This is a guide for at-home 3D printers that are making parts for individual sales. This basically means that I will not be taking rent/lease/mortgage, internet, or machine cost into the calculation. This is purely cost per hour to run the 3D printer plus materials cost to give a fair evaluation of how much to charge for 3D prints and is not scaled for industrial factors or business expenses.
The simplest calculation to charge for a 3D print is (Filament Cost + Electricity Cost) times 3 plus the cost of programming, machine time, post-processing time, and adhesion materials. You should also have a predetermined minimum charge, $5.00 is a customary minimum charge.
The most expensive cost associated with 3D printing is time for setup, programming, and post-processing. You need to determine for yourself what a fair and reasonable hourly charge is for your own labor.
I have broken down the cost of 3D printing below.
Large 3D Print Cost Analysis.
Let’s assume we are printing out a 300% Benchy that is 144mm tall (5.669in). The print will take $6.24 in filament, $0.63 in electricity, 10 minutes in setup time ($1.66), 34.5 hours of machine time ($34.50), 0 hours post-processing time, and $0.50 in adhesion materials.
300% 3DBenchy = (($6.24 + $0.63) x 3) + $1.66 + $34.50 + $0.50 = $57.27
$57.27 probably sounds like a lot of money but I think you will find that this is actually a pretty good deal considering what other companies are charging for similar prints.
If you are wanting to do the friends and family discount and only charge for cost then only charge for filament, electricity, and adhesion materials.
300% 3DBenchy F&F discount. = $6.24 + $0.63 + $0.50 = $7.37
Small 3D print Cost Analysis.
Now let’s look at a much smaller %50 3DBenchy that is only 24mm tall. The print will take $0.05 in filament, $0.02 in electricity, 10 minutes setup time ($1.66), 0.66 hours machine time ($0.66), 0 hours post-processing time, and $0.50 in adhesion materials.
50% 3DBenchy = (($0.05 + $0.02) x 3) + $1.66 + $0.66 + $0.50 = $3.03 (Or your $5.00 minimum).
50% 3DBenchy F&F Discount = $0.05 + $0.02 + $0.50 = $0.57
How Much Does 3D Printing Cost Per Gram?
3D printing typically costs $0.02 to $0.05 per gram for FDM printers and $0.03 to $0.06 per gram for SLA printers. The difference per gram doesn’t seem to make a large difference but for a larger print, it builds quickly.
For example, a 3DBenchy at 20% infill is 13g of filament which means it would cost $0.26 to $0.65 for FDM and 0.39 to 0.78 for an SLA printer.
What Costs Should Be Considered When 3D Printing?
The main costs that should be considered when 3D printing is Filament Cost, Electricity, Machine Time, Programming Time, Post-Processing, and Adhesion Materials. If you are selling your prints just at cost then only calculate Filament Cost, Electricity, and Adhesion Materials.
How Much Filament Does A 3D Printer Use?
The easiest way to calculate how much filament you are using is by inputting the variables into your slicer settings. Most slicers have the ability to calculate the cost of the filament by using the cost of a spool of filament divided by the grams of filament on the spool times the material density times the grams of filament used.
For example, if a spool of filament costs $24.00 for a 1kg spool of PLA filament (1000g) and you are printing a 3DBenchy that is 13g of filament. (24.00/1000)*1.24*13 = $0.38
In Cura go to Settings > Extruder 1 > Material > Manage Material (or click Ctrl + K). From this window in the General tab, you can change the currency by simply erasing the currently inputted value with your desired currency. In the Materials tab, select your material type, input the cost of your filament spool as well as the amount of material on the spool. (In Cura, the slicer automatically calculates the material density for you when you select your material type.)
When you slice your model the grams of filament used, length of material used, and cost of material will be in the same window where the slice button was.
In Slic3r go to Settings > Filament Settings (or click Ctrl+2) here you can input your filament diameter (typically 1.75mm), the cost per kg, or your filament, as well as your material density which you can find here.
After you export your G-Code Slic3r will create a Print summary in the lower right-hand side of the software that will show you the length of filament used, the grams of filament used, and below that the cost of the print.
In PrusaSlicer go to the Filament Settings tab. Here you can input your filament cost per spool as well as the amount of material on the spool. You will also need the filament density which can be found here.
When you slice your model the length of filament used, grams of filament used, and cost of filament will show in the lower right corner.
As you can see from all 3 of these slicers the numbers are not exactly the same for all of them. This is because the infill pattern is slightly different. The most user-friendly and probably the most popular is Cura. My least favorite of these 3 is Slic3r, it feels very outdated and not very user-friendly.
How Much Electricity Does A 3D Printer Use?
Electricity doesn’t play a massive role in the cost of 3D printing but I believe that the cost should still be considered especially on larger prints or on 3D printers that use more electricity. I have already created a calculator just for figuring the cost of electricity for your 3D prints which can be found here.
What Is A Good Hourly Rate For 3D Printing?
A good fixed rate for machine time is $0.50 to $1.00 per hour depending on the complexity of the print. I also think it is wise to have a $5.00 minimum on all 3D prints. There is no real exact number for how much you should charge per hour so you might have to gauge your market to see what is acceptable.
How Much Time Does It Take To Program A 3D Printer?
Typically programming and starting a 3D printer will take less than 10 minutes. If there are special requirements or modifications that need to be made that cost for time and resources can be passed down to your customer and you should charge them your hourly rate.
How Much Should I Charge For Post-Processing 3D Prints?
For Post-Processing a 3D print you should charge an hourly rate that you will determine yourself. If this hourly rate is projected to be too high for your customer then you can always recommend they take care of the post-processing themself.
How Much Should I Charge For Adhesion Materials For 3D Prints?
The cost of adhesion materials for 3D printing are painters tape and stick glue which is usually a very cheap item. You can get a stick of glue for about $1.00 and a roll of painter’s tape for about $5.00. The easiest way to charge for these items is a flat rate of $0.50 per print.