Many 3D printing enthusiasts are interested in creating 3D prints for the purpose of selling, but aren’t too sure just how much they should charge for a fair price. I decided to write an article to help people figure out different ways to find the ideal way to charge for 3D prints.
To know how much to charge for 3D prints, it’s a good idea to look at how much similar 3D prints are selling for as a starting point. There are also many pricing calculators that help you determine your actual costs so you can fairly price your 3D prints to still make some profit. You can charge costs + a percentage.
This is the basic answer, but there are more details so keep on reading to learn how to charge for 3D prints properly.
How Much Should You Charge for 3D Prints?
Before you put a price on your 3D prints, the following are some of the factors that contribute to the price of your prints.
- Cost of your Printer
- Cost of the Material
- Cost of Power
- Manual Labor
- Miscellaneous Expenses
- Profit Margin
Let’s go through each of these factors to determine how to charge for 3D prints.
Cost of Printer
One of the factors to consider during printing is the cost of your 3D printer. Your printer has a useful life (usually in hours) and this depreciates as the printer is used.
For example, if your 3D printer has a useful life of 2,000hrs and it costs $230, its depreciation cost per hour for the printer would be $0.115. For a 4-hour print, the depreciation cost would be $0.115* 4, which equates to $0.46.
3D printers have a long life but they just need replacement parts every so often, e.g. hotend, belts. The frame and electronics mostly don’t need replacing.
Cost of the Material
Another factor to consider is the cost of the material (filament or resin). This plays a huge role in the cost of a model. The amount of filament (in grams) a model will take to complete is usually estimated in your slicer.
To estimate the cost of filament for a model, simply divide the cost of the filament by its weight in grams to get the cost of 1 gram of filament. Then multiply the cost of 1g of the filament by the estimated weight of the filament to get the total cost of the material.
On average, the cost of 1KG of PLA filament is about $20 and could be lesser if you buy in bulk. At $20 for 1KG, the cost per gram of filament equates to $0.02 per gram.
This means that if you want to print a model like a 3D Benchy that weighs 13g, the cost of that model in filament is $0.26.
For resin printers, you can also determine the amount of resin required for a print using your slicer software. They will usually have an estimate of how much resin a 3D print uses after slicing the model, but it’s less accurate due to being a liquid.
Cost of Power
Another thing to factor into the cost of your print is the cost of power in your area. First, you need to be aware of the electricity tariff in your area and the average power consumed by your printer.
For example, in Chicago, it costs $0.151 per KW/H of electricity. If the average power consumed by your printer is 250W (0.25KW) using a Wattmeter.
This means it would cost $0.151 * 0.25KW for one hour which is equivalent to $0.05. Then for a 10-hour print, it would cost $0.05 * 10, which is equivalent to $0.50.
The 3D printer does most of the work but you still need to include some manual labor for figuring out how much to charge for 3D prints. Some models simply need to be removed from the bed and are good to be packaged and delivered.
Other models can require some extra manual labor such as assembly, post-processing like sanding & painting, as well as other various things. It’s a good idea to factor in how much time it takes for you to handle a model from start to finish so you can include that in your costs.
For smaller scale operations, logistics aren’t too much of a cost to factor in since you don’t need a large storage space and transportation of the models are done using a local delivery service.
In other cases, you might need a small storage area if you don’t have the space, or you can hire someone to pick up your items and do deliveries for you depending on how much time you have.
Deliveries are becoming a lot more common so there should be some good ways to get your 3D prints transported at a reasonable price and fairly quickly.
Factor in your logistic costs with figuring out how much to charge for your 3D prints. Selling 3D prints on demand rather than storing them is a good way to make logistics easier.
It’s a good idea to design and print your 3D models in one piece to ensure there’s no need for assembly. You can also reduce the time it takes to sand the model, you can decide to use silk filament since layer lines don’t show up as much.
Taking these into account can help increase your profit margin or reduce the final cost of the model to ensure competitive pricing.
This is another important factor when pricing your prints. You want to account for any unforeseen expenses that may occur during or after printing the model. For many projects, it may be zero, but it is best to account for it, to prevent covering unplanned costs from your own pocket.
An example of miscellaneous expenses is the cost of a failed print. The cost of the filament required to replace a failed should be factored in the final cost of the model.
