Accounting for Design – Pricing 3D Print Designs

Accounting for Design – Pricing 3D Print Designs

This week at Pinshape, we’ve got Tracy from Hazz Design exploring how you should be pricing your 3D models! Hazz Design is a product design firm that has topped $500 million in retail sales for their clients, so read on for more tips on how you too can sell!


Supporting the growth of the 3D printing community by offering openly shared 3D print designs is much needed in an industry where content is king. But pricing 3D print designs for free may not be best for you as a designer or the 3D printing market as a whole. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, market pricing designs will grow you as a 3D Print Designer and create a demanding marketplace for good quality 3D print models.

As a consumer product designer, a significant amount of my time is spent studying the products in retail marketplaces,  both online and in stores. It is why our designs sell better and are priced perfectly for the market or product category. We have learned that establishing a proper perceived market value (suggested retail price), understanding who will buy, and overcoming any purchase hesitations needs to become the guidelines for pricing 3D print designs for both your shop and marketplace growth.





In typical consumer products, R&D plus overhead plus manufacturing and delivery costs are factors in the evaluation of market pricing. In the market-driven model of pricing 3D print designs, we use time to design plus time to build as our X multiplier in determining whether or not a 3D print design has a high degree of complexity and therefore value. If a good 3D design model would take an inordinate amount of time to recreate, why wouldn’t someone pay for it?


As we say on the WTFFF?! Podcast, it all comes back to your WHAT. Properly pricing 3D print designs requires checking your “what’s” complexity value against the market of similar “whats”. Take for instance our 3D Twist Tie. When we make a comparison of the “whats”, we are careful to only survey those with similar levels of complexity and those that offer it for a price. In our case, a bow tie or necklace might offer a reasonable comparison. We then look for the median value (dropping out the highest and lowest prices) and then multiply by our X factor for time and complexity. At this point, we do a non-3D Print market gut check to see if that is too much to charge for something plastic. For our tie, it is too high and we decided to not offer a download version.



Forego the mentality that in order to maximize the number of downloads a 3D print design file will get, you must give it away for free. Think instead of who will be most interested in your 3D print design model. Is it a poor college student? Is it someone interested in a last-minute gift for a spouse? Or is it for collectors, fans, or enthusiasts? Now look at what else they spend (or don’t spend) money on. Are they the type to buy a dozen red roses at the last minute for an anniversary? Or will they not even glance at the price tag when their fan favorite comes out with a new t-shirt? Students in this case are the exception because they have no funds and a lower cost value on their time— if your design is targeted for students go ahead and give it away but ask them to make sure to tell their friends it came from your shop. You’ll at least get some promotional value from it.


target black friday


Your shop needs to build credibility for your skill and file quality in order to build downloads, so let’s come back to the idea that giving away a 3D design file for free will increase downloads. In retail consumer goods, there is a marketing strategy called Loss Leader Pricing. You see it everyday on your Kindle with books offered for free for a limited time only or on Black Friday when items are sold at a loss to attract customers. Give them an entry point to more profitable products (or the rest of the book series) and give them a taste or sample of what to expect from a brand or author.

With 3D print models, a Loss Leader pricing strategy can be very effective. If your design is enticing to the market’s “who” and your “what’s” complexity has a value, then giving away one or two models for free to help confirm that your 3D models are highly printable and of good quality is essential to building your shop portfolio of models.

Questions? Comments? Post them below! 

Thanks Tracy for that informational post! We hope this gives our designers a better idea on how to price their designs to get the most downloads. If anyone has any questions or things to add, feel free to leave a comment below. 

sell on pinshape


Tracy Hazzard WTFFF Podcast Host MEDTracy Hazzard, a Rhode Island School of Design graduate, has been designing with husband Tom for over 20 years. Their product design firm, Hazz Design has commercialized 200+ consumer products & 35 patents, topping $500 million in retail sales for clients. As co-host of the WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast on iTunes, Tracy brings her unique marketing, business strategy and design critique perspective to 3D Printing. You can follow Tracy on anywhere on social media @hazzdesign.


Pinshape is a 3D printing community and marketplace where makers from all over the world can find and share their next great 3D print and help each other get the best results from their 3D printers.