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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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What would I do?
By CaedenV on 8/1/2013 1:05:57 AM , Rating: 2
After I take care of a few other priorities I am going to get a 3D printer. The main motivating factor is that I really want to build some sort of amazing dollhouse for my daughter. It could be awesome after I get past the learning curve. But then the other obvious thought is to be able to print custom legos for my son. The savings on those 2 things alone will save thousands of dollars over my kid's childhoods (doll stuff is crazy expensive!). Plus, it will all be one of a kind custom stuff that is theirs and theirs alone.

On top of that there is a ton of home improvement things that can be done. Wire organization clips, disposable tools (especially wrenches and screwdrivers that I rarely use and can even more rarely find), parts wearing out on the car (like the plastic tip of the e-brake), phone and other tech mounts and cradles. It seems like a no brainer thing to purchase and learn to use, even if it is just for fun little toys and gifts.

And about the whole time issue involved... I recently started cataloging all of the movies, games, and shows I have played over the years... I thought I would be somehow proud of the wide variety of things I had watched over the years, but really I feel more like I could use a hobby like this.

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