How Much Does 3D Printing Cost?

Written by: Staff

3D printing can be done in various ways.  Whether you want to print a ring or even a coffee mug, if you can put your thoughts on paper, it can be printed.

A 3D printer will first need a digital file (.stl file) so it can print your item successful.  Using many kinds of materials, hundreds of layers will then be printed as per the software to create your project.

3D Printing in Progress by mikecogh, on Flickr
3D Printing in Progress” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  mikecogh

 How much does a 3D printing service cost?

The cost of 3D printing will greatly depend on the materials being used, but the labor involved (if the item has to be finished/painted), the amount of space the product takes in the printer and the company you choose will also affect the cost as well.  Companies will often charge by the cubic centimeter (cm3) and/or weight combined, plus a small charge for the item, and smaller things, of course, will be cheaper than a bigger item.  The average cost, if you know your measurements, will be about $0.02 to $0.10 per cubic centimeter.

We reached out to a few 3D printing companies and added the quotes we received in our table below.

Type of ItemThe Quote We Recieved
Card Holder- Plastic: $70 to $150
- Stainless Steel: $155
- Brass: $400
- Copper: $475
- Sterling Silver: $800
- Titanium: $665
Bow Tie- Plastic: $20 to $40
- Stainless Steel: $65
- Brass: $250
- Copper: $250
- Gold: $6,100
- Sterling Silver: $450
- Titanium: $450
Size 9 Ring- Plastic: $9 to $20
- Stainless Steel: $17
- Titanium: $145
iPhone Case- Plastic: $6 to $40
- Sterling Silver: $1,000
- Silver: $2,400
- Platinum: $5,500
- Yellow Gold: $6,000
Coffee Cup- Plastic: $50 to $240
- Silver: $1,000
- Sterling Silver: $20,000
- Platinum: $115,000
- Yellow Gold: $125,000

To get an exact price, offers a comparison service, and this is a great way to see exactly what you could pay for something you want to print. To get multiple quotes, the service asks that you upload an STL file, and once uploaded, the market will show you over 150 variations, along with the actual prices of the printing services.

At select UPS stores, for instance, they offer 3D printing for its customers, with prices ranging from as little as $60 for a phone case to $300+ for a human bone replica.

3D printing, if you were to want to do it at home, could cost anywhere from $220 to $2,200 for just the printer.  This printer will be much different than a commercial-based printer since it’s designed for the average hobbyist.  This wouldn’t include the cost of materials to create your item.  A 2.20-pound spool of solid white PLA can cost about $20, for instance.         

What are the extra costs?

If you don’t want to use a basic 3D design you found online, then you may have to hire someone to create a file for you if you don’t know how.  However, there are some websites you can browse for free designs to help offset this cost.  If you still want something unique, then the cost of the design will really depend on the complexity and the professional you hire.

Adding a finish and/or painting, aside from the default finish, can increase the costs, depending on the type of finish you want.  An acetone finish, for example, can polish your item, but since these finishes are done manually most of the time, it can double your costs.  The same can be said about adding a paint color.

Depending on the service you choose, some may allow you to expedite your order for a fee.  Depending on the size of the order, the expedited pricing can be all over the place, but if the item were small and created from plastic, for instance, then the expedited shipping could be another $20 to $40.  If you choose the standard delivery time, it can take anywhere from as little as two days for a plastic model to as long as 30 days for an item made from sterling silver.

As noted, if you were to print at home, you will need 3D printing materials known as filaments.  The price of these filaments will depend on the weight, quality, color, diameter and the type, with most prices ranging from as little as $10 to $100 per spool.  The most common types you will find will include PLA or ABS.

Also, if you were to print from home, 3D modeling software will be a requirement in order to create your designs.  Depending on the type of software you want, the costs can range from as little as nothing for open-based software to well into the hundreds for a premium brand.

How can I save money?

Most services will offer bulk discounts if you purchase more than one of the same item.  Since most of the work is involved in the setup, it’s much easier for a company to print multiple objects at the same time.

If you plan on doing a lot of 3D printing, you may want to consider buying your own 3D printer since the investment will pay off over time.  By purchasing your own printer, you can avoid the service and shipping fees.

The material, as mentioned, will be the greatest factor when creating an item.  Any precious metals will always be much more than a plastic or ceramic-based mold.   As you can see inside our table, an ABS or PLA plastic alone could be 10 to 100 times less than gold or platinum.

While bigger may seem better, the larger the item, the more it’s going to cost.  By creating a smaller item, the less material it will require, effectively lowering the cost.

Reduce the number of materials you need by choosing a hollowing tool with most companies.  As the name implies, your item will still look the same from the outside; however, the inside will be hollow, reducing the number of materials that are required.

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Average Reported Cost: $240

100 %
0 %
Less Expensive $1 $1.5K $3K $5K $6.5K More Expensive $8k

How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. Forrest (greenbow,  Alabama) paid $240 and said:

    I love my plastic 3d-printed coffee cup. Best $240 I ever spent

    Was it worth it? Yes

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