Who would have thought that buying and using a 3D printer could save you money over just a single year? A study by professor Joshua Pearce a researcher at Michigan Technological University says that such a feat is entirely possible, printing a list of various household bric-a-brac and spares using a consumer-level 3D printer and freely downloadable 3D models from Thingyverse.
Prof Pearce printed the "20 common household items" at a total cost of just $18 for materials and a few hours of electricity. Checking the Google Shopping website (but not adding postage charges) he found that it would cost somewhere between $312 to $1,944 to buy these same 20 things. For the first production run of these items it is therefore possible to cover your materials cost and the cost of an open-source 3D printer.
Wealth for everyone!
Following his research, Prof Pearce stated "For the average American consumer, 3D printing is ready for showtime". Also it's not just about this money saving, it's about the convenience and just-in-time operability "Say you are in the camping supply business and you don’t want to keep glow-in-the-dark tent stakes in stock," Pearce said. "Just keep glow-in-the-dark plastic on hand, and if somebody needs those tent stakes, you can print them." He went on to add "It would be a different kind of capitalism, where you don’t need a lot of money to create wealth for yourself or even start a business."
Don't rush out to the shops yet
Looking at the low end, these household knickknacks and spare parts are listed in the study as costing as little as $312. The list includes such non-essentials as both an iPhone 4 dock and and iPhone 5 dock - I don't know how you print a dock with just plastic, sounds like a stand to me. Also the list includes such things as shower curtain rings (x12), a garlic press, a wall plate, shower head, an orthotic, a safety razor, a spoon holder and a Pierogi mold.
All yours for only $2,000 (*spoon and table not included)
Yahoo News asked Prof. Pierce about his choice of household objects and he stuck by the assertion they were typical things and "they pretty much made stuff that they actually needed", the two iPhone docks were asked for by two co-researchers. It was also interesting that micro manufacturing plastic shower rings could beat the price of any mass-produced ones available. However with 20 common things costing $18 to print that does make the average item only 80c, beating any 'dollar store' price.
The original story could, however, be a good persuader to show 'the other half' the financial benefits of a 3D printer, if you are interested in buying one anyway.