3D Printing Service, is it Worth it?

by Jake | Last Updated: June 17, 2021

One of the most common misconceptions about 3D printing is that you can simply turn on a 3D printer, print anything that you want, and shut it down. There’s a lot more to it than you think, which is why the importance of a 3D printing service comes in – especially if you’re a newcomer to the 3D printing world of the industry in general.

We want to go over 3D printing costs and what you’re being charged for when you hire a 3D printing service, to help you get a better idea of how you’re spending your money. In this article, we’ll be doing exactly that.

Learn what influences the cost of a 3D print, the general 3D printer price, and discover why it can be a bit expensive to get that little miniature printed and ready to go with our complete guide to 3D printing and 3D printer services!

What is a 3D Printing Service?

You may be thinking that 3D printing is as easy as buying your own printer and getting down to business, but that’s not the case. You will need to know how to properly set up a 3D printer, how to use a 3D printer, and how to work on the post-processing aspect of your prints before you can be truly satisfied with the results.

Enter a 3D Printing service.

Basically, 3D printing services serve the purpose of helping you print anything that you like with professional input, so you don’t have to waste materials or work on the grindy aspects of a print but rather cut straight to the chase.

More than Simply 3D Printing

Any 3D printing service that you choose will charge differently depending on the services that you’re asking them to perform. In most cases, these companies tend to offer services of post-processing to work on polishing and finishing 3D printed parts to have the items look as good as possible.

Naturally, you will be paying extra and the 3D printing cost will be higher, but the results will be better, which means that everything will be worth it. You get the point, right?

How Much Does 3D Printing Cost?

We know that this is the question that you came here looking for the answer to, but the price that you’ll be charged by a 3D printing service varies greatly. We can’t tell you exactly what you’ll be paying without looking at the model that you want to print, but we can tell you the factors that influence price so you can have a better idea of how much you’ll pay based on its features.

This is, of course, assuming that you want to work with a 3D printing service and not print on your own using your own 3D printer. If you’re opting for the latter, you may be more interested in how much is a 3D printer instead.

What is an Online 3D Printing Service?

There are many top-quality online 3D printer services that will allow you to upload your 3D models and get an instant quote on the price of your print. An online 3D printing service will allow you to have your 3D prints to be delivered straight to your home and streamline the process so you don’t even have to visit a physical location to have your project ready.

There really are a lot of businesses that identify as a printing service, but you need to find one that suits your needs and doesn’t charge a ton to ship to your location. An online 3D printing service is not hard to find, so be sure to pick an online service in your area.

What Determines 3D Printing Costs? – Our Guide to 3D Printing Pricing

There are many factors that influence the total cost of a 3D printed part, starting with the 3D models that you intend to turn into reality. The size and complexity of a print will be the main factors used to determine its total cost, as the 3D printing service will ultimately have to perform post-processing operations on the 3D printed item that elevate the total cost exponentially depending on its complexity.

Let us take a closer overview of each of the factors that influences the total cost, and let us then analyze how much is a 3D printer so you can compare expenses before making a decision.

The 3D Model and How It Looks

The main factor that will determine the total price that you’ll pay for a 3D print is determined by the size of the 3D model that you’re looking to print, as well as how complex it actually is. Not only will it take more time for a printer to print a complex model, but the post-processing will also be more demanding, hence the higher price.

  • 3D Model Size – The actual size of a 3D print is determined by its total volume. More volume equals more material consumption as well as more printing time, which, on its own, equals a higher price.
  • 3D Printing Complexity – Smoothing and post-processing a relatively simple model won’t take too long – especially if done by an expert. However, even a handcraft savant will struggle to work on a print with dozens upon dozens of complex shapes. Complexity often determines the price you’ll pay for manpower, should you choose to ask the 3D printing service to post-process the print for you.

Price of Operating the 3D Printer

We’re going to talk about this particular point just so you don’t get screwed over when looking for the best 3D printing service. If you ever hear that you’re being charged more because of the total electricity output that is required to operate a printer, then you’re basically being scammed.

You may think that operating a powerful 3D printer would cost the 3D printing service a significant amount of cash, but that’s not true. In fact, costs me be as low as just $0.3 to $0.7 per hour.

There are exceptions to this, of course. If your project is massive and it’s going to take the 3D printing service weeks to print, there’s going to be a noticeable charge on your receipt!

3D Printing Materials Used

The total cost of printing a 3D printed part will also be determined by the 3D printing material used to print it. Higher-quality materials produce much better and refined prints, while lower-quality materials may be less resistant and require more smoothing, but they are also much cheaper.

