3D Printing Price - Anything you need to know about it

Written by Abigail    2022-10-10

When we talk about 3D printing, the first thing that comes to our mind is whether it is expensive or not. So we need to know what steps are needed to complete a 3D printed work and how much it costs. Then we learned how to calculate the price of 3D printing. And we will introduce more information about 3D printing for you.

Part 1. Calculation of 3D printing price

If you have designed your drawings and then are looking for a company that offers 3D printing services for printing, then calculating the price becomes easy.

3D printing processing samples is mainly through the calculation of 3D model weight to calculate the price. The 3D software lets you see the model's volume and weight. According to this parameter, you can directly quote. But usually, the company that provides the printing will set a starting price. If your model is small or the number of models is small, the printing price is calculated according to the starting price. Sometimes the processing of the model is hollow parts of these models in 3D printing require more waste materials (support), then need a manual quote by an account manager.

1.HollowParts (Special-ShapedParts): when printing, hollow places need to add support to the print. Support will not lead to model deformation. At the same time, the hollow parts of the volume are relatively large when printing occupies a larger area of the printer. 3D printing company's automatic quotation system does not include the weight of the support, so this model quote needs a manual quote.

2.LargeParts: the 3D printer is fixed size. Generally, a 3D printing machine will combine many models to print. Because the volume pieces account for a larger volume when printing, there is no way to put other models together to print, increasing the time cost of printing, so it may also cause the price increase.

3.SinglePieceLessThan 4g: 3D printing company will print more than one piece when printing this type of model to reduce the error rate. At the same time, less than 4g of the model post-processing time is longer, and labor costs are higher.

4.TransparentParts: fully transparent parts need to be polished later in the model after the transparent effect is better. Simple models are easy to polish, while models with complex structures are more difficult to polish, which takes more time and increases labor costs. An online quotation cannot calculate the labor cost for the structure of the model. Therefore, when the model is complicated, the quotation will be combined with an offline labor quotation.

If you own a 3D printer for printing and you want to print models by yourself, the price of which is the cost price. The price of 3D printing includes the cost of electricity, 3D printer fees, and 3D printing materials. This price will need to be calculated according to the individual's situation. Although you 3D print models by yourself, you can save the labor cost, the price may not be lower than that of 3D printing companies because 3D printing companies have a scale effect. They can lower the cost when there are many models to print.


3d printing vase

Part 2. Online 3D Printing Services

The advantage of 3d printing is that it can provide small batches and a wide variety of prototypes, and it can also help all kinds of enthusiasts to print their artworks. And with the development of this technology, the cost of 3d printing is gradually decreasing, and many 3d printing companies provide professional services. Not only can it help you check whether the drawings can be printed can also achieve real-time quotes online, and later there will be a dedicated account manager to help you solve problems.


Part 3. Factors that Affect the Price of 3D Printing

The factors that affect the price of 3D printing are divided into two main areas: the cost of materials, printer purchase, and operating costs. First of all, there are a variety of materials available for printing, and they vary in price according to the nature and characteristics of the material.

Choosing the right printing material will determine which 3D printing process to use. This is because different processes are compatible with different materials. Usually, 3D printed metals are much more expensive than plastics. 3D printed composites are usually more expensive than metals.

(1) Plastics

3D printing plastics fall into two categories - thermoplastics and thermosets. Thermoplastics, as the name implies, react to heat and can melt, making them the most common extruded material. Thermoset polymer resins are cured by UV light and are best suited for prototyping applications.

(2) Metals

Stainless steel and aluminum are the most common metals for 3D printing, but titanium and copper alloys are used for special applications. Laser melting, laser sintering, and binder jetting are all processes suitable for 3D printing metallic materials.

(3) Composite Materials

Composites such as carbon fiber, Kevlar synthetic fiber, and glass fiber are at the forefront of 3D printing innovation. They have similar strength properties to aluminum, improving the strength-to-weight ratio. The cost of composite materials maybe 8-12 times the cost of plastic materials and 2-5 times the cost of metal materials.

Composite 3D printing materials are common in specific industries heavy on costs, such as aerospace, medical, alternative energy, and high-performance automotive.

The main factor influencing the purchase and operating costs of the printer is the price of the printer itself. The following are three main factors that affect the price of a 3D printer.

1. 3D printer printing size and accuracy,3D printer equipment size is large. The size of the printed products will also be large, so the cost will be high, and printing accuracy is the performance of the machine's internal configuration and performance stability, so the larger the size, the higher accuracy of the print.

2. The more complex molding technology, the higher the price: 3D printing by type into FDM (fused deposition technology), SLA (light curing technology), and its SLS (laser sintering technology), and so on.

3. The more the number of nozzles, the higher the price: general ordinary 3D printer, there are up to two nozzles. Mainly depends on the degree of refinement of the process of production.


3d printing phone holder

Part 4. How to reduce the cost of 3D printing

1. Reduce support structure to reduce costs. You can save material printing costs by eliminating or reducing the support structure. Similar to reducing fill percentage, it can help you save printing time and material usage.

2. The solid 3D model is hollow to reduce costs. If you do not print solid, the model should control the thickness of the thin degree. The value can be between 1mm to 3mm, controlling the degree of hollow to reduce the use of materials.

3. The parts and non-printing parts are mixed. 3D printing only needs to print the entire model. Without separate parts printing, you can complete the need to print the model through 3D printing technology and can be connected to the parts combined with printing, which will help to reduce the cost of 3D printing.

4. Choose relatively cheap post-processing. Usually, the price of printing materials is fixed, while the price of post-processing varies depending on the process and the difficulty. Under the premise of ensuring the performance of the parts, choosing relatively easy post-processing materials and post-processing processes can reduce some of the costs.

