3D printing service costs

How to Calculate the Cost of 3D Printed Parts

Many businesses and individuals use 3D printing due to its ease of operation, accuracy, precision, and suitability for making products with complex designs. The process is suitable for both industrial grade and commercial grade products, and many people use it in DIY or outsource to 3D printing services. Whichever option, it is important to consider the 3D printing service cost before diving into the process.

Many factors are responsible for the difference in costs, and this article will introduce the factors affecting 3D printing service costs and also show how to calculate and reduce the cost of 3D printed parts.

What Determines 3D Printing Service Cost?

Capital is a huge decision when deciding on the right 3D printing service. Therefore, it is important to know about several factors that can determine the amount of capital you spend printing or outsourcing your project. Below are the important factors to consider in the relationship between cost and 3D printing.

3D Printer Price

3D printers come with different technologies, features, and sophistication which affects the cost of 3D printers and 3D printed parts, quality, and quantity. Below are the important factors you should consider.

· Different 3D Printing Technologies

3D printing is an additive technology that involves making a 3D printed product from a CAD model. However, 3D printers operate based on different technologies. This affects the 3D printer’s mechanism, speed of production, suitable materials, post-processing finishing, and, more importantly, the cost of the service or 3D printed parts.

Amongst the different technology used in 3D printing, a few stand out when comparing price and 3D printing. One is the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) which involves building parts by melting, extruding, and deposition of thermoplastic filaments. FDM 3D printers have the lowest cost seen in manufacturing. Another common technology is Stereolithography (SLA) which involves using a laser to cure resin into hardened plastic. The technology has a high cost due to its high accuracy, precision, and versatility. Other technologies include Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Selective Laser Melting and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), and they have a high cost due to rarity.

· 3D Printer Setup Price

Setting up a 3D printer might be a difficult task to do alone as many people would not want to damage or trigger some wrong settings in a newly bought 3D printer. To be a step ahead, most people hire technicians. However, this comes at a price.

There is no pinpoint setup price of a 3D printer as the price varies based on the expertise of the technicians and the sophistication of the 3D printer. For example, FDM printers’ setup price ranges between $200-$1000.

· 3D Printer Operation Price

To answer the question of how much 3D printing costs, it is important to look at the cost of operating a 3D printer. We will explain this using a simple illustration.

Let’s say you decide to buy a $2000 3D printer that you plan to use for 10 hours every day for 2 years. Now, ignoring the cost of repairs, maintenance, and electricity, let us calculate:

10 hours x 365 days x 2years = 7300 total hours

$2000 ÷ 7300 = ~$0.27/hr

With our simple calculation, we can conclude that the cost of operating this $2000 3D printer is $0.27/hr. In this regard, a 3D model that takes about 3 hours to 3D print will cost you about (0.27 x 3) $0.81.

Therefore, the knowledge of the actual cost of printing a 3D model is a determinant of the 3D printing service cost.

· Maintenance Cost

3D printers will deliver top-quality prints, but without maintenance, their performance and print quality will decline. Like many other machines, a 3D printer needs proper maintenance. However, this comes with its cost.

Maintenance costs comprise the cost of replacing 3D printer parts and cleaning such parts. Depending on the parts and the sophistication of the 3D printer, this might cost a few hundred dollars. For example, for an FDM printer, the maintenance cost ranges from $200 – $500. For those that want experts to handle the job, the maintenance costs will increase as the “expert” will also charge his fee.

3D Printing Material

Materials used in making strong 3D printing keep increasing as knowledge of the field keeps progressing. This increases the flexibility in making products, their features, and the cost of 3d printing parts. The effect of materials on 3D printed parts, and 3D printing service cost is profound as accessibility, rarity, etc., plays a huge role. Common materials used in 3D printing are:

· Powder and Filament

Powders and filaments are the cheapest and the most common kinds of materials used in 3D printing. They are thermoplastics, i.e., when you melt them, you can reshape and remold them till the desired outcome is produced.

