A startup company in Denver, USA now offers short-term rentals of personal 3D printers.
The idea is that for individuals, even a personal 3D printer is somewhat expensive, with many models exceeding USD$2,000 in price and some more than twice that. The new service from Rent-A-Build offers the opportunity to temporarily “rent” a 3D printer.
This approach could work best if you have only a short-term need for a 3D printer, perhaps on a specific project you’re developing. Another purpose for renting could be to try out a specific printer model before you buy one - just like some folks rent a car for a week before they buy one. It’s a way of providing more certainty on an expensive purchase.
How much does it cost? Rent-A-Build’s Zach Dicklin explains:
RentABuild is removing the barrier to 3d printing with affordable rentals. For $50-$150/week you can bring a printer into your home. Build the parts you need for your project, try out a specific printer before buying, or just find out what 3d printing is all about. We provide instruction and support to make your rental successful and productive.
According to Dicklin, the service is now accepting signups as part of a pilot program in the Denver area. If successful, we might expect to see them roll out the service to other areas of the USA and beyond.
Currently the program offers the following personal 3D printers for rent:
- BQ Witbox
- CEL Robox
- Cube 3
- Cube Pro
- Cube Pro Duo
- Cube Pro Trio
- MakerBot Replicator 2X
- MakerBot Replicator (fifth gen)
- MakerBot Replicator Mini
- MakerBot Replicator Z18
- Solidoodle 4
- Solidoodle Press
- Solidoodle Workbench
- Solidoodle Workbench Apprentice
- Ultimaker 2
- Ultimaker (original)
- UP! Mini
- UP! Plus 2
- Wanhao Duplicator 4X
- XYZPrinting DaVinci 1.0
Is this a good idea? Certainly it would be an excellent way to test printer models or perhaps add a few extra printers if you have a deadline to produce a lot of prints. It definitely reduces the financial risk of purchasing a machine of unknown quality and durability and thus could be quite attractive to many.
In the long term, we’re wondering how successful this venture could be. We may expect to see increasingly powerful personal 3D printer models emerge over the next few years - at decreasing price ranges that enable many more consumers to purchase. The rental approach only works for expensive items. For example, you don’t often rent an inkjet printer, do you? But so long as personal 3D printers are priced in the multi-thousands, there is room for a rental service.