3D Printing: What is it Good For?

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Once the initial magic of being able to print things for yourself, how do you explain the need for 3D printers to friends? We have some ideas.

When you have a 3D printer there seems to be a typical sequence of questioning, which often goes something like this: 

Wow! What is that thing? 
How big can it print? 
Why would I need one? 

It’s the last question that is sometimes difficult to answer. Why, indeed, do you, or anybody, own a 3D printer? For some it was obtained to satisfy the curiosity of new devices, but beyond that there should be a purpose. 

We think it’s best if you explain it like this: 

  • 3D printed objects can be more expensive to produce than typical mass-manufactured items
  • But - each 3D printed item can be unique, a design that has never existed before
  • Therefore, 3D printers are best for items that are one-of-a-kind, customized items that are fit for a single purpose or individual

Further, 3D printers can also be useful to produce “short runs” of items when the number of items is less than the minimum required for a mass-manufacturing run. If you need a million pieces, you’re off to a major manufacturer; if you need only hundreds, consider 3D printing. 

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