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Study suggests home 3D printing could save people up to $2k p.a.

by Mark Tyson on 2 August 2013, 12:15

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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.



HEXUS Forums :: 28 Comments

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Did anyone read a recent article that said using these printers was equivalent to being in the same house as someone who smokes indoors
that made me laugh…crazy household items!
Hmmm.

So, who thinks the “ink” equivalent will end up being priced the same way Epson, Canon, HP etc price their inks, that is, sky high?

I don't see this being a popular home purchase, and least, nowhere near at the current time.

First thing I'd want is colour control, and not just by buying different reels of plastic, and selecting which monochrome colour I want.

Second, it is HUGELY limited unless you can either download the exact design you want (and what will they cost), or you have access to a cheap, accurate and effective 3D scanning capability, and both the software, time and expertise to use it.

There are times I'd find this very useful, but right now, nowhere near often enough to buy one. Not YET.

This MIGHT be the first widespread use of a technology we all end up adopting (like, oh, digital cameras, laser printers, photo printers, hell, even PC's) …. or it might not. Right now, I'd love one to play with, but buy one? Nope.
Saracen
<some text deleted> First thing I'd want is colour control, and not just by buying different reels of plastic, and selecting which monochrome colour I want.

Second, it is HUGELY limited unless you can either download the exact design you want (and what will they cost), or you have access to a cheap, accurate and effective 3D scanning capability, and both the software, time and expertise to use it.

There are times I'd find this very useful, but right now, nowhere near often enough to buy one. Not YET.

This MIGHT be the first widespread use of a technology we all end up adopting (like, oh, digital cameras, laser printers, photo printers, hell, even PC's) …. or it might not. Right now, I'd love one to play with, but buy one? Nope.

Agreed on all points. For the amount of time I'd need/use it, I can't justify the cost of even a cheap model at the moment, and the fewer options/lower quality results wouldn't help. Right now, I see a better-spec version being available at a community workshop (or similar) far more appealing. To get the high spec machine (and resulting projects) is currently too costly to justify for most individuals, but multiple colours/finer detail etc. available at communal facilities could easily justify the higher cost AND increase the appeal. I'd happily pay for time on such a machine.
Last year I did quite a few secondary school visits as part of trying to find somewhere to live. It surprised me how commonplace 3d printers were in school these days, proper industrial jobs too not ones like Maplin sells.

So yes these are a toy I can't justify atm, but I suspect in a few years my kids will be asking why we don't have one.

As for the “ink equivalent”, yes that is the model I expect. I can buy ink from Canon, and it costs £50 to refill my printer. Or I can buy a syringe and set of bottles from Morrisons or Asda for a fiver. Ink is cheap, and in fact if you buy enough of it in bulk to offset the ~£100 required to calibrate a printer against the ink, you won't compromise output quality either.