You might have made your 3D printer available for hire, but are you able to provide accurate and rapid quotes for your services?
This is a devilish problem for independent 3D print operations attempting to market their services to keep their printers busy making profits: how to provide quotes for prospective clients.
Those starting out in such a business often take a manual approach: “email us your STL file and we’ll get back to you”.
While that approach works, it can result in loss of clients who can obtain real-time quotes for service elsewhere. If a customer has several ready-to-go quotes, some of which might be acceptable, why would they wait for hours or even days for the email quote to return? This is aggravated by time-sensitive situations, where the real-time quote would likely win.
Thus it is strongly in the best interest of a 3D print operation to provide real-time service quotes.
Pricing 3D prints is a tricky business, because it must account for a variety of factors:
- Volume of material used in the requested print
- Volume of support material required by the requested print
- Amount of printer volume occupied by the print (more efficient print jobs would stack in many prints into a single job)
- Type of material(s) used in the print
- Post print processing required
Effective 3D print operations would want to look at least at these factors, if not several more. By optimizing them, the most profit can be made with the 3D printer.
What I’m suggesting here, is that pricing a print is not trivial. And even if you have a formula, you still have to implement it in code to have it actually appear on your website.
This is where Volumetrick comes in: they provide a completely free service to do exactly this.
As you can see at top, their service permits you to provide a real-time quote that includes pricing for a variety of materials.
Which materials? Their administrative functions permit you to manage the available materials as shown here.
Computation of the print price is interesting in that it includes the ability to create a unique mathematical formula to handle unusual geometries, as seen here.
You can watch how it works in their video:
I am slightly skeptical, however, because this extensive-looking service is provided at no charge! How on Earth do the keep this venture afloat? Volumetrick answers this question in their FAQ:
At the moment we are not looking for any money from this project. We just want people to use it and make this project bigger involving more people around and spreading the word about 3D printing and makers. All the founders of the project are big fans of the 3D printing movement and we want to be part of it. We have even designed and built our own 3D printers long ago. Take this as a free tool but if you want you can donate us some money :)
If you’re starting out with a 3D printing service business, you might want to consider trying out Volumetrick.