When Should You Buy A 3D Printer?

By on October 22nd, 2015 in Ideas

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The question of choosing a 3D printer has become very complex given all the options available, and now another factor emerges: When should you purchase one? 

In today’s 3D printer market there are literally hundreds of potential machines to choose from, ranging from inexpensive kits to pricey multi-extruder machines with plenty of fancy options. 

It’s quite possible to dig through spec sheets and compare them with your requirements – and budget – to come up with a short list of machines to consider. In fact, our buying guide can help you do this in an interactive way. But there’s something about this that’s been bothering us. 

Here’s the problem: each week, it seems, there is a new 3D printer option available that hasn’t been seen before. It may offer something new that isn’t otherwise available, like an auto-leveling print surface, or the ability to print an unusual material, or a powerful onboard computer to quickly print objects, or, or, or, or. 

If you were to buy a machine today, what guarantee do you have that tomorrow an even better machine with even more useful features might not be announced? It may even be cheaper than your original choice. 

You have NO guarantees. 

In fact, it is almost guaranteed that tomorrow will bring a better machine and some disappointment for you. It’s even more gruesome when you purchase a pre-order from a startup company that promises to deliver the machine in, say, 10 months from now. How many other incredible machines might be announced in that lengthy period? How many features will you miss out on? 

It’s a problematic situation, but not one unfamiliar to those buying other electronic products. Consider the same dilemma that faces personal computing purchasers: why buy a machine today when tomorrow’s will be a lot better? 

In those worlds, the answer has always been: 

If you need a machine today, buy it today and live with it. If you don’t need a machine today, wait. 

We think this is sound advice not only for PC buyers, but also for 3D printer operators. If you really believe you need a 3D printer, then buy one. Buy the BEST one you can find for the price and features you require. 

But don’t complain when there’s a better machine next week.

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!