Why are 3D printing services so outrageously expensive?
 
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petesurfer
(@petesurfer)
New Member
Why are 3D printing services so outrageously expensive?

Good afternoon, 

I've just bought a Prusa MK3s+ and I'm starting with my first prints. My long-term aim of getting into 3d printing is to be able to tidy a huge amount of DIY tools and small accesories I have (drill bits, screws, etc...) using Alexander Chappel's great stackable assortment boxes.

Given that it's going to be an insane amount of tiny boxes to print (more than 100 for sure). I was planning on working out the correct prototype that suits me with my Prusa printer, and then maybe offload the great majority of the printing to a third party service (to speed up the process). I would use my printer for very specific size boxes, one-offs, etc....but at least 95% of the job would be done elsewhere.

I'm asking for quotes on tons of different online 3D printing services, and they are all giving outrageous prices....more than 30USD/EUR for a tiny 5cmx5cm box....

I'm just curious, is there no economy of scale in these services? How can it be that it's so extremely expensive that printing just 30 boxes already covers the cost of a new Prusa Printer....? Are these companies charging crazy margins or is 3D printing with industrial level printers just not very scalable?

I'm just so surprised of the high prices.
Thanks!

 

This topic was modified 4 months ago by petesurfer
Posted : 23/04/2022 7:20 pm
MysDawg liked
bobstro
(@bobstro)
Illustrious Member
RE:

3D printing makes sense for small runs of bespoke parts. It will never have the economies of scale as injection molding. A lot of what you're paying for is no doubt operator setup and time. 

I'd recommend printing it all yourself. Sure, it takes a while, but you get a hell of a sense of satisfaction when it's all done. That deferred gratification should offset any immediate satisfaction of installing somebody else's work to customize your DIY/Maker setup. Plus you can then brag about how 3D printing saved you hundreds or thousands over a commercial equivalent. 😀 😀 You'll also benefit from not fretting about matching future prints if you expand or change your preferences in a few years.

I've done this myself with a set of custom desk drawer inserts and over 400 1:00 scale tabletop miniatures. 

My notes and disclaimers on 3D printing

and miscellaneous other tech projects
He is intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two dimensional thinking. -- Spock in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan

Posted : 23/04/2022 8:19 pm
Peter H liked
petesurfer
(@petesurfer)
New Member
Topic starter answered:
RE:

Thank you so much for the response Bobstro! As I do see the satisfaction of printing one-offs or specific prints I still fail to see the satisfaction of printing 100's units of the same model, and would happily have it done (as long as the design of the model is mine and have control over it). I'm still extremely surprised to learn it's cheaper to print it oneself at home with a hobbyist 3D printer than to have it done by others with high-grade industrial 3D pinters...well I will have to resign to that scenario then. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my post!

This post was modified 4 months ago by petesurfer
Posted : 24/04/2022 1:06 pm
MysDawg
(@mysdawg)
Estimable Member
RE: Why are 3D printing services so outrageously expensive?

I still view this as a hobby and enjoy the designing and production aspects.

That being said, sometimes it just makes sense to go buy what you need versus trying to print it.

Posted : 24/04/2022 3:37 pm
sylviatrilling
(@sylviatrilling)
Honorable Member
RE: Why are 3D printing services so outrageously expensive?

Have you tried this service? https://www.gallerymarkw.com/

This is a company run by Mark Wheadon, who is a member of our Prusa community and might be less pricey. 

Mk3S+,SL1S

Posted : 24/04/2022 3:48 pm
Netpackrat
(@netpackrat)
Estimable Member
RE: Why are 3D printing services so outrageously expensive?

If the prices you are being quoted by different services in a competitive marketplace are comparable, then they probably are not outrageous.  You alluded to the reason yourself, the drudgery of making hundreds of prints of similar or identical models.  Somebody has to set up the machines, babysit them, hopefully do quality control, package and ship, while still turning enough of a profit to make the whole venture worthwhile.

I designed and printed a neat little case for use at work last week.  Have had a number of requests from co-workers to purchase them, but the thing is, it's nearly 4 hours of print time, and I have to purchase more hardware if I want to make more of them.  When I mentioned what I would have to charge to make it worth doing, pretty much everyone who'd expressed interest said to forget it.  What I think I am going to do is make a set of them and just give them to the guys on my own crew as a team morale thing. Which may annoy one of the other leads who asked about one, but unless the company asks me to make a bunch and is willing to pay for them, I'm not going to make them for everyone just out of the goodness of my heart.

