MakerBot announced a new payment plan for purchasing 3D printer equipment.
One of the challenges in selling 3D printing equipment to the public is cost. The reliable and pre-assembled machines most suitable for consumers are just not in the price range of most people. Were you able to pop into Wal-Mart and pick up a quality 3D printer for USD$299, like you can for a number of 2D paper printers, there wouldn’t be an issue. However, with prices of most suitable 3D printers still exceeding USD$1,000, there’s a problem for some consumers.
One way that previous retailers overcame this challenge was to offer buyers a way to pay over time, instead of entirely at the time of purchase. MakerBot seems to have adopted a similar approach, which may be unique among 3D printer marketers.
Here’s how it works: just buy an item from MakerBot’s online web store, and you’ll be presented with a option to “Finance With Affirm”. Affirm is a web-based loan company, that can create an instant loan (if you’re qualified) at the time of purchase. You’ll be able to pay back this loan over 3, 6 or 12 months.
There’s a cost to this, of course, as you end up paying a bit more to enable the time payments. According to the rates on MakerBot’s site (as seen above), they will charge you 10-30% to do so.
Let’s take an example. Suppose you were purchasing a Fifth Gen Replicator for USD$2,899. If you choose a 12-month financing option, you’ll pay around USD$255 per month for each of the following 12 months, leading to a total payout of approximately USD$3,060. This means you would end up paying a bit extra, USD$160 or so, to acquire the machine.
However, for many people, this approach could be their only option to buying a machine that would otherwise be out of their financial reach. Note, however, that Affirm’s rates can be a bit high: 30% is a serious interest rate.
MakerBot has made this program easily accessible through their online store, but it seems to be possible to use Affirm separately if you wanted to do this for any other 3D printer. You’d need to separately obtain the loan from Affirm, then apply the cash to your purchase later.