Non-experts and those who just engage in 3D printing as a hobby like to use these thermoplastics (common ones being PLA and ABS) because they are inexpensive. For example, filaments could be as low as $20 per kg. However, while cheap, using these materials in producing top-quality products is a tough task as you will spend a lot of money and time perfecting the 3D models.

· Resin

Resins are arguably the best 3D printing materials as they are easy to work on it and post-operation is very easy. However, unlike plastics and filaments, they are quite expensive. Therefore, working with them will surely drive up the cost of 3D printed parts, and services that use them will have a higher cost.

· High-End Materials

3D printing service cost tends to increase when you use high-end materials. High-end materials are not readily accessible and common, leading to them being more expensive. For example, working with metals such as titanium, cobalt, aluminum, nickel, and alloy steel is very expensive. This is due to the need for specific technologies, e.g., DMLS which from the previous section is shown to be expensive.

The Size and Complexity of the 3D Model

In designing 3D prints, a 3D model is essential to make a precise and accurate 3D print as it provides the essential details needed for the production process. After getting the 3D model, it is easier to estimate the cost of a 3D print or 3D printing service cost.

The complexity and size of the model affect the final price of the 3D print. Complex designs might need an accurate and precise 3D printing technology, and this will affect the cost. Understanding the complexity and size of the 3D model will help prevent capital wasting and time-wasting.

Part Volume

The part volume determines the amount of material which also indicates the printing technology. Although 3D printing has many advantages for mass production, the large part volume will require a large number of materials and a longer printing time. Also, the size of the material will determine the post-processing operations, which is another factor affecting 3D printing service cost.

Post-Processing for 3D Printed Parts

After printing a product, many surface finishing solutions are used to improve the quality and functionality of the 3D prints. These post-processing procedures add a few bucks to the cost of 3D printed parts or 3D printing services. Top post-processing process and their relationship with cost include:

· Polishing

Polishing is a post-processing process suitable for achieving the smoothest possible surface for a 3D print. It involves sanding the 3D print, rinsing the prints, then applying the polisher. Polishing is very expensive as there is a need for dimensional accuracy and a highly moderate skill level.

· Electroplating

This involves coating the 3D prints with specific metals such as gold or silver using electrolysis. The 3D print is the cathode while the metal is the anode, and both are dipped in an electrolyte. On passage of current, there is a deposition of the metal ion on the 3D print.

Electroplating is suitable for improving the strength and appearance of 3D prints. However, the process is very expensive due to the mechanism and the coating metal.

· Epoxy Coating

Epoxy coating involves coating the 3D prints with epoxy resin and a hardener to improve their strength and seal the porous part of the prints. Generally, it is an effective and costly protective process. The cost of the process depends on the type of epoxy coating your get and the experience of the person coating it.

The Cost of Some 3D Printed Projects

3D printing a part requires you to have knowledge about how to calculate the cost of 3D printed parts, or you can get help from 3d printing service calculator.  From here, it would be easy to make an estimation for your product. Here, we will focus mainly on the filament, but the same principle is applicable to other materials.

The price of an average filament used in 3D printing is $25 per kilogram. With this and the weight of objects to be printed, we can easily calculate the cost of producing such prints. Let us calculate the cost of 3D printed parts for some common products.

Cost of Printing a Prototype

A simple prototype weighing 200 grams would cost:

Since the cost of filament is $25/kg

Changing to gram becomes $25/1000 g= $0.025/g

Therefore, the cost of making this 200g filament would be 200 x 0.025 = $5.

However, this is not always the case as prototypes could even be smaller, weighing merely 20g. In the same manner, they could be large objects, i.e., a lot of kgs.

Prototype 3D printing service could cost more depending on the model size, complexity, and the experience of the team handling the process.

Cost of Printing a Phone Case

Using the case of an iPhone X, which weighs 35g, as an example, we can calculate the cost of 3D printing this phone case.

We multiply the weight of the phone case by our cost per printing a gram of an object, $0.025/g.

$0.025/g * 35 = $0.86.

