Rapid Prototyping Service

Rapid Plastic Prototyping Cost Overview

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Henry

15 years of experience in prototyping and manufacturing.

Rapid Prototypes are essential for product development, offer tangible representations of concept. they significantly contribute to overall development and marketing efforts.

However, to ensure successful project, it is needed to understand the cost factors associated with rapid prototyping so that you can make reasonable budget at the beginning. In this article, we explain costs for creating different prototype types, such as CNC prototypes , 3D printing prototypes, and urethane-casting prototypes.

How Prototype Cost Is Estimated?

Prototype cost consists of material cost, machining cost, labor cost and surface finishing cost. material cost calculates by part weight, machining cost and labor cost calculate by hourly rate. so, this will link to the timing used for machining and labor operating which means the more complex prototype, the longer lead time will be taken, then the cost of prototype will be higher.

How Long Does It Take To Make A Prototype?

Generally, it will take less than 10 days to make single plastic or metal prototype, this will depend on the complexity of the design. for example, for a plastic optic light guide in automotive lighting with optics pillow on it, it will take at least 5 days due to small optics need more time to make on the CNC machine.

Factors Of CNC Plastic Prototype Cost

Material Cost

Different materials vary in cost, Clear material like Acrylic and polycarbonate is more expensive than ABS. Material cost significant affect the cost of CNC prototypes.

Here is a data table showing the cost of major plastic sheets (30mm thickness) commonly used in CNC prototypes:

Plastic MaterialCost per Sheet (USD)Sheet SizeThickness
ABS$200 – $4001220mmX2440mm30mm
Acrylic$600 – $8001220mmX2440mm30mm
Nylon$300 – $6001220mmX2440mm30mm
Polycarbonate$600 – $8001220mmX2440mm30mm
POM (Delrin)$500 – $7001220mmX2440mm30mm
PP$400 – $6001220mmX2440mm30mm

CNC Machine Hourly Rate

The CNC machine hourly rate is another important factor affect the overall cost. Machine shops charge an hourly rate for utilizing their CNC machines, which can be different depending on the shop’s location, machine types.

Complex geometries require longer machining time, which lead to a higher cost. Here is a table showing the estimated hourly rates of 3 axis, 4 axis, and 5 axis CNC machines:

CNC Machine TypeHourly Rate (USD)
3-Axis CNC$8 – $15
4-Axis CNC$15 – $20
5-Axis CNC$20 – $30

Labor Hourly Rate

Labor costs are also a key factor affect CNC prototype cost. Skilled technicians and operators are required to program and set up the CNC machines, as well as perform post finishing and quality check after CNC machining.

Labor cost is different in different Countries, labor hourly rates for prototype manufacturing in China is significantly lower than other country.

RegionHourly Labor Rate (USD)
America$50 – $100
Europe$40 – $90
China$10- $20

Factors Of 3d Printing Plastic Prototype Cost

Material Cost

The 3D printing materials significantly impact the cost of 3D printing prototypes. it is the Main contributor for the total cost because the 3D printing machine is cheap and no need much post finishing work need after 3D printed prototype. Below is a table show the cost of different 3D printing materials per gram (g).

MaterialCost per gram (USD)
PLA (Polylactic Acid)$0.4 – $0.8
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)$0.4 – $0.8
Acrylic (Polymethyl Methacrylate)$0.5 – $1
Nylon$0.6 – $1.2
PC (Polycarbonate)$0.5 – $1
Carbon Fiber PLA/ABS$0.5 – $1
ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate)$0.4 – $0.8
Metal Filaments (e.g., Stainless Steel, Copper)$0.8- $1.5

3D Printing Machine Hourly Rate

The hourly rate of the 3D printing machine used for prototyping usually do not take into account when calculate the 3D Printed prototypes cost because the machine is relative cheap.

Labor Cost

The labor cost for 3D printing prototypes also not be taken into account for the final 3D printed prototypes because no much post processing worked need after 3D printing.

Factors Of Urethane Casting Prototype Cost

Master Pattern Cost

The master pattern is used for creating the silicone mold. The cost of the master pattern depend on the manufacturing method, such as CNC machining or 3D printing, you can refer to above information’s.

