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How do suppliers calculate pricing for 3D prints? – 3ders.org (blog)

by • July 20, 2016 • No Comments

Jul 21, 2016 | By James Smith
I’ve looked at quotes for 3D printing of a few suppliers and there is a wide price difference between them. Why is that?
This is a question I’m frequently asked by individuals who are looking at getting a thing 3D printed. Big differences in price between suppliers can be baffling, especially when the supplier who was cheapest for your last part inexplicably becomes the most expensive version for your future part.
As a co-founder of a 3D printing service that works with suppliers all over the world to provide 3D printing services via all worthwhile technologies, I’ve had extra
insight than most individuals into how commercial 3D printing is priced by different types of companies. The market is yet fragmented, and it’s complex for customers to compare versions between different types of technologies and suppliers, a problem we’ve solved by working with suppliers to turn it into a single platform for comparing pricing across the industry.
I’ve written this article to share a few of the insights I’ve gained on 3D printing pricing with you in order to assist you know what facts effects the price you see when you get a quote for 3D printing. We’ll cover the worthwhile facts that drive all production system, and dive deeper in the pricing facts for equite of the worthwhile 3DP technologies.
The most common facts in price
First, there is no industry standard for calculating price. Each industrial 3D print supplier has their own way of calculating a price, and different types of suppliers operating the same machines may yet use quite different types of formulas for pricing. Some 3D print suppliers rely on recommended pricing versions provided by their complexware manufacturers. Others take into account different types of facts that manufacture sense for their business.
It is worthwhile to distinguish price of cost. Cost is what a supplier has to pay for the materials, equipment, and individuals needed to 3D print a thing for you at their facility, and price is what they charge you for it. Generally, price IS related to cost in a few way, with costs calculated and and so profit margin applied afterwards.
The worthwhile cost drivers for suppliers are generally the following:
3D print time. The extra
time a 3D print takes, the extra
depreciation and maintenance.
The cost of labor. There is a few time needd for an operator to get a machine started and to remove parts of the machine after printing, and any post-printing finishing in addition takes extra time.
The cost of the raw materials and other consumables. These are what the part is created of (filament, powdered plastic/nylon/metal, resin, argon gas, etc.).Each of these cost drivers has synonymous pricing facts. These facts turn it into a relationship between the characteristics of the part and the overall cost. Some of the most common price facts are shown in the table at a lower place, mapped to the relevant cost drivers.

Cost Driver
Common Price Factors
3D print time
Part bounding box volume (how much of the printing device does the part use?)
Height of part (how most layers can be needed?)
Setup fee (how much time is needed to set up the print?)
Finishing fee (how much time is needed to do post-print surface finishing?)
Raw materials
Part volume (how much material goes into the part?)
Support volume (how much material goes into the assists?)
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into the details on price inputs organized by the different types of 3D printing technologies.
Price inputs for the different types of 3D printing technologies
Futilized Deposition Modeling (FDM)

An ABS scale version 3D printed via FDM (Image credit: James Smith)
FDM extrudes melted thermoplastics out of a hot nozzle and creates up shapes of that extrusion layer by layer.
Pricing for FDM is usually pretty easy, and expressed as a price per cubic centimeter or cubic inch of material. This comes with the part’s volume and the assist material volume
There is a time factor included in the cost of the 3D print; yet, this is most frequently included in the price per cubic centimeter/inch.
Even yet this is the most common way to calculate pricing for FDM, a few vendors have utilized part volume alone.
Depending on the 3D print supplier you select and the 3D printing device they are via, assist material may be the same material as the 3D print that is broken away, or it is an entirely different types of material that can be dissolved away leaving only the printed part.
One other factor that is one-of-a-kind to this type of printing is whether or not the part is printed solid. If the print is solid, extra
material is utilized for the print, thereby increasing the cost.
Most of the commercial printing devices in this class are capable of printing accurate layers as satisfactory as .254mm (0.01”) in thickness. If you want thinner layers, and the printing device / material combination assists it, and so the cost can be higher due to a longer machine time needd to create your 3D printed part.
Exotic materials, such as Ultem or PPSF, typically are higher priced per cubic centimeter/inch than traditional thermoplastics (ABS and PC) and may not assisted by the worthwhileity of industrial 3D printing machines.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

