Is the Cost of Personal 3D Printers Too High?

By on March 27th, 2015 in Ideas

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After perusing the 3D print inventions in Indiegogo recently we came to a conclusion: many of the campaigns are not actually inventions. 

A curious pattern is emerging. Take a look at these “project” taglines:

  • help me get a 3d printer for model design – I want to get a 3d printer for design ideas and messing around with
  • Give an aspiring high schooler a 3D printer – I am trying to get a 3D printer to make custom phone cases and sell them or give them away at school and to make many cool things with the printer.
  • Help me get a 3d printer – Help me, to get a printrbot simple or better
  • 3d printer to kick start my business – Help me get my hands on 3d glory
  • Providing For a 3D printer In a local School – Support 3D Printing
  • Help me to buy a 3d printer – I need a 3d printer to create some stuff, i will use it for many years.
  • Trying to start a small 3d printing buisness [original spelling] – Me and a friend are trying to start a small 3d printing company where we would make custom items!

And there’s many more similar projects. The all have something in common, as you might suspect, but it’s this: these projects have all raised USD$0. ZERO dollars, Euros, Yen, whatever. There is essentially no support for such projects. 

Are they even projects? Most have at best very unclear notions of what the use of the funds and printer will be. They are definitely not inventions or product launches of the type we’ve come to expect from platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These are effectively personal charity projects. 

That’s not to say we don’t want these folks investigating 3D printing; they’re just having trouble doing so, or want an easier path to being. The more people involved in 3D printing, the better. 

A more effective method of raising the relatively small amount of funds required to “buy a 3D printer” would be to simply save the cash yourself, get a second job for a month or just ask a friend or relative. If you cannot convince them to give you money, how could you expect strangers in the public to do so? 

Meanwhile, there’s another aspect to this. If 3D printers were less expensive than they currently range (USD$500-1500 and up for capable machines) and were instead in the USD$100 range, would these folks be asking for money? Maybe they’d actually have – or be able to obtain – that amount of funds to just get started on their own. 

At some point in the future, we expect the price of practical 3D printers to drop to consumer levels, but that’s not yet happened. For now, the price of 3D printers for many is just too damn high.

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!