I’ve wondered for a while about the cost of operating a MakerBot. Let’s break it down and see what happens:
- Plastic. According to some calculations on the MakerBot Operators group, the cost of MakerBot ABS is around $0.03 – $0.04 per cubic centimeter based upon a price of $70 for 5 pounds (or 2268 grams) of ABS, a density of 1.2 grams per cubic centimeter. 1 Using the current prices of $81.36 for a 5 pound coil after shipping, I calculate the price of ABS at $0.035 per cubic centimeter. Since we’re talking about such large numbers, let’s just round on up to $0.04/cc.
- Time. Skeinforge has been estimating about 85 minutes to print 19 cc of plastic. This comes to about 4.5 minutes/cc.
- Electricity. At at $0.20/kWh, a MakerBot probably draws around $0.03 per hour.
Thus,we may estimate the cost of operating a MakerBot in terms of consumption of goods and resources (excluding computer, human, and MakerBot time and wear and tear) as follows, where V is the volume of the extruded object in cubic centimeters or “cc”:
Supposing I wanted to recoup the entire cost of my MakerBot to date and spread it across the entire life of a single 5 pound roll of ABS. 2 Let’s round the cost of the MakerBot, all repairs, and all extra MakerBot related materials up to $1,500.00. One 5 pound coil would have 1890 cc’s of plastic. This would come to $0.794 per cc of plastic. So, I would suggest the cost of buying a MakerBot and printing off an entire coil of plastic would probably end up costing you about $0.85 per cubic centimeter of plastic.
Resource cost of printing a 19cc totally MakerBottable 3x2x1 Rubik’s Cube is $0.80.
Actual pro rated cost of printing a 19cc totally MakerBottable 3x2x1 Rubik’s Cube is $16.15.
Absolute cheapest MakerBot usage I’ve seen anywhere at Metrix:Create for members printing from Thingiverse is $0.30/minute, which would print the totally MakerBottable 3x2x1 Rubik’s Cube for $25.65.