Casting Material Cost

Different urethane resins come with different properties such as rigidity, flexibility, clarity, and heat resistance which result different resins cost. Here is a table showing the approximate cost of different casting materials used for urethane casting prototypes:

Casting MaterialApproximate Cost per gram (USD)
Polyurethane Resin$0.8- $1.5
Silicone Rubber$0.3 – $0.6
Epoxy Resin$0.3 – $0.6

Silicon Mold Cost

The cost of making the silicone mold is a key factor for urethane casting prototype cost. it can be different depending on the size, complexity, and quantity of molds required. Below are some estimated costs for silicone molds:

Silicone Mold TypeApproximate Cost (USD)
Simple Silicone Block Mold$100 – $200
Complex Silicone Mold$200 – $400
Multi-Cavity Silicone Mold$600 – $600
Large-Scale Silicone Mold$600 – $1000

Labor Cost

Labor costs involve the skilled technicians who handle the entire casting process, including preparing the master pattern, mixing and pouring the casting material, and demolding the final prototypes. this is same with CNC machining prototypes.

Plastic Prototype Post Processing Cost

Polishing Labor Cost

Polishing is a common post-processing step to achieve a smooth and glossy surface finish for prototypes. For an optic clear prototype, it takes days to finish the polishing to get the high glossy surface. The cost of polishing labor will depend on the size and complexity of the parts. It is typically charged on an hourly basis with the timing spend on manual polishing.

Fit And Assemble Labor Cost

Usually, the prototypes require assembly. The labor cost will depend on the timing spend for assembly. If the assembly is complexed, more time is needed to finish the job.

Surface Finishing Cost

Surface finishing is needed in prototype manufacturing process to get required appearance of the prototypes. different surface finishing will cost differently. Here is a table showing the estimated cost of different types of surface finishing for prototypes:

Surface Finishing TypeCost Range per Part
Painting/Coating$30 – $60
Anodizing$30 – $60
Texturing$20 – $30  
Sandblasting$20 – $30
Polishing$10 – $20 per hour
Assembly$10 – $20 per hour

3 Tips To Reduce The Cost Of The Plastic Prototype

Use Less Expensive Materials

Choosing to cost effective materials can impact prototype costs much. Evaluate your project requirements and consider using less expensive materials that still meet your design and functional needs. For example, if your prototype doesn’t require high-performance properties, consider using standard plastic materials like ABS or PLA instead of more expensive engineering plastics.

Select A More Cost Effective Manufacturing Process

Select the best prototyping methods according to your project’s complexity and volume. For lower volume requirements, 3D printing, or urethane-casting might be more cost-effective compared to CNC machining.

Design Optimization

Simplifying the design can reduce material usage, machining time, and post-processing requirements. Eliminate unnecessary features and components that don’t contribute to the functionality of the prototype.

How To Start A Ptototype Project?

To start a prototype project, you need to find a proper prototype manufacturer who can manage your products with experiences. If you’re looking to lower your prototype cost while maintain high quality results, KUSLA Rapid prototyping service can provide the right solution for you. We offer a wide range of cost-effective prototype services with the support by our advanced technology and highly skilled team.

How much cost For Making A Prototype?

Here is a cost reference for single prototype from different machining methods.

Prototype TypeComplexity LevelLead timeCost Range (per part)
CNC prototypes(bezels,housings)Moderate1 to 2 weeks$200-$600
CNC prototypes(optic parts)High1 to 2 weeks$400-$1000
3D printed mockup prototypeLow to Moderate1 to 2 weeks$50-$400
Silicone molded prototypeModerate1 to 2 weeks$100-$400
Post-processingLow to Moderate<3 days$200-$500

The final cost of rapid prototyping depends on the machining process, material and the part size and structure. Anyway, A simple plastic prototype part can cost from $50 to $200, and for a complex prototypes assemblies project can cost from $1000 to $50000 and even more.

Thanks to the low labor cost in China and Fast working pace, partnering with KUSLA Prototype, you can significantly lower your prototype cost. Here are the cost range and average timelines for building prototypes depending on the types in KUSLA prototype company.

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Gang Liu

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Hua Liu

Project Manager

Employees of Kusla.

Yiyang Zhao

Project Manager

Employees of Kusla.

Lu Wang

Technical Sales

Employees of Kusla.

Anming Li

Technical Sales

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Xiaoli Wu

Technical Sales

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Request A Quote

Get in touch with our professional team today, and we will respond to you within 24 hours.

Employees of Kusla.

Gang Liu

Marketing Director

Employees of Kusla.

Hua Liu

Project Manager

Employees of Kusla.

Yiyang Zhao

Project Manager

Employees of Kusla.

Lu Wang

Technical Sales

Employees of Kusla.

Anming Li

Technical Sales

Employees of Kusla.

Xiaoli Wu

Technical Sales

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
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