Jun.12, 2012

Guys from iheartrobotics.com made an interesting analysis of the use of 3D printing technology for manufacturing.

For finding out "if anyone would actually buy parts produced by a 3D printer or if it would only be useful for prototyping designs", they posted their designs on Shapeways and Thingiverse.

They chose Trik Tripod adapter for a cost analysis, assuming the 3D printer (Makerbot Thing-O-Matic) is used exclusively only for printing the parts.

- The Trik Tripod adapter is a small piece of plastic part used for mounting a Kinect 3D sensor on to a tripod.

From December 2010 to September 2011, they had sold a total quantity of 107 Trik Tripod adapters.

TriK Tripod Adapter Costs

  • $0.384 --8 grams Raw ABS Plastic
  • $0.0182 -1/4-20 Nut
  • $0.222 --Qty 4 Plastic thread forming screws
  • $0.124 --2 x 1 1/4 x 3" Kraft Reverse Tuck Carton
  • $0.015 --2 x 2" White Laser Label
  • $0.044 --3 x 5" 2 Mil White Block Reclosable Poly Bag
  • $3.75~ --NRE - Non-Reoccuring Engineering Costs
  • $0.50~ --Labor - Push button, remove part, repeat
  • $8.34~ --Printer operating cost

Total Cost $13.40/part

Among which, non-recurring engineering is calculated as $100 per hour for four hours of work designing the part, so one part costs $400; but if the sales is 107 pieces as they listed above then the cost per part is around $3.75.

Labor cost: It is estimated it will take 2 minutes per part at a cost of $15 per hour. So labor cost of one part is around $0.50.

Printer Operating costs consist of maintenance costs, power usage and real estate cost.

"Our maintenance costs for the Thing-O-Matic for nine months of moderate production use include $334.75 worth of replacement/spare parts.

The printer also requires about 2 hours a month in terms of repair and maintenance work fixing the extruder, tightening screws and belts and performing calibration. We are currently budgeting a cost of $20 per hour for this work.

Total maintenance cost is about $77.19 per month.

We used a watt meter to measure the power usage and determined that the printer should cost roughly $30/month to run 24/7. While this may not be exact, it seems like a reasonable estimate. For cost estimation we will assume the printer works an 8 hour shift and costs $10/month.

In NYC, real estate costs are generally a serious concern. We have a 2'x4' table for the 3D printer that holds the environmental chamber, laptop, parts and plastic. With an estimated real estate cost of $1.50/sqft/month, the printer needs to pay $12/month in rent."

(images credit: "I Heart Robotics")

TriK Tripod Adapter is sold in their shop for $19.95. The gross profit is 33%, but this figure is not included the amortization of the 3D printer ($1,299) and other equipment, or as they mentioned admin and market costs etc.

The sales "I Heart Robotics" had proves that people are willing to pay for useful 3D printed parts with reasonable quality and prices.

"I Heart Robotics" notes: "Overall our 3D printer appears to have been a good capital investment; over the course of the last year it's manufacturing capabilities have pretty much paid for itself."


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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