Posted : 24/04/2022 10:57 pm
John Doe
(@john-doe-3)
Estimable Member
RE: Why are 3D printing services so outrageously expensive?

You could offer in your company, that you would bring it to work, if company would pay for filament (+electricity). And print during work in a safe way (printer locked so cannot be tempered or stolen).

And in your work print also for your own time. Like 4 hours box for colleague, rest for you and also midnight... 

Posted : 25/04/2022 6:29 am
Same Old Shane
(@same-old-shane)
Admin
RE: Why are 3D printing services so outrageously expensive?

On my own time, I ran a small print service, and it can be a bit of work. I would shop around etsy and find people who were printing the sort of things that I would offer to do to get a base price of what individuals were charging and then I would take some sort of example model and go to the prusa price calculator and upload a sliced Gcode, input some values and see what I could do it for. 

https://blog.prusa3d.com/3d-printing-price-calculator_38905/

@bobstro did give some good points on this as well, and one other thing if you printed out some yourself you could then shop them around and see what the interest is at first so you are not sinking a good bit of time and resources into something that might (not trying to play devils advocate here) not sell as well. Also you might be able to do a little research and see if you could try and design it so it could print faster with some alterations... like say for both of those trays, if you are inserting little boxes into them then maybe have the tray with no top and bottom layers and just have it as infill (just a random example)? 

But I would suggest putting it through the calculator and see what numbers it comes up with. One of the hardest thing is to try and figure out just what your own time is worth and what markups you want. It should give you a general idea, but also those places that are quoting you prices, are also companies that are trying to make a living as well. Some could be very high, you might get lucky and find others more reasonable. 

Shane (AKA FromPrusa)

Posted : 25/04/2022 7:41 am
Lukasz
(@lukasz-3)
New Member
RE: Why are 3D printing services so outrageously expensive?

I can't tell why the 3d printing services companies charge what they do exactly. However, a while ago I was considering offering prototyping services with 3d printing as one of the processes offered. I spent some time thinking what to charge to be profitable and I realised for 3d printing there has to be fairly high per part surcharge (regardless of part size). The reason is that first one has to spend some time to review the model, slice it etc - the amount of this time is not trivial (half an hour?) and if one has multiple types of printers it has to be done per printer type (in case of large number of prints). Then there is cost of time to setup, remove the print. The possibility of failure one has to account for.

And the above is before any running costs (per hour) are considered.

All this depends on the per hour labour rates in the part of the world where the service is located. So if looking at services in EU or US I'm not altogether surprised by the prices you mentioned.

Posted : 25/04/2022 8:57 am
Netpackrat
(@netpackrat)
Estimable Member
RE: Why are 3D printing services so outrageously expensive?

Not saying this is what happened with the OP, but there's also such a thing as a "F--- off" or "nuisance" quote.  Sometimes an operation which is running at or close to capacity with an established clientele, will quote an exorbitant price to somebody who is not seen as likely to be a repeat client with a relatively small and/or one time order.  Yes, they will happily do the work for the nuisance price if the client agrees, but the expectation is that you will F--- off so they can get back to whatever is their bread and butter.

Posted : 25/04/2022 10:24 am
Netpackrat
(@netpackrat)
Estimable Member
RE:

 

Posted by: @john-doe-3

You could offer in your company, that you would bring it to work, if company would pay for filament (+electricity). And print during work in a safe way (printer locked so cannot be tempered or stolen).

And in your work print also for your own time. Like 4 hours box for colleague, rest for you and also midnight... 

Not really worth the effort at this point for what's basically a trinket I made for my own use.  It's enough for now that they learn I have another arrow in the quiver.  It was not so long ago that I got a call from work on my day off because they needed a pair of tools RFN that were going to take days to arrive through normal channels.  I spent basically an entire day reverse engineering the things and then producing them on my mill.  My workshop is a hobby shop but they paid for a substantial portion of the cost of my Bridgeport that day.

As a matter of fact, I think anyone on one of the other shifts is going to get quoted the F--- off price if they ask again.  😀 

Posted : 25/04/2022 10:38 am
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