3D Printing Services: Cost Calculation Guide

March 29, 2023

3D Printing Business Challenges

3D printing services have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering an affordable and customizable solution for businesses and individuals alike. However, determining the right price for your 3D printing services can be a challenge. 

Calculating 3D printing costs requires careful consideration of factors such as competitors, reputation, quality, and materials, as well as additional expenses such as rent and software. In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps to calculate your 3D printing service cost and set competitive prices that reflect the value of your services. Let's get started!

Factors to Calculate 3D Printing Costs

There is no one-size fits all formula when it comes to determining your pricing strategy. You may give quotes based on the 3D printing costs per hour or gram but they don’t give the complete picture. A pricing strategy should consider many factors to be profitable for the business and be priced reasonably for the customer.

The factors you have to consider are plenty if you want your business to be profitable and deliver good value to customers. Keep in mind that pricing is not the sole factor that customers use to decide with which business to work with. 

The major factors that you want to consider to determine the right pricing for you are:


Before setting your prices, it's important to research your competitors' pricing strategies. This will help you understand what the market rates are and ensure that your prices are competitive.

To research your competitors' pricing strategies, start by identifying other 3D printing service providers in your area or niche. The easiest way to do this is to search online. Once you have a list of competitors, visit their websites or contact them directly to inquire about their prices.

When analyzing your competitors' prices, pay attention to the services they offer, the quality of their work, and any unique selling points they have. For example, some competitors may offer faster turnaround times or specialized services that justify higher prices.

Based on your research, you can then set your prices to be competitive while also ensuring that you can cover your costs and generate a profit. However, it's important not to get too caught up in competing solely on price. Instead, focus on offering value to your clients through excellent customer service, high-quality work, and unique features or services that set you apart from your competitors.

When you keep a close eye on your competitors' pricing strategies and offer value to your clients, you can set your prices in a way that allows you to remain competitive and successful in the 3D printing industry.

Reputation and Quality

Reputation and quality are two critical factors that can significantly impact the prices you set for your 3D printing services. Clients often pay a premium for high-quality work from a reputable service provider. In-contrast poor-quality work can lead to negative reviews and difficulty finding new clients.

To establish a reputation for quality work, it's important to focus on producing 3D prints that meet or exceed your client's expectations. This means taking the time to understand their requirements and using high-quality materials to produce prints that are accurate, durable, and visually appealing. Consistency is also key, as clients will expect the same level of quality every time they work with you.

High-quality work alone isn’t enough. It's important to build a strong reputation by providing excellent customer service. This includes responding promptly to client inquiries, being transparent about your pricing and policies, and addressing any issues or concerns that arise in a timely and professional manner. Positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations can go a long way in building a strong reputation and attracting new clients.

Once you have established a reputation for quality work and excellent customer service, you can adjust your pricing strategy accordingly. Consider charging a premium for your services to reflect the added value your reputation and quality bring. 

By focusing on producing high-quality work, providing excellent customer service, and building a solid reputation, you can establish yourself as a reputable and reliable 3D printing service provider and set prices that reflect the value of your services.

Comparison of how printing speed affects the quality
Comparison of how printing speed affects the quality (Source: TwoTrees)

Cost of material

The cost of materials is one of the most significant factors to consider when calculating your 3D printing costs. Depending on the project you're working on, you may need to use different types of plastics. Each type comes with its own cost per unit. In addition, you'll need to consider any waste or scrap material that is generated during the printing process, as this can also contribute to your overall material costs.

To manage your material costs, consider working with suppliers who offer competitive pricing and discounts for bulk purchases. You may also want to consider using recycled or remanufactured materials where possible, as this can help you stand out as an environment-friendly manufacturer. 

While managing your material costs is important, it's also crucial to ensure that you're using high-quality materials that meet your client's expectations. This can help you build a reputation for producing high-quality work and attract more clients over time.

By managing your material costs and using high-quality materials, you can ensure that you're providing value to your clients while also maximizing your revenue potential.

3D Printing Filament
3D Printing Filament (Source: 3dnatives.com)

The difficulty of printed elements

The difficulty of the printed elements is another factor that can impact your 3D printing costs. This includes factors such as the complexity of the design, the size of the print, and the level of detail required.

More complex designs and ones that require a high level of detail or precision usually require more time which increases the price.

Adjusting your pricing based on the complexity of the project is needed because otherwise either the client will be paying too much for simple services or you will not be satisfied with your pay for more complex elements. 

