You’re probably new to this 3D printing thing, and you’re about to 3D print your first project. You’re probably wondering how you’ll go about it or how much it’ll cost you to 3D print your project. Are you about to start your 3D printing business, and you’re wondering how much you should charge for all 3D printing projects?

This article will walk you through what 3D printing is, the process involved, and how much it’ll cost to 3D print your project.

Table of Contents

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is a process of making solid objects from a three-dimensional model by laying down many layers of thin material on top of each other till the object is formed.

3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing.

Objects that are 3D printed are formed by using additive processes to lay materials successfully on each other until objects are solidified.

How does 3d printing work?

3D printing involves creating 3D models and 3D print the models, unlike subtractive manufacturing, which involves cutting metal or plastic using different machines till desired objects are formed,

3D printing starts with a 3D model; that is the concept. The 3D model is then designed using 3D software, or you can download it from an online library like Thinkerverse. 3D design can be done using software like Tinkercad, 3D slash, etc. If you are a beginner or a student, you can use  Tinkercad because it is designed in a friendly way to make designing easy for you.

The 3D design is then exported as a printable file like STL or OBJ, which works with 3D printers. The 3D designed is then sliced for printing. Slicing involves slicing the design into hundreds or thousands of layers using slicing software like Ultimaker Cura. Your design is then transferred to the printer via SD card, USB, or wifi.

After the object has been transferred to the printer, the printer prints the materials layer by layer till object is formed

What can be 3d printed?

Anything can be 3D printed. Products are ranging from consumer products, industrial products, prosthetics, dental products, movie props, ancient artifacts, replicas, architectural models, etc.

Benefits Of 3d Printing

Flexible Design

3D printing gives room for flexible designing of items. Unlike traditional manufacturing process that has limited designs due to the restrictions they have, with 3D, you can design anything and be rest assured that it’ll turn out exactly the way you have designed it.

No matter how complex the idea you have in your mind, you can design it using 3D software like Tinkercad, 3D slash, Unshape, or vision 360, and your idea will become a reality no matter how complex it is.

Rapid designing and production

With 3D printing, you can design in no time and start production immediately. The time it’ll take to produce your idea depends on how complex it is. There are also ready-made designs on Thinkerverse where you can get ideas on what you can print, in case you are out of ideas.

After designing your idea, it goes through the slicers so that it is converted into a language that the 3D printer understands. After this, you set up the machine for printing. The set-ups include setting the temperature, ensuring the printer’s nozzle is set perfectly against the print bed on every angle, preheating the print bed, and filling up the machine with the filaments you want to use.

Printing takes as long as how big or small the size of your item is. Printing needs little or no monitoring when it’s going on.

You can get the designing and printing of your idea done in hours, and you’ll have your end product immediately after printing is done.

Minimal wastage

With 3D printing, there’s little or no wastage at all. The right amount of filament is put into the machine to produce the item to be printed. Therefore, it’s environmentally friendly and causes a little hazard to the environment.


The cost of 3D printing is economical. Due to the single-step manufacturing process, only one machine is needed to 3D print, saving the cost of producing with multiple machines. Also, after the machine has been set-up and the design is ready for printing, there’s no need for an operator to be around to monitor the process till printing is done.

Materials used are usually the exact amount needed to print with little or no wastage. To reduce cost, you can also outsource your project to a company that does 3D printing. 3D printing machines can be very expensive, and if you can’t afford to buy one, you can save costs by outsourcing.

3D printing is environmentally friendly

The filaments used in 3D printing are environmentally friendly, and they are used in such a way that wastage is reduced, causing little harm to the environment.

Innovation in healthcare

3D printing has helped a lot in the healthcare sector. 3D printing has been useful in printing replicas of physical problems that are being tackled in the healthcare sector. You can 3D print the human heart, liver, lung, and even the whole part of the body system. This has helped medical practitioners in tackling serious health problems.

3D printing has helped in printing models for medical students to study human anatomy. This is related to 3D in improving the educational sector. This helps medical students to practice what they’re being taught.

Also, 3D printing has been used to create significant solutions in the healthcare sector—3D printing of affordable and stylish prosthetics to help people live better lives.

How long does 3D printing take?

3D printing can take a little time or a long time, depending on some factors. Beginning with the design, designing might take a long time depending on how complex the design is or which software you’re using to design. Tinkercad is easy to use because it is designed to be used by beginners and students, but others like 3D slash can be a little complex to use.

Without putting the design of the model into consideration, the time it’ll take to 3D print depends on the size, height, complexity of the model, and the printing technology used. So, you can calculate the time it’ll take to print your project depending on the factors stated.

How much does it cost to 3D print?

There have been many discussions online about how much 3D printing should cost or how to calculate the price for 3D printing something. The cost of 3D printing is dependent on the filaments used, the manpower, and the depreciation of hardware.

The most expensive aspects of 3D printing is the manpower and filament or resin used. So, if you’re planning to go 3D print your project or you want to run a 3D printing business, here are some things you should put into consideration:

• Material cost

• Manpower cost

• 3D printer operational cost

Material cost

The materials used for 3D printing varies depending on the type you want to use to print your project.

You can calculate material cost based on filament cost, filament weight, and model weight. You can calculate material cost this way: Filament price/filament weight(g)*model weight.

So, let’s say 1kg of filament costs 24.99 USD minus tax, and you bought 2kg, and the 3D model of your project weighs 200g, the material cost will be  4.9 USD, which can be rounded off to 5 USD. This is excluding other production costs that’ll be added to this.

Manpower cost

Manpower cost can be calculated per hourly rate. That means that the longer it takes to 3D print a project, the more expensive it becomes.

If you don’t have your project ready yet, the operator will have to design it for you or download the design from an online library, slice the design before it is then printed.

3D printer operational cost

Another thing to put into consideration is the printer operational cost. You can calculate the printing price when you put into consideration the printer price, the required investment return time per hour, and the time (per hour) it’ll take to print a project.

You may or may not consider electricity cost per hourly rate that will take the 3D printer to print a project.

The cost of 3D printing differs based on the individual running the business, but certain things are put into consideration when fixing a price for 3D printing a project. Apart from material cost, manpower cost, 3D operational cost, others might consider whether your project is the only project they’re handling at the moment or if they have other projects they’re working on. Some 3D printing companies also include margin costs like printing accident, loss of filament, or extra maintenance costs.


This article doesn’t specifically tell you how much 3D printing costs or how much you should charge for your 3D printing business. This article is just to guide you on how you can calculate and set the price for your business if you’re starting your 3D printing business or give you an overview of how much it’ll cost to 3D print a project if you have a project in mind to print. You can also get 3D printing cost calculators online to help you.