Re: Summary of machine rates

From: Brad Fox (
Date: Thu Jan 15 1998 - 16:55:38 EET


Terry wrote:

>As you're well aware, there are many ways of
>calculating the cost of building RP models for customers. Many have tied
>the cost to machine build time. Approximately what do you charge customers
>per hour for machine time using one or more of these machines?

Lets get real folks. Before everyone gets euphoric with their new strategic
information on hourly rates, let's stop for a second and ask a few questions:

1) rates are all over the board - why? Market demands, Technology, or....?

2) I would be interested in (conceptually) what were the components that
determined their figures? The figures stated really mean nothing until this
is defined.

During my days in the SB biz, I remember tracking (plotting) my true cost of
ownership vs. the revenue (per machine) on an hourly basis. A few of the
components included:
  - Capital cost of the machine taking into account depreciation, etc.
  - Cost of lab/area the machine lives in
  - Cost of the service agreement
  - Cost of consumables (material, lasers, tips, etc.)
  - Cost of marketing the service
  - Cost of warranty work

We did factor in economies of scale, but the bottom line is that "reported"
hourly rates were never, ever true reflection of the cost to own and operate
the RP machine. If you are a capitive in-house shop and charge your
corporate client $20 to $35 an hour, you belong in government! (yea, right
we have a balanced budget!!) For instance, a good RP technician with
benefits could easily cost $35.00 alone. IF you are a SB, the situation is

I think Jim P's comment is worth noting too. Many companies utilize the RP
as a pattern for additional add on work. This would/could effect the hourly
rate a company would charge.

As always, the above is IMHO...


Brad Fox
Rapid Design Technologies.

>1) I have been told that the price ranges for a SLA-500 is from $75/hour
>for a customer in the midwest to $100/hour on the east cost. We use an
>equation that derives the cost from the part's Z-height and volume on our
>2) I don't currently have an FDM, but am having some parts built as part of
>an evaluation. The vendor I am working with is charging in the neighborhood
>of $35 per build hour on the FDM 8000.
>3) We're a bit different since we don't sell time, but we recently
>calculated our COST at $38/hour for our SLA 250/50. We're working on
>similar numbers for FDM 1650 and Actua 2100.
>4) We checked the costs of running an MMII and we think we can offer for
>about $15/hour in the beginning. After six month, we think we can go down
>to $10. We have an LOM 1015 and we have to calculate $30 for getting jobs
>against the SLA 250. (from Germany)
>5) The hourly rates quoted by service bureaus in India range from
>US$20/hour of build time to US$40/hour of build time. All the services
>offered here in India are currently on the FDM1650.
>6) My experience is that the companies will get as much as they can out of
>the machine. I've seen prices around the $125 an hour range. The bureaus
>are not typically happy about giving out the info. They want to do it on a
>per part basis, or give you an amount per cubic inch. You have to really
>pry to get the hourly. Or you have to know how fast the machine builds and
>calculate it.
>7) We will usually quote $20-25/hour (for the FDM1650) but have gone much
>lower for larger/longer parts. We're running an FDM165, DTM Sinterstation
>2500 (nylons, SOMOS, and Trueform), and an SLA250.
>8) If the FDM machine runs at 100% capacity (8760 hours/year), our hourly
>rate is $22.83. I would
>guess in reality that our system runs in the neighborhood of 60% capacity
>which equates to approximately a rate of $38 per hour.
>9) I am in charge of FDM1650 and we currently charge $25/hr for machine
>usage, plus the material cost. Our company is a non-profit service
>organization, therefore officially we do not make any profit. That
>obviously explains our low rates.
>10) I have been seeing a lot of service bureaus in the $30/hr range. Many
>appear desperate to get orders and are underpricing their parts.

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