Study: Using 3D Printers for Household Products Could Save Hundreds of Dollars
July 30, 2013 1:21 PM
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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.
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RE: But, Does Anyone Actually Need Those Parts?
8/1/2013 9:50:05 AM
Another thing to keep in mind, especially with some of these, is that the strength of the end product can vary, widely, depending on the position of the item being built. These 3D printers, printing as they do in layers, have more strength in one direction (against the grain) than in the other (with the grain)....so building anything that requires any amount of strength will require the designer to figure out which way to lay out the design, for the greatest required strength.
You can also build items (with higher end 3D "printers") to be solid or honeycombed inside. This could result in a lower cost, for a lower required strength item.
You also have certain items, like spoon rests, that I wouldn't make with a 3D printer, solely because of the fact that the material is probably not rated to be "food grade" plastic.
And, as pointed out already, how often will you really need to build these items, versus the initial cost involved??
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