5.Optimize the design drawings to reduce rework. When using 3D printing technology, the design ideas and considerations are different from the design when using traditional manufacturing techniques. For example, the design needs to pay attention to the minimum wall thickness of the part. During the design process, the designer can check whether there is a wall thickness structure in the part that the printer cannot complete by cross-sectioning, thus reducing the printing failure caused by too small a wall thickness.

Noteworthy, some 3D printing service providers have introduced convenient software to help designers determine whether a CAD model can be 3D printed smoothly. For example, 3D Tools from Shapeways, an online 3D printing provider, can fix problems with CAD models online, eliminating the need for designers to go back to the CAD software to make changes and then re-upload the files to Shapeways. Such gadgets also play a role in reducing 3D printing costs and increasing efficiency.

6.With professional 3D printing service providers, large 3d printing companies have the technology and knowledge to help users reduce the cost of printing. If the user requires 3D printing products but is completely unfamiliar with the technology, then compared to learning from scratch, choosing to cooperate with professional 3D printing service providers is relatively efficient. In addition to better understanding the 3D printing application of your product and selecting the right materials and processes, a 3D printing service provider can help you shorten your product development time.

Part 5. The Advantages of 3D Printing

3D printing creates parts primarily by building objects one layer at a time. 3D printing technology offers many advantages over traditional manufacturing techniques such as CNC machining.

Increased manufacturing speed

One of the main advantages of 3D printing is the speed at which parts can be produced more efficiently than traditional manufacturing methods. Models with the appearance of complex designs can be exported from the software and produced using a 3D printer in a matter of hours. This advantage allows design ideas to be verified and iterated upon quickly.

Whereas in the past, it could take days or even weeks to create a prototype through traditional machining methods, 3D printing will get the model to the designer in a matter of hours. While more industrial 3D printing machines take longer to print and post-process parts, producing final functional parts in small to medium batches offers huge time-saving advantages over traditional manufacturing techniques.

One-piece manufacturing molding

Build in one step with a 3D printer and without the intervention of the machine operator during the build phase. Once the CAD design is completed, it can be uploaded to the machine and printed in one step in a matter of hours.

The ability to produce parts in one piece greatly reduces the reliance on different manufacturing processes (machining, welding, painting) and allows designers to better control the quality of the final product.

Cost reduction

Manufacturing costs can be divided into machine operating costs, material costs, and labor costs. And labor costs one of the main advantages of 3D printing is the lower labor costs. Aside from post-processing, most 3D printers require only one or two operators. The machine then follows a fully automated process to produce the part. Compared to traditional manufacturing, which typically requires skilled machinists and operators, the labor cost of 3D printers is virtually zero.

The cost of 3D printing in small quantities is extremely competitive compared to traditional manufacturing processes. Producing verified shapes and assembly prototypes is much cheaper than alternative manufacturing methods (e.g., injection molding). It is often competitive in the manufacture of one-off functional parts. As production volumes increase, traditional manufacturing techniques become more cost-effective, so 3D printing becomes an important complement to traditional manufacturing.

Increased design freedom

Traditional manufacturing methods have high limitations on what can be manufactured. Design requirements such as angles for die pulling, undercuts, and tool entry are not suitable.

For 3D printing, there may be some limitations on the smallest dimensional features that can be accurately printed and defined. Still, for the most part, the main limitations revolve around optimizing the print orientation to reduce support dependencies and the likelihood of print failure. This gives designers a great deal of design freedom and allows for easily creating very complex geometries.


Not only does 3D printing offer greater design freedom defined, but it also allows for fully customizable designs. Since current 3D printing technology can only create a small number of parts at a time, it is well suited for small customization batches. The medical and dental industries have embraced the customization concept for producing custom prosthetics, implants, and dental aids, among others. From tailor-made premium sports gear that perfectly fits athletes to custom sunglasses and fashion accessories, defined 3D printing can cost-effectively produce custom parts in a single run.


Traditional manufacturing methods (such as CNC milling or turning) remove excess material from the initial material defined, resulting in a large amount of scrap. 3D printing, on the other hand, typically uses only the necessary amount of material needed to manufacture the part. Most of the raw materials used in the process can be recycled and reused in multiple projects. So the 3D printing process generates little to no waste.


3d printing stuff

Part 6. What can we do with 3D Printer?

For architects, compared to the traditional model, 3D printers can print architectural models not only reduce the time and cost by a large margin but also print materials that are environmentally friendly and beautifully manufactured to meet the needs of the actual designer.

For example, an automotive designer, for the exterior or interior of a car, draws the parts you need in 3D software early and then converts them into code using slicing software. The SD card is inserted into the 3D printer, and the print is ready. The printed part model gives the designer a more intuitive experience.

3D printing in the film and animation industry is also useful. 3D printing can reduce the manufacturing process, save a lot of time for the crew, and it is very convenient to print out some personalized equipment. In addition, complexity is not limited, which can greatly enhance the visual effect and texture of the film and television drama.

For example, in the smart home industry, designers do not need to worry about the cost and then use 3D printing to create various forms and functions of the concept model to brainstorm and accelerate the final design formation fully. 3D printing can optimize the development process of home products, solve and improve the entire product development process and efficiency, to change the design concept of home design.

Each prototype needs to be re-molded in the traditional method, which is very expensive. A 3D printer can print various models, which greatly shortens the time of making models. The designers can also 3D print models directly in the product design process, eliminating the need for external modeling and reasonably preventing data leaks.

Moreover, the maker who seeks novelty, innovation, and design are usually personalized and unusual characteristics. 3D printers won’t limit their imagination, and the complex design can also be printed in one go.

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