You should always take into consideration the materials available at a 3D printing service before opting to get a 3D model ordered. 3D printing materials vary, but the best 3D printing materials that you should find in most 3D printing services are:

  • Filaments (Cheap)
  • Resin (Expensive)

Using 3D printing material like PLA, Flex, woodfill, ABS, resins, or hybrids make your print look different and serve different purposes. Be sure to know what’s best for your print before having it delivered to a 3D printing service.

Brand & Material Quality

Materials can be rather inexpensive depending on where they’re bought from. Filament prints can get to a point where they are more expensive than a resin print (unlikely, but it depends on the 3D printing service).

High-quality 3D prints are dependant on the material and the brand of the material used. The 3D printing technologies used by 3D printing services often require expensive materials to produce the best results.

Why the Infill Matters

3D printing services may charge you extra money if the 3D printed part that you’re looking to print has a lot of infills. Depending on how many parts of your print require additional material to be used on its inside, the cost may increase significantly.

The size of your print will increase its price, but a large print with little infill will theoretically be rather inexpensive to print. On the contrary, a smaller print with a ton of infill will usually be expensive – especially if you’re printing the entire project using an expensive material like resin.

Manpower Cost

A 3D printing service must also account for the costs of paying their working personnel, which of course increases the total price that you’ll have to pay for your print. In fact, manpower costs also take into consideration post-processing costs, as they are basically two apples fallen out of the same tree.

Post-Processing

There are two processes of a 3D printing service that you should also consider, which are:

  • Polishing
  • Finishing

Any reputable company that aims to produce the best 3D printed parts will have to work on polishing and finishing after the print is done. That, of course, adds to the total costs of the operation!

Margin/Profit Margin

3D printer services are there to help you print, but they’re mostly there for a profit. Remember that the 3D printing technologies found in these services tend to produce the best 3D printed parts, often better than the 3D printed parts that you can make with your home printer.

This is not always the case, though. The point at which we find the best 3D printing technologies that you can buy for your home is fantastic. In fact, the point at which 3D printing technologies have advanced makes it viable for you to produce professional assets from home.

When hiring a 3D printing service, they’ll be charging extra to make a profit – keep that in mind!

Why are 3D Printing Services so Expensive?

On top of all of the reasons that we have mentioned above, there’s another crucial reason that makes a 3D printing service far more expensive than it is to print your own stuff at home. A 3D printing service will usually print your stuff in industrial-grade printers, which can be extremely expensive.

Imagine if one of those printers needs to have some of its parts replaced. If that happens, they need to be able to recoup the rather expensive costs, and this is all factored into the total price equation.

Learn How to Save Money: How Much is a 3D Printer?

You can also opt to save cash but learn the crafts of 3D printing yourself, which is always a great long-term investment if you’re going to be committing a lot of time to 3D printing. You can check out our guide of the best 3D printers to buy for under $200 if you’re looking to get started without overspending.

You won’t only need to buy a 3D printer to save money, though. If you want your 3D model and prints to be as good as can be, you’ll also want to do a couple of other things:

  • Learn about 3D printing in general as well as specifics like extruder calibration, print smoothing.
  • Calculate your costs taking everything into consideration, not just the 3D printer itself. Learn about the price of materials, the power it’ll take for you to print, and other things that could increase the total cost
  • Become good at post-processing. It’ll take practice, but the post-processing aspect of 3D printing is partly why 3D printing services are so expensive!

If you’re going to buy a 3D printer to avoid 3D printing service costs and save yourself some cash, then we have the best solution for you: the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k.

Why We’ve Chosen the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k

The Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k is really easy to set up, easy to use, and extremely effective when compared to other 3D printers – not to mention that it’s also extremely affordable! This is the go-to choice that we recommend our readers to buy if you want a fantastic home 3D printer to avoid paying for a 3D printing service and get your printing done at home.

Pros:

  • 4k Resolution Prints
  • Really easy to use and set up
  • Takes little space to store and even less to keep it installed

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work for printing large projects given its size

Are 3D Printing Services Worth it?

The modern world allows us to choose plenty of options when we decide to create a quality 3D print. Be it by purchasing 3D printers ourselves or hiring an expert 3D printing service, it’s easy to end up with a quality 3D print in our hands.

If you choose to hire a 3D printing service, remember that you can choose to visit a physical establishment that produces quality 3D prints, or you can with an online 3D printing service and have everything done for you.

Regardless of what you choose, there’s always going to be an option that brings you the most comfort. Take costs into account and be sure to spend on a quality 3D printer if you opt to do it all from your home!