Some phone cases with fine details and designs that need to be carefully finished would surely cost way more.

Cost of Printing a Mask

Masks used by our favorite superheroes come in different sizes and designs. Let us make use of a simple Batman mask weighing 150g as an example.

To calculate the 3D printing cost of such a mask, we simply multiply the weight by our $0.025/g, which is the cost of 3D printing a gram of an object.

150g * $0.025/g = $3.75.

Cost of Printing a Mug

3D printing is not just for plastic parts, and it has applications in creating mugs. Using a mug weighing 250 grams, we will multiply the weight of our mug by the cost of creating a 1g object.

250g * $0.025/g = $6.25.

The above calculation is for the cost of plastic for those owning a 3D printer. If you outsource, the 3D printing service cost increases based on model complexity and size, post-processing, team experience, quality prints, and branding.

How to Reduce the 3D Printing Cost

The cost of 3D printed parts or 3D printing service cost depends on machine time and material cost. Therefore, to reduce the 3D printing cost, you should be to balance both aspects. Below are a few normal and technical ways to reduce the 3D printing cost.

Use a Cheaper Material

As you should have known by now, the kind of materials used in your 3D printing goes a long way in the total cost spent. So, you should use a printing material with a balance of quality and cost for your prints.

Choose the Right Process

Different 3D printing technology has different costs. This can be due to the sophistication of the machine or the material. Therefore, it is better to choose the technology within your capital range without compromising on functionality.

Save Printing Material

The larger the 3D model, the higher the 3D printing service cost. Reducing the size of the model means a lesser volume, which indicates a lesser amount of material needed for the print and, of course, less cost. However, when reducing the size of the model, you should not alter its functionality. Below are a few ways to reduce the amount of material:

– Hollowing

Some 3D printed parts do not require full solidness. Therefore, hollowing will reduce the number of materials you use which is tantamount to less cost.

– Remove Support Structures

Support is integral in making parts that overhang. However, it uses more materials, requires post-processing, and increases the cost of production. Therefore, you should eliminate the need for support by designing an overhang angle greater than 450 and splitting your model.

– Reduce Infill Percentage

You can also reduce the cost of 3D printing by reducing the infill percentage. This will also preserve the materials and improve productivity. This is an ideal method when the product does not need to meet certain structural or mechanical needs.

Choose a Greater Layer Height and Resolution

The layer height will determine the resolution of the printed item. Low layer height prints will have a smoother surface but increase production time and automatically the cost. Therefore, you should increase the layer height. However, while increasing the layer height, consider whether it will affect the appearance and functionality of the 3D printed parts.

– Select the Appropriate Finish

3D printing services provider will happily give you any post-processing finish you want. However, each post-processing finish has its cost, which contributes to the overall cost of 3D printing. For example, painting is cheaper than electroplating, and it is also less durable with lower quality. Therefore, you should research the best post-processing technique and the cost they attract.


The cost of 3D printing should not be considered a limiting factor for those who want to enjoy the art of 3D printing. While it does not change or cannot be overemphasized, it is important to know about the different factors that determine the cost.

Do you have a 3D printing project that requires high-quality 3D printing services? Reach out to us at RapidDirect. RapidDirect is a reputable rapid prototyping service provider that provides professional solutions and services. We also offer an instant quote and DfM feedback which improves your manufacturing process. 


Is 3D printing expensive or cost-effective?

Yes, 3D printing is cost-effective!
As a one-step process, 3D printing saves cost and time. Being an automated process, it gives room for multitasking. You could set up your printer and go on doing something else.

Is 3D printing the same as Rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing?

Yes, 3D printing is the same as additive manufacturing, while rapid prototyping is a subset of the process. Additive manufacturing is just a way of describing what 3D printing as products are from layer by layer. 3D printing is the procedure; rapid prototyping is the outcome of that procedure which means rapid prototyping is a subset of 3D printing.

How much does 3D printing cost?

As a 3d printing company, we always get asked: "how much does it cost to 3d print?".

