Your Industrial 3D Printer is Obsolete. Now What?

By on July 2nd, 2017 in Ideas

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 The now obsolete and discontinued Solido Pro desktop 3D printer
The now obsolete and discontinued Solido Pro desktop 3D printer

Developments in 3D printing occur at a rapid pace, sometimes rendering your equipment obsolete. What should you do?

In the world of desktop 3D printing for businesses, this is not that big a deal; simply get a new machine and dispose of the old unit through an online auction, donation to a worthy cause or simply toss it in the trash. 

But if you’re operating a more expensive unit, one that cost you tens of thousands of USD$, or perhaps even hundreds of thousands, the situation is a lot more complex. 

You might be faced with competitors that now operate newer equipment that runs at a lower operating cost, and may even produce parts of higher quality than you can with your existing equipment. You have little choice but to upgrade to keep up. 

But then you have an older machine on your hands. What do you do with it? There are a couple of paths forward you may consider. 

One option is to sell the machine, but that is easier said than done. Today 3D printing is still a relatively new thing to many companies and it’s quite probable you will not be able to find someone willing to buy your old equipment, even after posting it for sale on local online classified services. 

But there is a class of industrial 3D printer user that you are looking for. There are some 3D print operations that thrive on older equipment, as they have somehow found clients that are perfectly happy with the quality of parts produced by older equipment. 

These operations typically purchase used equipment, often of the same model they already operate, and put it to use on their production line. Sometimes machines are purchased for parts, but not always. 

The problem is this: how do you find them? 

One way is to use a broker. There are a very few equipment brokers specializing in the buying and selling of used industrial 3D printers. Typically they charge a fee and/or take a percentage of the sale, but in most cases this is an easy price to pay if you have no other way of disposing of the equipment. 

Brokers will coordinate the sale in addition to posting the availability of equipment, which sometimes is timed to match lease expiry. 

But there’s one thing to remember: the price of your used equipment is likely to be far less than what you paid for it, as the increase in machine capability tends to quickly drive down the price of used equipment. 

And this leads to another twist: those willing to use older equipment can get going for prices vastly lower than buying new machinery. 

There’s still life in those old industrial 3D printers. 

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!