Friday, December 6, 2013

Mark-up Ratios for Materials Used in 3D Printing Products

According to a report issued by IDTechEx, an estimated amount of materials used in 3D printing products in 2013 is 1,980 tons.   Click here to go to this report.   Another report from the same company states that of the total materials used in 2013 3D printing products, an estimated 56% will be photopolymers and an estimated 40% will be thermoplastics.  The same report also estimates that the prices obtained for these 1,980 tons are approximately $425 million.  Click here to go to this report.

From this data, identified in the paragraph above, along with market (open) prices for photopolymers and thermoplastics, a ratio of prices obtained for the materials when used in 3D printing products to open market prices of photopolymers and thermoplastics can be obtained.  This ratio represents to me a “mark-up” being obtained by the sellers of the materials as 3D printer-used material compared to when the material is sold on the open market for other uses.

Open market sales prices for photopolymer liquid resins intended for use with 3D printers can be found on the Internet.  Prices seem to be in the $35 to $50 per liter range.  Click here to go to a website that has such prices. 

Plastic News presents current (December, 2013) prices for a variety of thermoplastics.  Prices provided range from $.94 to $1.68 per pound.  Click here to see the prices provided.

Using the above data, I computed ratios of the estimated total prices for the quantities of photopolymers and thermoplastics in 3D printers ($425 million) to the total open market sales prices for 1,109 tons of photopolymers and 792 tons of thermoplastics (1,109 tons + 792 tons = 1,901 tons, which is 96% of the estimated 1,980 tons of materials used in 3D printing; see above for links to data).

Using an average price of $40 per liter for photopolymers and $1.31 per pound for thermoplastics gives a total price of $37.3 million when sold on the open market, versus an estimated $425 million for the same amount (1,901) sold for use in 3D printing products.  The ratio is 11 ($425 million/$37.3 million).  This is a markup of 11 times over the open market pricing assuming the above data is reasonably accurate.

Varying the open market prices for photopolymers and thermoplastics can noticeably affect the mark-up.  For example, if the average price of $50 per liter is used for photopolymers and $1.68 per pound for thermoplastics, the mark-up becomes 9.

Users of 3-D printers have complained about the high prices of materials, which they have been locked into buying when purchasing 3D printers.   The ratios computed above gives some indication of how much higher the prices are, if the assumptions made and the calculations used are correct.

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