Our answer has always been "it depends" as there are factors that contribute to the cost of 3d printing. You're looking at anywhere between $3 to $1000(or even more) for the cost to 3d print based on these factors.

So today, we're breaking down each factor for you. If you're 3D printing at home, then those factors are your material, electricity and 3D printer cost. But if you're looking for a 3d printing service or looking into starting a 3D printing business, this guide should help you understand how pricing works when it comes to 3d printing.

Factors that affect the price of 3D printing

Cost of buying and running a 3D printer

If you're starting a 3D printing business or looking to make money with 3D printing, you might want to consider the price of a 3D printer in calculating the cost to 3D print something. 3D printers can cost anywhere between $200 to $150,000 depending on the technology being used.

Let's say you purchased a $1500 3D Printer that you plan to use 8 hrs / day for 2 years. We're going to ignore repair cost, electricity, etc. for the sake of simplicity.

8 x 365 x 2 = 5840 total hours

$1500 / 5840 hrs = ~ $0.21/hr

So if your 3D model would take about 4 hours to 3D print, then you need to charge $0. 84 on top of your price to account for your machine upkeep.

In a way, the time it takes to 3D print also adds to the cost of 3D printing.

3D Model

3D model of a dinosaur trophy

"Send us the 3D model" is the second thing we tell our clients after telling them "it depends". Without the 3D model, it's tough to come up with an accurate quote for a 3D print even for seasoned veterans.

The 3D model gives us essential information that can help us quote a 3d print.

Model volume

With the 3d model on hand, we can calculate the total volume of the model, including the generated supports. The total volume lets us know how much material is needed to 3d print your file.

In short, the larger the volume, the higher the cost. There are ways to reduce the cost of 3D printing, and one of them is to hollow your model.

A 3ft model can have less volume than a 1ft model if the 1ft model is solid on the inside, while the 3ft model is hollow. 

That is why coming up with an estimate price of 3d printing without the 3d model is not easy.


Not all 3d models are created equal. Some are 3d print-ready, while some are just plain crazy. 3d printing takes preparation and planning. For some 3d printing services, everything is automated, which can make transactions faster. For simple products, this can be the right solution.

But what about complex parts and architectural models? We found that even with the most sophisticated algorithm, you still need some human guidance when it comes to 3d printing these type of projects.

A quick story, a client sent us a 3d model of an actual stadium. They wanted a 3d printed version of this. As we inspected the file, we saw that the model had multiple problems. There were loose joints, the walls were too thin, and there were 3d models inside the stadium itself.

If we just 3d printed it right away, it would have cost us thousands of dollars on wasted material!

Take this into consideration. Are you willing to risk having your 3d model printed as is? Or do you want to make sure that the final print exceeds your expectations?

Type of material

The materials that you choose matters when it comes to the cost of 3d printing. There are tons to choose from so we are going to focus on the popular ones, thermoplastics and resin.

Thermoplastics: Filaments and Powder

Cost: $

Even if you are new to 3d printing, you have probably heard of "ABS" or "PLA". That's because these two are the most widely used 3d printing material out there. Hobbyists love these thermoplastics as they are cheap. These filaments can cost between $20 to $70 per kg.[1]

Although they are cheap, getting a high-quality 3d print out of them is not easy. It will take hours of post-processing time to get smooth finishing from these prints. (More on that later.) In addition to that, 3d printing complex 3d models are nearly impossible using this type of material. 

Thermosets: Resin

Cost: $$$

Resin is, in our opinion, the best 3d printing material out there. It's versatile for almost any complex project, and it would give you the best quality 3d print. But at the same time, resin material can get quite costly. Standard resin, on average, cost $50 per litre, and some resin materials can go up to $300 per litre. Luckily, 3d printing companies usually have access to discounted prices for this type of material.

Want to find out how much your 3D model will cost?

Use our instant quoting system to calculate how much it will cost to 3D print something.


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Most don't realize that 3d printing is not an instant process. Drop your file, print, and it's ready. (We hope it was).

