Does a desktop 3D printer pay off at home?

The broad range of pos­si­bil­i­ties a 3D print­er offers is not clear to most peo­ple. This results in the most impor­tant ques­tion of all: Does a 3D print­er at home pay off? The answer to this is “yes”, at least if you believe an Amer­i­can study.

The arti­cle with the title “Emer­gence of Home Man­u­fac­tur­ing in the Devel­oped World: Return on Invest­ment for Open Source 3‑D Print­ers”. The researchers includ­ed cheap as well as expen­sive prod­ucts from a vari­ety of sup­pli­ers and for a vari­ety of appli­ca­tions. Although the prod­uct sound extreme­ly sim­ple and straight­for­ward in the paper, it takes a lot of time and ideas.

They looked at a peri­od of 5 years and cal­cu­lat­ed the cost dif­fer­ence. For exam­ple, costs for object A were com­pared between the 3D print­ed and con­ven­tion­al prices. The result: a return of invest­ment larg­er than 100% after 5 years (invest­ing $500 and sav­ing $1000).

Does a 3D printer pay off and what objects are being printed?

A few of the fol­low­ing exam­ple prints illus­trate the work of the sci­en­tists at Michi­gan Tech­no­log­i­cal Uni­ver­si­ty. It is impor­tant to men­tion, how­ev­er, that some assump­tions have been made and com­plex mat­ters dis­re­gard­ed. For exam­ple, although you can print a cell phone case, the qual­i­ty and feel­ing are com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent even with flex­i­ble mate­r­i­al. There­fore, even most mak­ers still buy phone cas­es instead of print­ing them out.

Oth­er Object exam­ples are:

  • Spoon hold­ers
  • Par­quet cor­ners
  • Glass hold­ers
  • Show­er­head
  • Mobile Phone Case
  • Poke­balls
  • Ski mount for GoPro
    (to what extent a per­son trusts his GoPro 3‑dimensionally print­ed prod­uct remains open for each per­son)

Does a desktop 3D printer pay off at home? 3D objects mekka, phone stand, candle holder, personal hard, 3D pen, australia, ancient relict, 3d hubs, watch holder, model cars

Criticism of the study: Is a 3D printer profitable?

Although we want to empha­size the state­ment that 3D print­ers are prof­itable and not just a toy, our blog post should not be one-sided. In the end, a 5 year prof­itabil­i­ty will be bare­ly sus­tain­able due to defects or com­plete­ly new prod­uct gen­er­a­tions (fea­tures). You do not always need the lat­ter, but there is insuf­fi­cient knowl­edge about future inno­va­tion and their effects on the cur­rent prod­ucts. Fur­ther­more, it is dif­fi­cult to eval­u­ate one’s own use­ful­ness and knowl­edge for per­son­al­ized 3D print­ed objects. For one, not every­one has the imag­i­na­tion about the print­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties and most can­not design cus­tomized objects for their own needs.

Anoth­er point is that the researchers did not con­sid­er peo­ple who will still pre­fer tra­di­tion­al­ly pro­duced prod­ucts despite hav­ing a 3D print­er. Let’s say some­one needs a sleeve for his phone and designs as well as prints a case. How­ev­er, this it will like­ly be too hard and not fit the mobile phone. After a sec­ond attempt, the user decides to buy a high-qual­i­ty case around the cor­ner in the store. You see, in some cas­es peo­ple lose time and mon­ey with 3D print­ing which is why adjust­ments must be made in the approach of the study.

Positive aspect of the study

To cor­rect and ana­lyze the ques­tion of “Prof­itable 3D print­ers” we have to break the usu­al silo think­ing. Com­pa­nies must stop think­ing of their own 3D print­ing expe­ri­ence which is far from the actu­al customer’s lev­el. There­fore, we find it extreme­ly pos­i­tive that the authors Emil­ia E. Petersen and Joshua Pearce took the dis­ad­van­tages of a begin­ner into account.

A per­son who only starts with 3D print­ing can­not keep up with an expe­ri­enced mak­er, as it requires a lot of train­ing and prac­tice. For this rea­son, the researchers let novices test and used these obser­va­tions in form of data with­in the study. For this rea­son, we believe the arti­cle is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the total pop­u­la­tion in West­ern coun­tries with regards to the under­stand­ing of the tech­nol­o­gy.

Conclusion: Does a 3D printer really pay off?

This arti­cle on the prof­itabil­i­ty of 3D print­ing is an impor­tant piece of work, draw­ing a pic­ture of the future with 3D print­ers in our homes. We wel­come the efforts for quan­ti­ta­tive analy­sis in this area and hope for more works in this direc­tion. Nev­er­the­less, the study still has improve­ment poten­tials as they did not include price, qual­i­ty and con­ve­nience fac­tors for the com­par­i­son between con­ven­tion­al and 3D print­ing objects.

The next step may be a study that allows can­di­dates to choose between dif­fer­ent solu­tions with regards to qual­i­ty, price and con­ve­nience. This gives researchers more real­is­tic val­ues than the cur­rent the­o­ret­i­cal num­bers not includ­ing the deci­sion fac­tor.

Anoth­er pos­si­ble assess­ment could also be long-term learn­ing effects and ben­e­fits of the tech­nol­o­gy for your­self or chil­dren. This has also been the case with com­put­ers over the last few decades. This is just an idea that we want­ed to share with researchers and Mak­ers in our com­mu­ni­ty.

If you have any ques­tions or com­ments, feel free to text us via the com­ment sec­tion below or our con­tact form.

MerkenMerken

MerkenMerken

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