Another case of miscellaneous expenses may be the cost of return shipping fees. For example, a print may get damaged in transit before it gets to the client. To compensate the client, you may have to recall the print for inspection and then cover the cost of shipping.
Also, the client may choose to return the model if they are not satisfied with the print and you may have to cover the cost of shipping, depending on the terms of the sale.
The profit margin is down to the seller’s discretion. While you may be at liberty to determine the profit margin, you want to ensure that the final price of the model is not too far from the average cost of similar models. Except if you are offering something extra.
The profit margin is usually some sort of compensation for the time spent during the printing of the model.
You can check out this video from Martison Manufacturing for a more detailed explanation of the factors that contribute to the pricing of prints.
One user commented that when you pay for a service/product, you pay for the experiences behind it. Not the 10 minutes it takes to make/solve it, but the months/years it takes for that professional to get to that level of efficiency.
A key way to price your 3D prints is to look at similar models and see how much they are selling for. You can then make adjustments based on the quality of your model and whether you are providing more or less.
Another factor is how much the buyer values the product. For some unique items like a personalized gift, you can usually charge more because it’s not something they can get easily.
Another user stated that time, complexity, material usage, and post-processing times affect the price of his prints. He said the base price of the models he sells is $10 and that he’s had people buy models from him for as high as $100.
However, if the print is for a friend, he only charges for the cost of the material.
Before you price your prints, one question you need to ask yourself is if you want to make money or just cover your cost and time. This user stated that on average, he charges for the costs incurred during the prints plus 40%.
He charges $20 per hour if there is labor, but most times, he charges for only minutes.
He said he knows his customers and most of them are rarely willing to spend more than $20. However, he has printed a few custom Chess sets of about 40-50 hours and they sold for $125.
Another user shared his pricing method for his prints. He stated that he charges triple the printing material costs. He does not charge with time except if the print is over 24 hours. He also charges extra fees for post-processing such as sanding, support removal, etc.
Best 3D Printing Price Calculators
3D printing price calculators are programs that help to estimate the cost per unit of a print. They usually take into account various factors to help generate a fair price for each print.
Here are some of the best 3D printing price calculators:
The Omnicalculator is one of the calculators for estimating the price of prints. The Omnicalculator is a free online platform with several calculators for different use cases like finance, science, and 3D printing included.
The user interface is pretty basic and easy to use. You only need to input basic information like:
- Cost of Filament
- Length of Filament
- Cost of Labor
- Print Time
- Markup Percentage
Once you input these values, the final price is displayed at the bottom.
The MakerOS calculator is a popular calculator that people can use to estimate the cost of your prints.
The MakerOS calculator is pretty advanced as it requires an input variable for even the most negligible 3D printing parameter when calculating the price, and not just the conventional 3D printing parameters.
You are required to input certain information regarding the following:
- Fabricated Material
- Facility (Rent)
It can be used to estimate the cost of FDM prints, SLA, Polyjet, SLS, and 3D printing techniques. Once you are done printing, simply click on the button at the bottom of the calculator to show results.
You are asked to input your email, to get a verification code if you are just using it for the first time.
3DPrintWithUs has a free calculator that many people use to calculate how much to charge for 3D prints. This can be used to calculate the price of both FDM and SLA prints. It is pretty basic, as you only need to input the cost of basic parameters like the
- 3D Printer Cost
- Cost of Filament/Resin
- 3D Printer Useful Life
- Print Time + Costs like Electricity & Labor.
Another 3D print price calculator is the IC3DPrinters Calculator. This print calculator is also very basic with a user-friendly interface. The parameters required to estimate the price of your prints are pretty basic, some of which include:
- Filament Length
- Print Time
- Markup Percentage
Also, the added functionality of allowing users to include custom filament density is another great feature for better price estimates.
Overall the IC3D Printers calculator is a pretty standard calculator that should be sufficient for everyone, especially small-scale sellers.
This 3D Print Calculator from Prusa is another free calculator for estimating the price of prints. While it is a pretty detailed calculator that requires certain advanced parameters, its user interface is very friendly. It can only be used to estimate the price of FDM prints.
It also grants users the choice of making certain parameters optional. It also allows you to input the G-Code of STL which automatically inputs the print time and filament weight. Other key information required includes:
- Filament Type
- Filament Weight
- Filament Cost
- Spool Weight