After 3d printing, the resulting print needs to be cured, cleaned and polished before you can consider them useable. That is if the 3d printing service company cares about the quality of their product.


Imagine polishing the one on the left to make it smooth? Photo courtesy of Formlabs.

For filaments, don't even waste your time. As someone who spent hours removing supports, we don't want to you put you through that hell. If you value your time, the amount of time you will spend sanding these prints would cost a lot. And even then, the quality wouldn't be on par compared to resin.

For resin, it's simpler. Once the pieces are UV cured, we can polish it by hand or using a sandblaster. 

Again, the 3d model matters as it could affect post-processing. Some models are so complex that the generated supports are very hard to clean. It would take some expertise and a lot of patience for someone to clean these prints.


At PrintAWorld, the projects that we work on usually require more than just 3d printing. Our clients would ask for their 3d print to have a gold finishing, chrome or even an exact Pantone color. With current 3d printing technology, this is impossible to accomplish. So we offer metal plating and painting on top of our 3d printing services.

Profit margin

For 3D printing companies to stay in business, they need to add a profit margins on top of the 3D printing cost. Profit margins for a 3D printing business can be somewhere between 50% - 90% of material cost. We're using material cost as a basis for the sake of simplicity. But profit margins are actually much lower once you start including labor and overhead costs.

There is also a base price (or a minimum fee) that gets added if if the cost of 3D printing is less than a certain amount. It wouldn't make sense for a company to 3D print something for you for a print that costs $3. Even in a highly automated 3D printing service, there's still some labor involved. Either you add more quantity or pay the base price which is around $30-$90.

3DHubs has a minimum order of $90. It would be wiser if you order multiple quantities of your part to lessen the cost.

3D printing service price comparison

Now that we know what factors affect the price of 3D printing, let's see how much it would cost to 3D print this popular WallStreeBets mascot by ChaosCoreTech.

For this test we will be using SLA 3D printing.

We modified the file so we can stress test the on-demand 3D printing services that offer SLA printing.

  • Scaled it up to 152mm or ~6" high

  • We hollowed the 3D model. Meaning, the insides are empty.

    • This makes it use less material, making it cheaper.

    • Speed up the 3D printing time for SLA, which should lower the cost.

  • 3DHubs

    Price: $537

    3DHubs won't even allow you to print this in resin as it's bigger than what their manufacturers can print.

  • i.materialise

    Price: $211.17

    Cheaper than 3DHubs but they won't clean the supports for you at this price. If you need it cleaned, you need to pay extra.

  • Shapeways

    Price: $2061.56

    We're not sure why it's this expensive. They might have miscalculated the model volume which made it seem that this piece would require half a liter of resin to print. But, either way, Shapeways is the most expensive one out of this group.

  • Most Affordable


    Price: $136.32

    Disclaimer. This is our 3D printing company. For SLA 3D printing, we are definitely the cheapest compared to the others in this group. Removing the supports and polishing is even included in the service.

    Try it out

Why are 3D printing services expensive?

3D printing services are expensive because we have to account for factors mentioned beforehand such as labor, post processing and overhead costs. We also have to account the industrial 3D printers that they use, which cost at least $100,000 and upwards. Plus, they have to add profit margin on top of that cost.

This begs the question, is it better to buy a 3D printer instead?

Should you buy a 3D printer or hire a 3D printing service?

3D printing services can sometimes cost more than an entry level 3D printer. So you might be wondering if it's better to buy a 3D printer instead.

Here's our thoughts on that:

  • If cost is a problem for you and you're only 3D printing for fun, then buying a 3D printer might be the better investment in the long run.

  • If your time is more valuable for you, then hiring a 3D printing service would be the better option. You'll have access to large scale 3D printers and capabilities that is impossible to achieve with DIY 3D printing.

