficient worldwide delivery. They have factories in the US and Europe. 

The Sculpteo website has 3 web pages; services, learn and material guides. To 3D print, you click on the Services tab. You will see the option to upload your file. Before uploading your file, you must first create an account like with the other websites discussed above.

Sculpteo also offers the option of getting quotations instantly. Again, your logins will be required for you to access the information.
How Much Does 3D Printing Service Cost? - Prices Compared

3D Hubs

This is a website facilitated by local enthusiasts and professionals to provide a wide array of 3D printing manufacturing processes. It was founded in 2013 and has since produced over 4,000,000 parts. The company has its headquarters in Amsterdam. They recommend users the best production methods on a part by part basis then assign it to an appropriately located professional partner for quicker delivery.

The prices are primarily based on material types and location and they are usually updated on the website regularly. The turnaround times are also clearly specified on the website. 

The website has 4 pages; materials, resources, manufacturing capabilities and about. When you click on materials, you get the option of choosing from sheet metal materials, 3D printing materials, injection molding materials, and CNC machining materials.

Since you need 3D printing services, you click on 3D printing materials then choose from the options provided. You can choose plastics, metals, and others like Nylon, ABS, PLA, PC and aluminum. After choosing material, you get additional information about it like variables available. What’s more, you can order 3D printed parts.

When you click on order 3D printed parts, you get the option to upload your file. You then get to see the 3D printing costs the company is charging. The cost depends on the materials and technology to be used. Before you place your order, the parts’ quality details and the shipping date are shown to you.

Xometry

This 3D printing service provider offers custom manufacturing at your fingertips on their website. Their website is very straightforward to use. Beneath the ‘Custom Manufacturing at Fingertips’ title is a ‘get an instant quote’ option which leads you to a new webpage. 

On the webpage, you have the option of uploading your file in various formats including STL, STEP, STP, SAT, and IPT among others. You are also presented with the option to choose from the processes available with the website makers. By processes they mean 3D printing techniques like FDM 3D printing and SLA 3D printing.

You can also choose the material you want.

In a nutshell, Xometry brings together everyone who needs custom 3D print parts quickly. They also help workshops overwhelmed with unorganized inquiries that never lead to anything. Moreover, users can have their parts CNC machined, injection-molded, or wrought from sheet metal.

Jawstec

This is another fantastic 3D printing service providing company with an easy to use interface. Their website has 5 tabs; about which informs you about their 3D printing capabilities, 3D design service, shop, blog, and manufacturing.

When you click on the first tab, you will be able to see all the technologies the company works with. There are: additive manufacturing, SLA, Thermoplastic polyurethane, and propylene multi-jet fusion.

The other tabs are very straightforward. For 3D printing services, you click the 3D design service tab. If you want to buy materials or 3D printed parts you click on shop and so forth.
How Much Does 3D Printing Service Cost? - Prices Compared

3D Printing AU

This is one of those rare unpopular websites with hidden gems. There isn’t much information about the company except for what it does and its location. It is based in Australia and it has 8 tabs on its website. They offer 3D printing service prices, 3D scanning services and the option to buy 3D printers. 

The website claims to have a well-rounded additive manufacturing site with professional staff to print your 3D parts for you. They guarantee quick delivery owing to their trusted Toll Priority Courier. You can say goodbye to long waiting times whether you are in Australia or New Zealand.

Final Thoughts

3D printing service cost varies for multiple reasons. We have managed to cover some in great details. If you are a designer looking to print occasionally, you are better off with the 3D printing services bureaus. They have different prices and offers to suit various printing needs. You can check out either of the top-rated ones we have reviewed. On the other hand, if you are planning to start a 3D printing business then you best invest in the best 3D printer with a suitable technology. 

Before buying a printer, it is recommended that you calculate the printing cost per part and lead time then compare all the options available to see what makes sense for your business. Although it is a strenuous process, it is important. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of gathering information and creating an elaborate spreadsheet, you can easily use an interactive 3D printing cost calculator. The calculators are offered by 3D printer manufacturers like Formlabs.

References

1.
What Materials Are Used for 3D Printing? | Sharretts Plating Company
Wondering what materials to use for your 3D printing project? We explain the benefits of each of the materials that can be used in 3D printing, along with the best application for each material. Still not sure what materials would work best for your industry? Contact us today for more information!
2.
Resin or filament 3D printing: Which is best for you? | Windows Central
When you are first trying to decide what you want out of 3D printing, the options can be daunting. We break down the two main types of 3D printers here so you can make an informed decision.
3.
The Form 3 is a part of a 3D printing ecosystem that’s easy to learn and use and requires little intervention or maintenance.
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