3DBaz– I’ve looked at quotes for 3D printing from a few suppliers and there is a wide price difference between them. Why is that?
This is a question I’m frequently asked by people who are looking at getting something 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 option for your next part.
As a co-founder of a 3D printing service that works with suppliers all over the world to provide 3D printing services using all major technologies, I’ve had more insight than most people into how commercial 3D printing is priced by different companies. The market is still fragmented, and it’s hard for customers to compare options between different technologies and suppliers, a problem we’ve solved by working with suppliers to create a single platform for comparing pricing across the industry.
I’ve written this article to share some of the insights I’ve gained on 3D printing pricing with you in order to help you understand what factors influence the price you see when you get a quote for 3D printing. We’ll cover the major factors that drive all production process, and dive deeper in the pricing factors for each of the major 3DP technologies.
The most common factors 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 suppliers operating the same machines may still use very different formulas for pricing. Some 3D print suppliers rely on recommended pricing models provided by their hardware manufacturers. Others take into account different factors that make sense for their business.
It’s important to distinguish price from cost. Cost is what a supplier has to pay for the materials, equipment, and people needed to 3D print something for you at their facility, and price is what they charge you for it. Generally, price IS related to cost in some way, with costs calculated and then profit margin applied afterwards.
The major cost drivers for suppliers are generally the following:
- 3D print time. The more time a 3D print takes, the more depreciation and maintenance.
- The cost of labor. There is some time required for an operator to get a machine started and to remove parts from the machine after printing, and any post-printing finishing also takes extra time.
- The cost of the raw materials and other consumables. These are what the part is made of (filament, powdered plastic/nylon/metal, resin, argon gas, etc.).
Each of these cost drivers has associated pricing factors. These factors create a relationship between the characteristics of the part and the overall cost. Some of the most common price factors are shown in the table below, mapped to the relevant cost drivers.
Full article @ 3Ders