Best Budget 3D Printer

Anycubic Photon Mono

The Photon Mono is the best LCD 3D printer that we've gotten our hands on. We own 8 of these machines and use it as part of our manufacturing process. It's cheap but the print quality is almost the same as the ones that we get from our Formlabs 3. If you're looking to buy your first 3D printer, we recommend going for a resin 3D printer like this one instead of buying an FDM printer.

$229.00 from Anycubic

Commisions earned

In Summary

Multiple factors affect the price of a 3d printing service. If you add in all these variables, you're looking at anywhere between $30 to $15,000 for the cost of 3d printing. The price can even be lower or higher, depending on the scale of your project.

Printing of ABS (ABS) plastic using FDM technology to order

Printing of ABS (ABS) plastic using FDM technology to order

Printing ABS (ABS) with plastic using FDM technology to order

Technology: 3D PRINT

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Feedback form for calculating the cost of 3D printing

If you have a finished 3D model, upload it to the online form to calculate the cost of 3D printing.
If you do not have a 3D model or need a preliminary consultation, contact us by phone +7 (499) 390-03-77, send a 3D model with questions to our mail [email protected] or fill out an application, we will contact you and answer all your questions.

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  • Cost of commercial 3D printing
  • What is not profitable to print
  • Examples of commercial printing
  • Totals
  • For some ideas, 3D printing is the fastest and easiest solution. In some situations, purchasing your own 3D printer can be a good solution, but sometimes it is much more profitable and faster to order the necessary product from a company specializing in 3D printing. Yes, and many owners of a 3D printer are thinking about how to “monetize” their hobby, but how to correctly calculate their costs?

    Despite the fact that it is customary to indicate the price per gram of working material, simply multiplying the weight of the model by the cost of 1 gram will be wrong. In addition to the cost of consumables, many more, at first glance, non-obvious costs are added to the price of the product.

    Each 3D printing technology uses its own consumables. Let's analyze the most popular and affordable of them.

    Available technologies and key differences

    Currently, a huge number of 3D devices have appeared, from small desktop ones that fit on the desktop to huge industrial machines. Among the most affordable, 2 technologies can be distinguished - FDM and photopolymer printers (LCD / DLP / SLA).

    FDM 3D printing

    Today, the most affordable 3D printing technology is FDM. A variety of materials and 3D printers allow FDM to be applied to a wide range of applications.

    Schematic operation of FDM printer

    A large selection makes it easy to choose a 3D printer for a specific task or find a universal device.

    The material for printing is a plastic thread - filament. On the market you can find filament for various tasks, for every “taste” and budget. These can be very inexpensive ABS and PLA plastics or specific ones - conductive, burnable, etc.



    Despite the fact that FDM allows you to print a wide range of plastics with different properties, the technology has some limitations. For example, it is impossible to obtain a perfectly smooth surface, to produce miniature and very thin elements, or to produce parts with very complex internal geometry with high accuracy.

    Photopolymer printing

    Photopolymer printers can work on one of 3 technologies - SLA, DLP or LCD. These devices will come to the rescue if you need to make a small but very detailed model with many small details.

    How photopolymer printers work

    As a consumable material, a photopolymer resin hardened by UV radiation is used. Now there is a wide variety of photopolymer resins for every taste. From particularly strong and precise engineering or jewelry resins to soft flexes.


    • High print precision

    • Good surface quality

    • A wide variety of printers and consumables


    Photopolymer printers have shown themselves well in a variety of industries that require a perfectly smooth surface and high accuracy. They are used in dentistry, the jewelry industry, for making miniature master models for casting, and much more.

    Industrial printers

    These are already industrial machines, which require a separate room and sometimes certain requirements for ventilation, etc. In this article, we will not analyze these devices in detail, but briefly consider the most popular technologies.


    In addition to desktop devices using FDM technology, industrial printers that work on the same principle are common.

    This category includes devices with a large print area (from 30x30x30 cm and more). For example, Raise Pro2 with a print area of ​​30x30x30 cm.

    Raise Pro2

    Or machines designed for printing with refractory materials (eg PEEK). Such 3D printers usually have an active thermal chamber, and the extruder can be heated above 400 degrees.

