I get asked this question more and more frequently. It’s becoming common for people to buy 3D Printed parts by paying a price for their parts based upon the cubic inches of material used to make them. The problem I see with this is that no other factors that ultimately determine the real cost of 3D Printing the parts are taken into consideration. As a result the per cubic inch price is really nothing more than a rough ballpark estimate and should never be considered the true final price.
Think about it this way, if your part needs 1 cubic inch of material to make and is a flat rectangular shape it will ultimately take less time to 3D Print than if it was a tall part that needed to be printed in the Z axis (vertically). It could take 3 or 4 times or even longer to print the second part as the first part so how could they possibly cost the same? Realistically they don’t and since most 3D Printing Service Bureau’s and online 3D Printing providers will be basing their per cubic inch costs on worst case scenario printing situations, many who have something 3D Printed by them are being over charged!
Below are a few examples. The costs per cubic inch of model and support material were figured on 3D Printing the parts and removing the support material, no other 2nd operations were considered. The same material and 3D Printer settings were used on each of the parts so all things are equal other than part geometry.
This Housing Half comes out at a price of $62 per cubic inch of model material and support material.
This Connector comes out at a price of $145 per cubic inch of model material and support material.
This Electronic Housing comes out at a price of $46 per cubic inch of model material and support material.
You can see from the examples above that the cost per cubic inch can vary widely even when all other things are equal. To me it makes no sense to quote or purchase 3D Printed parts based on cubic inches of material, you are simply going to pay too much. In the examples above, if the high end cost per cubic inch of $145 was used to determine costs on the Electronic Housing, the customer would have paid almost 3 times the fair price.
Does 3D Accuracy provide 3D Printing quotations based upon cubic inches of material alone? Definitely not!
Have a terrific weekend!