Preisberechnung Jellypipe 3D-Druckservice

3D printing prices: which factors have an impact on costs?

What does a component with external dimensions of 100 x 50 x 25 mm made of PA12 cost? Or: What does 3D printing cost "in general"? We often receive these and similar inquiries. With a 3D print file it is simple, using sophisticated formulas the prices can be calculated in our configurator within seconds. Without a file, however, important information that influences the price is very often missing. Learn more about how 3D printed parts are priced.

If someone just wants to know what 3D printing "generally costs", then it should quickly become clear that no serious price calculation can be made with imprecise information. On the other hand, it is understandable that a price scale gives an indication to estimate whether the effort for a new design is worth it. In this blog post you will learn more about pricing and influencing factors. So in the future, you'll be able to (even better) estimate when 3D printing is worth it.


What influences the price of 3D printed workpieces?


There are many factors that influence 3D printing part costs. The basis - as in conventional manufacturing - are costs for the purchase of the machine, materials used and labor costs. The energy input has a very small share. But there are other factors that influence the costs.

3D-Drucker Metall Laser Sintering

Machines, 3D printers: cost/risk

In 3D printing, the purchase of the machines for powder bed-based processes such as SLM and SLS in particular is very cost-intensive. In addition, the technology is changing rapidly, which entails a certain investment risk.

Jellypipe Metall 3D-Druck Bauteil Ultrafuse 17-4 PH

3D printing materials: the more sophisticated, the more expensive

When it comes to the materials used, metals are quite a bit more expensive than plastics. Metals still have to be cured after the printing process, as in FDM metal, for example, which increases the expense. Plastics with very demanding, technical properties are more expensive than the comparable standard plastics. For example, temperature-resistant materials (ULTEM, PA-GF), chemical-resistant or UV-resistant (ASA) materials.

Workload: great impact

When it comes to the workload, the processing steps after the 3D printing process come into play. Not everything can be done by machine. Components must be freed from powder residues after 3D printing in the powder bedding processes. Any support structures must be removed. Depending on the requirements for tolerances, surface quality, etc., finishing operations such as grinding, painting, coloring or chemical smoothing are necessary.

Image: PA12 components fresh from the 3D print bed with material powder

Windräder im Meer - Symbol für Energie

Energy expenditure: low

The cost of electricity and energy is hardly significant for additively manufactured components at about 2-3% of the variable cost of the entire workpiece.(Source)

Design and process: relevant factors for 3D printing costs

In addition to the basic costs, other factors play a significant role. These are the complexity of the component, the volume, the selected technology, the surface finish, tolerances and post-processing.

Ingenieur konstruiert am PC

The complexity of the 3D printed part

Why the complexity of a part has an impact on cost is not immediately obvious. After all, a 3D printer can produce almost any shape? This is true in principle.

However, additive manufacturing with filaments requires support structures because it cannot print "in the air." Sloped parts that have an overhang angle smaller than 45° must be supported. Likewise, surfaces that protrude more than 20 mm above the rest of the component. These support structures must be removed by hand after production. Depending on the required surface finish, additional grinding may be necessary.

For metal 3D printed parts, the design of a part is even more critical to the cost. For metal parts, support structures must not only be printed in FDM 3D printing, but also in SLM. This is necessary because the metal powder cannot yet be compacted to such an extent in the printing process. Support structures can often be avoided with an appropriate design.

The complexity of the component also has an influence on how it must be aligned in the build space. Clever alignment can avoid support structures and/or optimize the quality of the surface at the important points. In addition, the alignment influences the number of components that can be accommodated in the installation space and thus the number of printing processes for series parts.

Information on design can be found here: Design for 3D printing in general, FDM metal, SLM metal.

The additive manufacturing technology chosen

Individual manufacturing methods require significantly less time in the printing process than others. Others, in turn, are more suitable for series components. The 3D printing technology selected is therefore a decisive factor for the price of components. This can be explained on the basis of the process categories.


3D Druck Filamente FDM

Filament-based 3D printing processes (extrusion and bonding).

The print head "traces" the entire component in individual layers. That is, the time required to produce a component is fixed. It does not matter whether a printer produces one or hundreds of the same component, the effort per component remains identical. The advantage, however, is that the component is finished immediately after printing and, if necessary, only support structures need to be removed. The removal of material powder in the powder bed-based processes can be more time-consuming under certain circumstances.

Technologies: FDM for plastics and metals (extrusion), binder jetting (bonding ).

