MakerBot Print is our newest print-prepration software, which supports native CAD files and STL assemblies,
allows you to interact with all your printers via the Cloud, and many other exciting new features.
I've been asked more and more recently if I can print something for someone. One case I was asked to create something and print and recently I was asked to print something that the person had designed. They ask how much do I owe you and I never know what is too little or too much. My average price I give is $20. I know it depends on time, how big, etc. but just want to see if anyone has a process for their charge rate.
Start with a spreadsheet like this.
Remember that if your intent is to make a profit, then free is not an option and time is the largest "expense"
I usually take the time into more of a consideration than the materials cost. Another method is to look at what the cost would be to print the part via a commercial 3D printing company/service, and determine if you want to come in under, at, or over that, as a means of checking your baseline price you come up with vs what is available from something like shapeways, stratasys, protolabs, et cetera For some people, they don't attach any value to their time. For others, time is the critical factor and vastly outpaces the materials costs. In my machine shop, my base rate is $90/hr. That's spindle time, not clock time. So if a part has a cycle time of 90 minutes, that is $135 + materials + finishing / post processing time. Everyone has their own ways of determining what their time and efforts are worth. There is no one "right" answer. You have to determine what works for YOU and charge appropriately. Then, you can see if you are competitive. I have also farmed out work that I couldn't do MYSELF at an economical scale, but can sub-contract out to someone with something which is better suited to the manufacturing method than what I have, and still deliver the product to my customer at a price they are happy with and I still earn income as well as who I sub-contracted out that part of the production.
Having done the math for all the previous mentioned factors, in my case it equates to twice the cost of the filament used just to produce the item, this includes hydro, cost averaging of footprint, etc. double that to get a wholesale price/friend price for your time and your machine's time, includes depreciation/wear and tear. Double it again to get a retail price. Comes out about the same as buying off the shelf, but with pride of makership... and you can make more than one. I did a spreadsheet that works along this line of thinking to figure it all out and whether this was doable as a business, for me it is not at this moment in my life. Cost does not include, packaging or time, effort and materials put into the rest of the mailing process, let alone marketing, advertising, building and maintaining a webpage, etc.
You have to factor in the cost of the filament plus electricity. Low temperature PLA will cost less than high temperature nylon. Is your machine running for three hours or over night? Did you spend a few hours designing a custom model or a few minutes to modify an existing model? Is the design for personal use or is it being sold?
For the current project I had to take is 3D model file and convert it to a 3D printable file, not too difficult. The print took 10 1/2 hours at 25% infill using PLA. I only charged him $10 knowing that he will use the first print to see if it will work, fit, need resizing, etc. Right now it's only about 71 mm high and 64 mm wide. He's designing something about a solar sensor and the item I'm printing will hold the sensors so the final print will have to be at least ABS with a higher infill. I'll probably charge about $20 for that one.