How Much Does a 3D Printing Service Cost?

(Source: Craftcloud)

How much will a 3D printing service charge you? How can you be sure you get the best price? Actually, you can save a lot of money, so read on.

One of the key benefits of 3D printing is the ability to produce customized products and complex geometries fast. The technology offers a design freedom that traditional manufacturing methods cannot achieve. Companies, clients, and individuals favor it for precision and accuracy, the relative simplicity of the process, and its ability to create intricately designed products faster.

The global additive manufacturing market size is growing: It was estimated to be around $17.99 billion to $21.78 billion in 2023. As the industry expands, more 3D printing services are available, and they boast a vast array of materials, techniques, and finishes.

But how much will they charge you? Are there price ranges you, as a customer, can benefit from?

How 3D Printing Services Calculate Their Prices

3D printed goods cost from $1 up to thousands of dollars. Also, factors such as model complexity, material, and labor affect the price of a 3D print.

If you order a print online, 3D printing service providers will calculate a price (which, by the way, is also a cost factor). Most of them will do this only after a forced registration. Only a few exceptions, like Craftcloud, will openly display the price structure for you to compare.

The prices are based on several factors, each contributing to the overall cost. Here are the key metrics:

  1. Material Costs: This is one of the most straightforward components of pricing. Different materials have different costs. For instance, standard plastics like PLA or ABS are cheaper than composites or metals. The amount of material used also affects the price, which includes not only the actual product but also any support structures needed during the printing process.
  2. Machine Operation Costs: Operating a 3D printer involves electricity and the depreciation of the printer itself. High-end printers that offer superior quality and speed tend to cost more to operate.
  3. Labor Costs: Although 3D printing is often automated, human oversight is required for setting up print jobs, post-processing (like sanding, coloring, or removing support structures), and quality control checks.
  4. Print Time: The time it takes to print an object can significantly impact cost. Longer print times tie up the printers for extended periods, thereby increasing the operational costs. Print speed can be adjusted, affecting both the quality and the cost.
  5. Post-Processing: Some prints require additional finishing touches after printing. This may include cleaning up support materials, surface finishing, painting, or other modifications. More complex post-processing steps will increase the cost.
  6. Complexity and Size of the Design: Complex designs that require intricate details or large sizes can increase the cost. Complexity may require more material, slower print speeds to capture details or additional post-processing work.
  7. Quantity: Printing multiple items at once can reduce the cost per unit due to efficiencies gained in batch production.
  8. Software and Design: Some services include the cost of using CAD software to create or modify designs, which can be factored into the pricing. Also, any online price calculation generates costs that need to be factored in.
  9. Urgency and Shipping: If a faster turnaround is required, it might increase the cost. Additionally, shipping costs depend on the size, weight, and destination of the final product.

Understanding these factors can help customers and businesses better anticipate the costs of 3D printing services and make more informed decisions about their projects.

How to Compare the Cost of 3D Printing Services

Manually collecting information from 3D printing services is tedious and repetitive work. Fortunately, 3D printing marketplaces, like Craftcloud, help you to compare hundreds of 3D printing service bureaus with just a few clicks.

Craftcloud greatly simplifies the process. It compares the prices of hundreds of the leading global services to find the one that best suits your needs.

Craftcloud also ensures quality by personally meeting and screening every printing partner during the onboarding process, with continuous evaluation of their performance. This approach guarantees full transparency: customers are informed about who is manufacturing their order, and partners are visibly recognized on the website. If you’re new to 3D printing and need guidance, Craftcloud offers recommendations to navigate the exciting possibilities of 3D printing.

How To Choose the Right 3D Printing Service

Let’s assume you have a clear understanding of the printing method and materials you want to print in, and you have uploaded your 3D design to Craftcloud.

You get a fully transparent price comparison of professional 3D printing services on Craftcloud.

But which 3D printing service should you choose? Craftcloud will give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

  1. Best Price: Of course, Craftcloud will find the lowest price offer from hundreds of professional 3D printing service bureaus.
  2. Recommendation: Craftcloud will provide you with a recommendation based on user feedback and experience.
  3. Quick Delivery option: For all who need their order urgently, this is the right option to choose.

If you want to drill deeper, you can also browse all offers worldwide. As you can see, Craftcloud will provide you with fully transparent information down to the shipping cost. As a client, you will not pay an additional fee, as Craftcloud gets a commission from the 3D printing service you choose.

If you want to try it out for yourself, please feel free to take the tour on Craftcloud directly.

When You Should Use a 3D Printing Service

It might seem straightforward to compare the cost of a service to a piece that you would 3D print yourself. Here are a few reasons why 3D printing services are more applicable:

  1. Get a professional product: Achieving a flawless print requires significant time, expertise, and machine maintenance. With a professional service, you’ll receive an impeccable print in any given material, not to mention the option of various additional finishes. Also, a 3D printing service will give you a replacement if the result is not to your liking.
  2. Have access to advanced technologies and materials: Printing with new and challenging materials isn’t as simple as just loading them and starting the print. Having a professional 3D printing specialist will save you from costly trial and error. Also, most advanced materials, such as full metal prints, are simply not available in consumer 3D printing.
  3. Iterate and produce faster: If you want to prototype fast, 3D printing is the proven choice. This does not only apply to one-offs. In recent years, 3D printing services have been able to produce bigger batches.