Printprozess SLS additive Fertigungstechnologie

Powder bed-based additive manufacturing processes (fusing).

In a build space, the material is applied in powder form, layer by layer. One or more lasers are used to fuse the layers. In the newer printers, this is done by one exposure process per powder layer. Older printers have to trace the entire shape of the component, which takes a little more time.

If only one component were to be produced in a single operation, the effort required by the newer printers would be identical to filling the build area with 50 pieces of the same component. Applying the individual powder bed layers and exposing them always takes the same amount of time.

However, the shape of a component plays an important role in this process, especially in series production. The amount of space used in the build area is relevant, as is the number of build areas that have to be processed. Cooling of the powder bed after production takes up to 24 h to ensure that the components do not show any distortion.

Well "stackable" components fit in a larger quantity in a build space. This reduces the number of printing operations (and the time required) compared to components that have a large volume and are hollow inside, e.g. balls or spherical structures. Therefore, components with identical material volume are more expensive if they are not easily stackable.

Technologies: SLS, SAF, MJF, SLM (metals), DMP (metals).


Images: A component that stacks well. Due to its shape, the ball requires a relatively large amount of space in the build envelope, and thus more build space for a larger series with the same number than a stackable component that is identical in volume.

3D-Druck Material ABS Technologie FDM Jellypipe 1
Jellypipe Werbegeschenk 3D gedruckter Ball, PA11, SAF
Stereolithography SLA 3D print process

Polymerization process

In polymerization processes, liquid resins are cured in a moving basin by means of a laser. With SLA, this process takes place step by step. In contrast, with DLP, the resin is cured simultaneously over the entire print area; it is therefore much faster than SLA. As a result, components made with DLP technology are less expensive and very suitable for series production.

Technologies: SLA, DLP, MJM, CJP

And how is the price calculated?

Jellypipe 3D-Druckservice: Bauteil im Konfigurator

Based on all listed factors, the price of components is calculated. In the Jellypipe configurator, this is done within seconds using sophisticated formulas. This is possible because the 3D print file, together with the technology/material combination and the post-processing method, contains all the factors for calculating the price.

The price is determined based on:

  • Material and certifications: the higher technical properties required, the more expensive.
  • Additive manufacturing technology used: series components made of plastic are especially recommended from DLP or SAF; for metals, FDM is cheaper than SLM
  • Post-processing: all work performed after printing such as removing support structures, curing metals, painting the surface, chemically smoothing, grinding, etc. affect the price
  • Complexity of the part. If the alignment in the build space is relevant, these can be well "stacked", the total volume, corners, edges on the part
  • Utilization of the printer: influences price/delivery time ratio
  • Offers from the various manufacturers (in the Jellypipe configurator)

Pricing without 3D print file: the individual request

Jellypipe individuelle Anfrage für 3D-Druck Projekte

If no 3D print file is available, you should provide as much information as possible so that a quote can be created. On the Jellypipe platform you can do this via "individual request". The following information is necessary:

  • Is the component a single part or is series production planned?
  • What properties must the component have? E.g. chemically resistant, certain color etc.?
  • Does the component have to withstand a special environmental condition? E.g. will it be immersed in liquids etc.?
  • What material is desired?
  • What technology is desired? (if known)
  • For existing components: which material has been used so far?
  • Attach existing data: existing component, photo, CAD file, 3D print file?

The more complete the information, the faster a quotation can be prepared, as no queries are necessary.

Conclusion and decision basis for 3D printing

When is 3D printing worthwhile compared to conventional technologies? With a few basic rules, it is usually relatively easy to decide, even before the price is known in detail!

3D printing is worthwhile in the following cases:

  • Complexity in the processing of workpieces can be massively reduced or eliminated
  • Non-optimal parts can be optimized with 3D printing
  • Parts produced by molds are only needed in small or medium quantities.
  • Components produced using molds are needed over a very long period of time (is the investment in the mold worth it, or is there a possibility that the component will suddenly need to be changed?)
  • Parts need to be adapted and changed frequently
  • Customizable, tailor-made parts
  • Spare parts are no longer available
  • Delivery times in conventional production are too long
  • Assembly steps can be saved

Are you unsure? Talk to one of our Solution Partners. The complexity of 3D printing is high. But our professionals can give you the decisive tips so that 3D printing is also worthwhile for your project.

Your Jellypipe Team


Yvonne Gredig
Chief Marketing Officer

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