i.Materialise reports they have some rather old 3D printers still in operation at their site. These stereolithography printers (3D Systems SLA 250's) were apparently originally installed in 1990 - and are still used to produce parts for clients. To put it in perspective, these devices are so old you could buy them a beer - legally!
Carefully engineered devices, such as these from 3D Systems, clearly can last a very long time. Hobbyist devices are quite different, as they are often built with less-than-precision parts. But that's ok, because the hobbyist that built the printer can obviously rebuild the kit, too. Not so in the commercial world, where high-priced devices must be put to work as much as possible to recover their acquisition cost.
In the case of i.Materialise, we suspect this machine has paid for itself several times over by now. It should be buying us beers!
Via i.Materialise (Hat tip to Joris)