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How to Calculate Costs with SOLIDWORKS Costing

Friday February 24, 2023 at 9:00am

Last year, there were over 6 million users of SOLIDWORKS worldwide designing, simulating, and producing products that we see today.

Combined with the issue of rising costs due to global material shortages, the cost of living crisis, and energy price increases, wanting to know how much it would cost to produce a product and how you could make it cheaper has never been more of a relevant thought.

Integrated into SOLIDWORKS Professional and Premium, SOLIDWORKS Costing is a tool which allows users and manufacturers to estimate the costs of producing a product.

This add-in considers a wide range of factors when estimating the cost of a product such as material, labour, setup, and operational costs – with this information, a breakdown of the costs can be generated and allows the user to easily identify where any cost savings can be made.

Whether it is a machined part from a mill or a lathe, a folded metal sheet metal or weldment part, a plastic-injected or 3D-printed part, the costing tool is able to recognise these features and give you a cost based on the combined manufacturing operations. With a SOLIDWORKS Premium license, cost analyst of assemblies is also possible.


Let's take the model used in SOLIDWORKS Model Mania 2020. If this part were to be machined, how much would it cost?

Dictated by a fully-customisable costing template, the costing tool can automatically recognise what machining operation would be required based off the model geometry and collate the cost data to give an overall estimate of how much it would cost and how long it will take to produce the product.

With an ever-changing global economy, prices will also vary from time to time. The costing template can easily be updated to reflect new prices and operations via the import function.

Determining how long a machine takes to set up and how long an operation takes is also useful data that SOLIDWORKS Costing can provide. Setting up a new machining operation such as drilling requires the previous machine to be shutdown, cleaned and stowed away so the new machine can be set up with the relevant tools. A cost to use the machine may also be factored in too – this could include any associated hire, energy or replacement part costs.

These transition and operating costs cost the business money because no products are being made. This can also be very costly, especially if the machine is being used to make a small batch.

Running the costing analysis on the part, if it were to be made as a one-off using a block of Plain Carbon Steel, according to the default costing template for machining, SOLIDWORKS Costing estimates that it would cost approximately £105 where 97% of that cost is due to manufacturing.

By simply increasing the batch to 10, the total cost estimate drops by 77% and a batch of 100 results in a 85% reduction in cost.

The graph above plots the results. We can see that, in order to make the most out of the current machines and operations currently in use, the recommended minimum number of components per batch is around 100.

One of the advantages of the costing tool is that you can quickly change parameters and carry out a price comparison. For example, changing the material to AISI 304 steel increases the price by 19% however using a 6061 aluminium alloy reduces the price by 3% for a one-off part.

Although the material cost for aluminium alloy is much higher than plain carbon steel, it is easier to mill aluminium than it is steel. This means that the time to mill aluminium is shorter, hence the costs to run the machine as well as labour costs are lower, attributing to a lower overall cost.

We can also specifiy the cost to open and run the workshop per hour, and any markup/discounts can also be included in the cost analyst tool.

The costing template also provides the ability to add custom operations such as painting, inspection and purchasing of consumable parts.

To add a custom operation once it has been documented in the costing template, just click the Add Custom Operation button.


If the aim is to determine potential ways to reduce the cost of manufacturing a part, or just to simply estimate how much it would cost to manufacture your model, then the SOLIDWORKS Costing tool is ideal tool for this.

By configuring a costing template file, the cost of materials, operations and labour can all be analysed across your designs using the SOLIDWORKS Costing tool.

Armed with this information, making informed decisions to optimise your material choices is simplified, and manufacturing methods and batch production can be analysed to minimise costs and maximise profitability.

Take the Next Steps...

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