A nylon assembly 3D printed via SLS (Image credit: James Smith)
SLS 3D printing creates parts up by initially laying down a thin layer of satisfactory powdered material on a create plate, such as nylon plastic, and so exactly fvia (sintering) powder particles together via a high-powered laser. After equite layer is created, the create plate moves down slightly and the system is repeated until the part create is consume.
The major advantage of via this method for 3D printing is that there is no need for assist material, since the non-sintered nylon powder acts as its own assist for the print.
The two most common methods for calculating SLS prices are either based on the 3D printed part volume (the amount of sintered nylon) or by the bounding box volume (the total space the part takes up in the machine).
Depending on your part geometry and part / bounding box density, one price version may be extra
cost effective than the other. It is great to compare that 3D print supplier prices are the most economical side by side. If you have a tiny, dense part, it may be cheaper at one supplier, whereas a big part with lots of empty spaces within it can be cheaper at another supplier.

Stereolithography (SLA) and Polyjet

A part 3D printed via SLA, By Binarysequence (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
SLA innovation creates parts layer by layer via photopolymerization, a system where UV light causes chains of molecules to link together. The part is created down into a photopolymer resin bath. When the print is consume, the bath is drained, announcing the consumed 3D printed part.
PolyJet printing device systems spray and cure photopolymer materials onto a create tray in ultra-thin layers until the part is consumed, much like to how an inkjet printing device works. Similar to SLA, equite PolyJet layer is cured with UV light after it is jetted. The gel-like assist material, that is created to assist complex geometries, is removed by hand and water jetting.
These 3D printing technologies are for printing versions that need a quite high degree of accuracy, or, in PolyJet’s case, multiple materials in a single part.
Pricing variables we frequently see via SLA and PolyJet technologies include part volume, assist volume, bounding box volume, and machine time. Often, the cost of the print can be optimized by finding a part orientation that balances minimum height and minimum assist to complete minimum overall price. In the case of PolyJet, if multiple materials are needd, and so the specifics of that materials are needed and how much of equite are needd can be a factor in calculating the price.
These technologies tend to be a bit pricier than other forms of plastic 3D printing, as the highly accurate 3D prints take extra
time to create and the photopolymer plastic materials are extra
If you need highly accurate 3D prints, yet, SLA and PolyJet are what you are looking for.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

A golf club head 3D printed via DMLS (Image credit: James Smith)
DMLS innovation is much like to FDM in that parts printed via this method need assist for overhangs. But, DMLS is in addition much like to SLS in that the satisfactory metal powder is evenly distributed across the create plate in thin layers preceding a high-powered laser exactly sinters the metal powder together. The system is repeated over and over until the 3D printed part is consume.
In most cases, one machine is capable of printing different types of metals, that may be priced different types ofly.
Machine time is frequently factored in to the total cost by measuring the part’s orientation on the Z axis (i.e. the height). Since the machine has to spend extra
time laying down extra
layers of powder for a taller part, it takes the machine longer to print a part if it is “standing up” vs “laying down”. If you want to decrease the price of 3D printed metal parts, orient the parts so that open faces are oriented up (reduces needd assist) and that the Z axis is as tiny as possible (i.e. lay the part as flat as possible).
The major methods utilized for determining a DMLS 3D printed part’s price are part volume, assist volume, and machine time. Less commonly, we in addition have seen instances where price is calculated based on a volume desatisfactoryd by optimum orientation, X and Y and a maximum Z. This relies on a 100% print volume utilization assumption.
Because of these differences, you are most likely to see wide variances in metal 3D printing pricing.
With DMLS 3D printing, you can most likely in addition see higher minimum pricing in place – that means you will end up paying a pre-determined minimum fee for parts at a lower place a certain dimensions, regardless of how tiny they are. In addition, the setup and part finishing fees are higher for metal parts, since the finishing work needed for metal parts is extra
time consuming than with the plastics.
It is in addition worth noting that you may need extra
post systeming to get the surface high end you want, that can add to the cost and price. 3D printed metal parts created of DMLS innovation can be welded and can be polished. Be certain to specify what type of finish you need for your metal 3D printed part up front since this can have a noticeable impact on the price.
Now we advantageous know what goes into calculating 3D printing prices
I hope this article gives you a advantageous knowing of the different types of parameters that affect how 3D print prices are calculated. We ponder the most way to navigate these price variations is to compare prices on one screen. If you’d like to learn extra
, Made for Me’s extensive 3D print supplier network lets you compare prices and production times of a wide range of industrial 3D printing devices.

*James Smith is a Co-Founder and the COO at Made for Me, a global platform for pro 3D printing services.

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