    CreatBot F160-PEEK for high melting plastics

    Photopolymer printers

    Industrial photopolymer devices usually have a much larger working area, compared to their "home" brothers. In addition, many processes have been optimized and automated for faster operation. On such printers, you can quickly and accurately produce a small batch of models, a large prototype or a master model.

    Large Area Prismlab Industrial Resin Printer Family

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    3DP - Three-Dimensional Printing (translated as three-dimensional printing) is a logical continuation of conventional two-dimensional printers. Printing is done using nozzles that selectively apply a binder to the material (usually gypsum). A dye can be added to the binder and the model will be colored.

    Colored plaster model

    Since the plaster model is fragile, a similar principle is used for printing with metals. Only the finished product needs to be treated in an oven to remove the binder and improve strength. But despite the processing, such metal prints will still be inferior in strength to cast products.


    This is a proprietary technology of 3D Systems. MJM is a mix of FDM, 3DP and sometimes SLA (depending on material chosen). Printing is done using a variety of small nozzles (from 96 to 488) located on the head of the machine. The accuracy and quality of the surface of models made in this way is in no way inferior to photopolymer printers.

    Models made with MJM technology

    Such devices can work with photopolymer resins, wax or thermoplastics. You can combine several materials at once - for example, for complex models, you can use wax as a support.


    SLM is the layer-by-layer sintering of metal powder using a powerful laser. There are several similar technologies - SHS/SLS. The principle of operation is the same, only a thermal print head is used instead of a laser beam.

    SLM Turbine

    As a material for printing, you can use powders of various metals - gold, stainless steel, aluminum, various alloys, etc.

    During printing, the working chamber is filled with an inert gas to prevent oxidation of metals. This allows printing even with titanium powder.

    Models made by this method are in no way inferior, and sometimes even superior, to cast products. SLM allows you to produce models with complex internal geometry that cannot be produced by another method (casting or milling).

    Cost of 3D printing

    The cost of a model usually consists of several factors.

    • Equipment depreciation. The printer, like any machine, requires maintenance and periodic replacement of some parts. During operation, belts gradually stretch, bushings or linear bearings wear out. For example, when bushings or linear bearings are worn; shafts may wear out and need to be replaced.

    Cost of materials

    The main cost item for a 3D printer is, of course, the printed material.;

    FDM (plastic filament)

    Since FDM technology is by far the most common, the choice of filaments is very diverse.

    • Engineering plastics are usually nylon with various fillers added to improve the physical characteristics of the finished model. Special cost. plastics starts from 2000r per coil and above. It all depends on the manufacturer and filler (carbon fiber, fiberglass, etc.).

    • Decorative plastics are used to imitate various materials. Plastic can simply be unusually colored (luminous, transparent plastics) or a special filler is added to it (plastics with metal powder). The cost of decorative plastics starts from 1500 rubles per coil and more, depending on the filler.

    A big advantage of FDM is the diverse choice of materials to work with. This allows, having one printer, to produce almost any product - from a child's toy to a complex engineering prototype.

    Photopolymers (resin)

    Photopolymer resin printing technology is becoming more and more accessible. There are many different resins.

    • The cost of ordinary colored resin starts from 2500 rubles per 0.5 kg (volume +/- 0.5 l). You can find a smaller volume of resin (250 gr) on sale. You can buy several different resins in small containers and find out in practice which one is best for a particular model.

    • Engineering resins are resins with increased strength. They can be used not only for printing decorative items, but also for making functional prototypes and models. The cost for 0.5 kg starts from 5900r and above.

    • Special resins - burnable, dental, soft flexes, etc. Depending on the resin, the price for 0.5 kg can start from 4800 rubles and more. It all depends on the characteristics of the resin.

    Photopolymer resins have not yet reached such a variety as FDM filaments, but they are surely catching up. Although due to the fact that a liter of resin costs significantly more than a spool of filament, the cost of the product is much higher.

    Print examples


    Mag Pull for G3 magazines.

