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What I did when I realized I was losing 50% – 70% of revenue with my 3D printing business and how I can help you

What do you do when you realize you’re underselling your services? That’s what happened to me early on in my career when I was running a 3D printing shop. It was a tremendous learning experience that led me to create a tool you can use to ensure it never happens to you.

During my first few years running one of my 3D printing service bureaus, my team and I received a request from a large company to manufacture 1,200 toys, each with a dozen parts. By far, it was one of the biggest orders we had ever received.

At the time, we were charging $0.90 per cubic centimeter printing in PLA. That’s how we quoted the company, and we won the job.

Fast forward to the project’s completion. After it was all said and done, we realized that, considering how large the job was, we should have priced 50% to 70% more than what we originally quoted. We lost out on a significant amount of money, and here’s how we came to that realization.

What we didn’t account for when pricing out the job

At the time we were using small desktop 3D printers and an SLS machine, and we bought the material in bulk which took a significant amount of set-up time that we didn’t account for.

Too often, we think of 3D printing as an automated process, and that’s not true at all. There’s still the manual time it takes to prep, slice, validate, think through how you need to plate up the part and pull it off the machine. None of that was taken into account when pricing for this project. It was a tremendous lesson for us to learn: never underestimate the human work and time that goes into running a 3D print job.

In addition to the human element, another aspect we overlooked was the cost of the software needed to properly execute the job. We were using a 3D file prep software to properly prepare files for the dozens of parts. We didn’t properly charge for that additional service, which was a mistake.

The solution I created for my problem

Losing out on that much profit made me realize that I needed to reevaluate not just the quoting process, but also how to account for the project workflow from start to finish. Ultimately, I started a company to help solve my problem.

That company is called MakerOS. We provide product development companies software to handle the specific needs and demands of an inbound 3D printing, fabrication, or design project from start to finish. In the process of creating our company, we spoke with dozens of 3D printing businesses on how they priced and created a formula that we’ve tested, iterated, and tweaked. Finally, years of hard work and dedication culminated in our latest tool, our a 3D printing pricing calculator.

The calculator accounts for various inputs including rent, human time, machine time, and more, to give a real baseline number for how much a business should price and, more importantly, how much they should profit from their hard work.

We’ve shown this to a handful of our current clients and have received very positive feedback. Many have expressed it’s something they wish they had when they first started their 3D printing business. In the back of my head, I’m thinking, “Me too – I wish I had this years ago!”

How my insights can help your 3D printing business

The 3D printing pricing calculator is just one of our tools that activates more profits and revenue for 3D printing businesses.

When thinking about how to optimize margins, the biggest factors include time and human costs. If you can cut down the time it takes your team to manage a project from start to finish – if you can reduce the time it takes to get from your client saying “I want this thing” to actually fabricating it to giving them the thing – your margins will increase.

MakerOS manages the client intake, the quoting and pricing, the project management, and the full delivery of the project, while all of that is communicated with the client during the entire development cycle of a project.

We’ve installed MakerOS with many different 3D fabrication shops all around the U.S, and from their feedback and talking to them about how they price projects, we’ve learned a tremendous amount of insight. We’ve got a really good top-down view of how the industry is not only pricing but how they’re being consultative with their clients and how profitable their businesses can be.

If you’re looking to ensure you’re not losing out on profits and how to better your 3D printing business, contact us to get started. We’ll walk you through everything. Your first 30 days with the MakerOS software is free.

About Mike Moceri

Mike has deep experience in manufacturing, design, and software. He’s personally quoted thousands of projects, produced hundreds of thousands of individual parts, and continually works with professional services around the world that offer Additive Manufacturing at MakerOS. In 2013, he co-founded the world’s first 3D printing retail service bureau in Chicago and survived a 3D printing bubble. In 2014 he founded Manulith, a 3D printing, and product design agency, where his clientele included Fortune 500 companies within the aerospace, automotive, and medical industries. Mike is also a mentor at Stanley+Techstars Additive Manufacturing Accelerator, a mentor at WeWork Labs in NYC, and formerly a mentor at TechTown Detroit. He’s previously been featured on MSN, Make Magazine, NBC, and the Encyclopedia Britannica. D-Business Magazine called him the “Face of 3D printing.”

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