We’ve learned about an incredibly attractive new option for managing your 3D printer: SD3D’s “Printer Farm”.
The concept is quite different from anything we’ve seen before, but the closest analogy might be “renting a stable for your horse”.
As any 3D printer owner can attest, there’s a lot of work involved in 3D printing objects, particularly if you intend on printing a lot of objects. You must maintain the machine, load or change filaments, monitor progress, recover from failures, etc. For those that thought they’d save money by purchasing their own 3D printer, they may be surprised to find the amount (and cost) of labor required to perform volume printing.
SD3D’s Printer Farm solves these issues. You simply “rent a space” at their facility to house your 3D printer. They’ll look after its maintenance and operation for a rather small fee. This means they’ll accept your print jobs remotely and setup the printer for operation. They’ll even relocate your job to another printer in the facility should yours be broken.
How much does it cost? We asked David Feeney, Founder & CEO of SD3D:
When a customer brings a printer in to join The Printer Farm a lease agreement is signed with a term between six months and two years. The service costs vary slightly depending on the term length that is signed. For a one year term the average service cost per print bed is $5.89 at this time. The customer can supply their own filament or purchase it from us as needed at standard market rates (ie. appx. $30 per kg for PLA or ABS prints). This means that an original Replicator with filament supplied by the customer could utilize its full 5 liter print volume and only incur a cost of $5.89.
One of the key capabilities of the Printer Farm is universal use of their ABE, of which we wrote recently. The ABE should increase the reliability of printing substantially, which makes the Printer Farm probably a better place to print than home.
Are there downsides? We can think of only one: we would miss the satisfaction of seeing objects appear from thin air and pulling them out of the printer when done. But this matters less for those printing larger numbers of parts. For them, the Printer Farm should be considered.
Can you make use of the Printer Farm today? Yes, if you’re located in the San Diego area. If not, we understand SD3D is working to expand into other areas soon, with Los Angeles being next.