Can you save money by 3D-printing?

3D printing

I have been 3D-printing for 7 months. At first, it was great to tinker with the 3D-printer. The printer was running almost all the time. Now things have developed in a way that I usually print once or twice a week. I have had an assumption that 3D-printing is cheaper than actually buying things. Let’s do some calculation if you can save money by 3D-printing.

I will list things that I have printed from and search for comparable products, I use Amazon cause there is the widest selection of products that I know. I have been using PLA-plastic filament, ordered from for 12.5€ ($13.6) / kg. Postage from Poland was 15€, I ordered 3 kg of filament so final price for kg was 17.5€. To calculate usage of plastic I use information provided by Cura slicer.

Headphone Stand

Amazon Price: $5.49

Weight: 84g

3D-printed price: $1.53

Double Edge Shaver

Amazon price: $19.79

Weight: 21g

3D-printed price: $0.38

Self-Watering Planter

Amazon price: $16.99

Weight: 183g

3D-printed price: $3.35

Small items organizer

Amazon price: $17.99

Weight: 343g

3D-printed price: $6.28


Amazon price: $5.12

Weight: 26g

3D-printed price: $0.47

Raspberry Pi case

Amazon price: $7.75

Weight: 42g

3D-printed price: $0.76

Canon lens hood

Amazon price: $22.88

Weight: 13g

3D-printed price: $0.23

Card Wallet

Amazon price: $14.95

Weight: 16g

3D-printed price: $0.3


Total price from Amazon: $110.96

Total price for printed: $13.3
Saving: $97.66 = 88%

In theory, If you print one thing per week. The middle price of an item from Amazon is $13.87 and the 3D-printed item is $1.66. This way you would save a $635 per year if you 3D-print instead of buying from Amazon. The thing that I did not include into the calculations, are the postage fees when you order from Amazon, this means that the difference could be even bigger.

Although 3D-printing is a way to save money it’s not always easy. 3D-printers are sensitive to faults, the prints do not always come out good and the printer can also clog. The print speed is an issue that should be also mentioned. Printing can take from minutes to hours depending on the size of an object.

Maybe in the future, when 3D-printers evolve more reliable and popular, the benefits are more obvious. 3D-printing can be the way we make our products in the future.

If you want to check my designs in Thingiverse you can find them here.


Originally posted 2017-04-02 12:44:40.

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