In the United States, there’s this thing called “Black Friday”, the day when (apparently) everything is on sale. But is it a good day to buy a 3D printer?
The past year or so has seen a very dramatic increase in the retail exposure of consumer-level 3D printers. We have several printer manufacturers hooking up with major chains such as Microsoft, Home Depot, Staples and others, along with multiple independent 3D printing stores and resellers. There has never been as much choice in both 3D printing machinery and places to buy them.
In years past personal 3D printing gear was typically available only from small manufacturers’ websites and the occasional obscure retail shop. With today’s massive shift to major retail outlets, it seems that 3D printing could get caught up in the Black Friday craze.
We don’t doubt that multiple resellers will mark down their 3D printing gear, accessories and supplies somewhat on that special day. We’ll also see bundles where you may save on combinations of equipment, supplies and services.
But is that enough to make you buy a machine? Particularly for someone else, perhaps as a holiday gift? We have a few points you should consider:
Price. Even with discounts, personal 3D printing equipment is still a bit steep. Expect to pay in the USD$1,000 range to acquire anything decent. That’s perhaps a bit more than implies buying level for many people.
Technology Advancement. Deals may be had, but they could be for “last year’s model”. That might not make a big difference in some products, but it could be a game changer in the world of 3D printing. This technology is advancing so quickly, you really want to acquire the best you can to make your investment last.
Knowledge and Skills. In the case where you’re buying equipment for someone else, be absolutely certain they are a) interested in the technology and b) able to deal with a 3D printer. They are still notoriously finicky, requiring time and effort to test, tune, research and even fix the machine. Gifting such a machine to someone could be viewed negatively after they open the box and discover what it’s really going to take to run the printer. Make certain the giftee has time and skills to operate a 3D printer.
Quality. The quality of 3D prints has steadily improved, but is still nowhere near the quality finish one might see in mass-produced products. For 3D printing aficionados, this is not an issue, as the thrill is in being able to make your own stuff. But for others, that may not be the case. We’ve often heard comments from newbies regarding the layer lines or perceived poor finishing. Don’t gift a printer to someone who’s particularly fussy.
That all said, you should definitely examine the sales available to see if that particular printer you sought is suddenly available at a low price. Not sure which printer to buy? You might check out our new interactive buying guide to assist.
Image Credit: Wikipedia