    The model was downloaded for free from an open source (the file can be downloaded here). Printing with engineering carbon-filled plastic (price per spool from 4700 rubles). The weight of the model with support is about 25 grams. Post-processing was not needed. The cost of the finished model is 250 rubles.

    Plastic fastener

    The file was downloaded from an open source (can be downloaded here). Plastic - carbon-filled nylon (price per coil from 4700r). The weight of the finished product is about 20 grams. Print without post-processing. The total cost is 200 rubles.

    Model watch

    The model is modeled to order (the cost of modeling is from 1000 rubles). The product is printed on an industrial printer using soluble support. Print without post-processing. The cost of the finished product - from 700 rubles per piece (depends on the number of required products).

    Traction prosthesis

    The model is taken from an open source (you can download the modified version of the prosthesis here). The weight of the used material is about 600 gr, printed with ABS plastic (the cost of the coil is from 800 r). After printing, post-processing and assembly took place. The total cost of the product - from 3000 r (depends on the print material, support material, filling, etc.).

    Pedal layout

    Production of a 3D model according to the drawing (from 1000 r). The weight of the finished model is about 200 gr. The product was printed with engineering carbon-filled plastic (the cost of the coil is from 4700 r). Post-processing was not needed. The cost of the finished product is about 3000 rubles.

    Photopolymer printers

    Model jaws for crowns

    Files for printing were obtained using a 3D scanner and finalized in a 3D editor (the cost of scanning is from 3000 r, the cost of manual revision is from 1000 r). Printing on an industrial photopolymer printer. Post-processing is not needed. The cost of the finished product is from 80 r per gram.

    Burnout resin rings

    The model is made to order. Printing on a desktop SLA printer with a burnable polymer. Post-processing is not needed. The cost of the finished product is 200 rubles per product.


    The models were bought on the myminifactory website (the cost of the model is from $2). Made with a desktop DLP printer. Post-processing was not required. The cost of the finished figurine is from 70 r per gram.

    Custom 3D printing

    Many owners of 3D printers are thinking about monetizing their hobby. But you should understand that the price of 3D printing “for yourself” and the price of commercial printing are very different.

    When starting to print to order, it is better to have several printers working on different technologies.

    Cost of commercial 3D printing

    In addition to the cost of the model, to the commercial production of products, you can add:

    • Modeling. Often the client needs not only to make a part, but to pre-model it. It can be a simple cogwheel that doesn't take long to model, or it can be a complex sculpture that takes more time to model than it does to make.

    • Model post-processing. This can be simply the removal of supports, with cleaning of the place of their contact with the product, or a complete processing cycle (puttying, surface grinding, painting, etc. ).

    It should be borne in mind that it is not always possible to print the model the first time. Sometimes it may take several attempts. And these are additional costs.

    What is unprofitable to print

    Despite the wide possibilities of 3D printing, there are models that are unprofitable to make on a 3D printer. For such models, it is better to use other manufacturing methods.

    Commercial print examples

    Jewelry for further casting

    Manufacture of promotional items and souvenirs

    Piece miniatures or master model for further casting

    3D Printed Layout

    Profitable to print on a 3D printer:

    • If the item is only sold as an assembly. For example, a small gear broke in the mechanism, but the mechanism is sold only “assembly”. It is much cheaper to make the desired gear on a 3D printer than to buy the entire mechanism.

    • A small batch of parts. Small batches, especially models with complex geometry, are more profitable to produce on a 3D printer than by casting or other methods.


    If you need several models or a small project, sometimes it will be more expedient to outsource manufacturing. After all, in addition to buying equipment and materials, you will have to understand the nuances of the settings and the characteristics of various materials.

    Buying a 3D printer for commercial use is justified if you can fully load it with work or then it can be used for other purposes.

    To print to order, you need to have several printers working on different technologies. It is better to get several devices with a smaller print area than to buy just one printer, albeit with a large working area.


    Expert in additive technologies and 3D printing with over 5 years of experience.

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