Offering additional services such as design consultation or file preparation to help clients optimize their designs for 3D printing can be an advantage over the competition.

To manage the difficulty of printed elements, it's important to communicate with your clients and understand their expectations for the project. This can help you identify any potential challenges or complications early on and develop a plan to address them. It's important to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in 3D printing technology and techniques, as this can help you optimize your processes and improve your efficiency over time.

Considering the difficulty of printed elements and adjusting your pricing and services accordingly, you can ensure that you're providing value to your clients while also maximizing your revenue potential.

3D print of New York
3D print of New York (Source: cults3d.com)

Operating hours of machines and staff

The operating hours of your machines and staff can significantly impact your 3D printing costs. Depending on your business model, you may operate your machines 24/7. But what hours your staff will work?

Labor is a huge cost that has to be taken into consideration and optimized greatly. If everything is planned correctly, the staff won’t have to work very long hours.

To determine the optimal operating hours for your 3D printing business, consider your target market, the types of projects you typically take on, and the availability of your staff. You may also want to consider offering rush services for an additional fee to clients who need projects completed more quickly.

By thoroughly considering the operating hours of your machines and staff, you can optimize your 3D printing costs and maximize your revenue potential.

Printing Farm
Printing Farm (Source: LulzBot Twitter)

Rent, software, and repair of the machines

​​Rent, software, and repair costs can also impact your 3D printing service costs. When calculating your expenses, it's important to consider not only the cost of the raw materials and the time required to print each item but also the cost of maintaining and operating your equipment.

If you're renting your equipment, the rental fees will be an ongoing expense that you'll need to factor into your pricing. In addition, you'll need to consider the cost of software licenses and updates, as well as any repair or maintenance costs that may arise over time.

To manage these costs, it's important to establish a clear understanding of your expenses and build them into your pricing structure. This may include adjusting your pricing based on the amount of time required for maintenance and repairs or building in a margin to cover unexpected expenses. Additionally, you may want to consider investing in high-quality equipment and software to reduce the likelihood of breakdowns and minimize repair costs over time.

It's also important to factor in the time required for equipment maintenance and repairs when calculating your turnaround times for projects. If you need to take your equipment offline for maintenance or repairs, this can impact your ability to deliver projects on time and may require you to adjust your pricing or project timelines accordingly.

With careful management of your rent, software, and repair costs, you can ensure that you're providing value to your clients while also maintaining profitability and sustainability for your business.

3D printing costs per gram

A very useful way of managing your 3D printing costs is to calculate the printing costs per gram. This is one of the best rules of thumb to give quick price estimates to customers.
If you want to use a calculator that incorporates all these factors - 3D Printing Cost Calculator

3D Printing Cost Calculator
3D Printing Cost Calculator (Source: Quoter.ai)

How to give quotes to customers fast?

Quick response time is key to winning up to 50% of new business. But how can you do that considering all these important factors without overloading your sales team? Quoter.ai. Calculating 3D printing costs hasn’t been easier! 

With a high level of customization, you can tailor everything to your specific business and pricing. There is a 3D viewer that helps customers if they uploaded the right object and the direct price quoting lets them know whether you are in their budget range. 

Comparison of 3D printing and traditional prototyping methods

Interface of an instant 3D quoting system
Interface of an instant 3D quoting system (Source: quoter.ai)

Conclusion on pricing for your 3D printing service

When it comes to pricing your 3D printing services, there are a lot of factors to consider. Including just the cost of materials and the electricity used from the printers isn’t enough and it can be challenging to strike the right balance between profitability and affordability for your clients.

However, by carefully considering each of the factors outlined in this guide, you can develop a pricing structure that works for your business and provides value to your clients. This may include offering different pricing tiers based on the complexity or size of the project or developing additional services such as design consultation or post-processing to increase the perceived value of your services. 

Ultimately, the key to success in the 3D printing industry is to maintain a balance between affordability and profitability, while also delivering high-quality work that meets the needs of your clients. By staying up-to-date with the latest technology and techniques, and continually refining your pricing and services based on client feedback and industry trends, you can build a successful and sustainable 3D printing business that provides value to your clients and meets your own financial goals.

Setting these pricing models won’t be enough if you can’t give fast quotes to customers. You can do that without overloading your sales team with Quoter.ai - the highly customizable web plugin that offers everything a 3D printing business might need.