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3D printers are now more affordable and easy to use

Three-dimensional printers were once considered too expensive to be part of the typical home's collection of gadgets, but a new study says that idea is changing. 

Michigan Technological University researchers -- led by associate professor Joshua Pearce -- have found that it could be cheaper for households to buy a 3D printer and create their own products than to buy them from stores. 

Three-dimensional printers take materials, such as plastic, and create products by printing layer upon layer from the bottom up, following a specific design. 

Pearce and his team came to this conclusion by identifying 20 common products found in the typical American home. They used the website Thingiverse, which offers free designs of these products for 3D printers.

After choosing the 20 designs, they looked at Google Shopping to see what the highest and lowest prices were for these items if they were to be purchased online (minus shipping charges). 

They then looked at the costs of purchasing the material for the 3D printer to use for product creation, and compared this data with the Google Shopping prices.

The result was that the average American household would spend anywhere between $312 and $1,944 for the 20 chosen products online as opposed to just $18 if they made them with the 3D printer. 

The 3D printers themselves cost anywhere from $350 to $2,000. Pearce said the 3D printer would pay for itself anywhere from a few months to a few years time. 

"For the average American consumer, 3D printing is ready for showtime," said Pearce. "Say you are in the camping supply business and you don't want to keep glow-in-the-dark tent stakes in stock. Just keep glow-in-the-dark plastic on hand, and if somebody needs those tent stakes, you can print them."

"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."

Pearce said the fact that prices are starting to come down for 3D printers, and the fact that it no longer requires an engineer to figure out how to use one, will make 3D printers more ubiquitous in the home in the coming years. 

Source: Science Daily

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RE: But, Does Anyone Actually Need Those Parts?
By TSS on 7/30/2013 3:46:28 PM , Rating: 3
It's not ready for primetime yet. While these professors might be in possesion of a Phd, they could use a bit more common sense.

I don't even want to print out a new phone cover. I like the sturdyness of the default one and honestly i couldn't care less. It's a phone cover. Why an Iphone cover anyway, and not an android cover? Is it so they could pad the list with docks and iPads?

Now dinner plates, there's something interesting. Print out new ones with a new design each week and keep the wife happy. That alone will be worth the $2000 spent on a printer.

Thing is though for that there have to be more studies into the safety of these materials. I do wanna know if dinner plates made by 3D printers would melt either in the dishes or with a hot meal on them, or worse if they "give off ink" onto the food.

Also recycling is a big issue. Cooking with oil for instance means the oil could soak into the material of the dinnerplate. It wouldn't be possible for consumers to recycle that material without contaminating the rest of the "toner" so there'd have to be some sort of garbage collection to a central point where the impurities can be taken out and the material can be more easily converted back into a usable state. This in turn can lower the price of the material in the store, and a lower cost automatically means more uses.

As well as there not being any supporting economy yet. Your average joe has no clue how to work 3D modeling software (i'll bet most people on this site even don't know how to actually work with it). But he can download a design from a website. Similairly, there need to be several electro-engines of standard size and power, which have been taken into account into the 3D designs with moving parts and can be purchased locally, in order to get simple moving designs such as a deskfan. You're not gonna reach mass adoption with merely static objects and customization.

3D printing will be ready for prime time when your average joe can go to the store, buy a couple of standard engines that plug right into the socket, buy a 3D printer with some toner, then go home and print/assemble himself a deskfan within 15 minutes. As well as print dinner plates to eat off without any health hazards. Then when he's done with it throw it all (except the engine) in the printer-trash and just print new stuff for less then a buck.

By krutou on 7/31/2013 12:18:45 PM , Rating: 2
"Now dinner plates, there's something interesting. Print out new ones with a new design each week and keep the wife happy. That alone will be worth the $2000 spent on a printer."

But would they be as sturdy or as nice as the higher end materials used by companies like Corning?

Not to mention the negative environmental impact from a surge consumption brought about by 3D printing.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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