Pricing prints when printing for profit?

For those that print for money, how do you price out what you are printing? Flat fee, or do you do a flat base fee and then calculate for the amount of filament & electricity used?

I calculated the flat fee according consumption of filament and electricity, plus the pay off for the machine and maintenance parts, plus profit. Today its 5€ an hour, PLA, PETG, maybe ABS/ASA if the model allows it and if you give me a decent STL off course.

However, I don’t see a good profitable business in this. Lets say you can run your printer 10h a day. You’ll need almost 10 printers to have around 500€ a day. From that 500€ all your costs need to be deducted like rent, electricity, filament, printers, insurances, IT materials, office supplies, car/transport, phone/internet services etc and finally your wage, social security and the fun one, taxes.

Keeping 10 printers running with all separate orders like cookie cutters and key chains is going to keep you ridiculously occupied with answering emails, sending out shipments, making quotes…

So try to find your niche. What are you doing today and look around on what would be handy to implement a 3d printed part. Design it and make those for profit.

I’m a construction engineer, I design and construct cell phone towers and steel structures. There’s actually many small fixations that are due for improvement and 3D printing is a very good tool to make fast and solid solutions. So that’s my niche (and don’t steel it :smiling_imp:). But from their it extends.

I’ll give you 2 examples.
Somebody came to me with a specific shower drain filter. He’s the janitor for a lot of student studio apartments and they are missing most of those filters causing clogs in the drainage pipes. The filters are nowhere to be found. The showers are all completely tiled so you can’t change the siphon without breaking open the tiles. It took me 2 hours to draw it up and each takes me 30 mins to print. I charge 20€ a pop, sold a first batch of 20 and another 20 a month later with more requests to come. The janitor is super happy as 20€ is nothing compared with the cost of having to break up and restore those showers.
One of my customers is an HVAC installation company. It happens constantly they need to replace a ventilation system, but the existing pipes don’t align with the new equipment. Just give me the 2 diameters, the height and distance on flat plane between the 2 centers and I’ll make you an adapter. I even split the adapter so you don’t need to dismantle anything. It’s literally a 1 minute installation. This takes me 30 mins to go from scratch to Gcode. The prints take around 4-6 hours. I ask 200€. The 200€ is nothing compared to spending 2 days, cutting, grinding, cursing, measuring, dismantling, fixing drywall or bricks.

In all industries there’s room for improvement and many mediocre solutions for comment issue’s are just there because there’s no proper alternative. From restaurants, carpenters, furniture makers, IT installers and so forth. Before 3D printing it was either ductape and tyraps or making an expensive designing around the existing solution. 3D printing fits perfectly in the middle where you show your client it saves a lot of money in manual labor and they are free in engineering their most practical approach without the constraints of what’s readily available.


Right now I’m doing an order of 120 pistol display holders (they go in the magazine well of a pistol) for a gun dealer. Kind of stumbled into the deal. $6 each which will net me a tidy profit even though I can only print so many at a time. Was considering starting up an Etsy store for some gun related accessories.

That’s indeed a good deal. I believe with a good slicing profile and a 0.6 or 0.8 nozzle each piece will take less than an hour. But even if it takes 2 hours, you have a big batch so that’s ok.
Now print 1 for all the gun dealers in your region and send it to them for free with a nice card and your contact. Maybe emboss their name or logo on it (this is something run of the mill stands don’t have) and expect more orders to come in.
I’m from Europe so we don’t have that gun culture, but this seems to be a good niche indeed as “gun people” seem to spend quite some money on all things related. And there’s probably already a million accessoires. But how many off these are easily customizable with their name and or fit their exact needs.
My “print business” is more of a hobby. I don’t need to make a living out of it, but I do want it to pay back itself. Maybe eventually it will earn enough to have a sustainable business. But I think this will only work from 20 something printers running 24/7 and having a help for packing and shipping etc.

Not sure an Ender 3 and a Voxellab Aquila (both with a NF Smart) can feed a 0.6 or 0.8 nozzle. Sadly, most of the gun stores around here are big corporate ones as well, I just happened to be lucky visiting my favorite one by my parents and his old printer was no longer making them.

I have not yet learned to control my income and expenses, sometimes I sell more than I spend and vice versa, if someone has already learned, I would like to listen