Sculpteo has done a detailed analysis of the costs involved in choosing whether to use a 3D print service or buy your own 3D printer. We believe their analysis misses one important factor.
Don’t get us wrong here; we believe their analysis is quite correct. In the chart above you can see how they calculate the cost of printing on several popular machines. While some people may say printing at home is inexpensive because they “used only $0.74 of plastic” on a specific print, they often ignore the cost to purchase (and maintain) that 3D printer.
Sculpteo’s analysis takes this into account and delivers the numbers for six popular 3D printers, both personal and commercial. The commercial 3D printers also require the cost of a trained operator. (Don’t doubt this; we’ve used these types of commercial machines.)
Their conclusion, not surprisingly, computes the cost of 3D printing using Sculpteo is far cheaper than any owned-printer scenario. Well, perhaps if you built the machine yourself with cheap parts it might be slightly less expensive, but there are few consumers who would attempt that themselves.
We agree with their conclusion. It is almost certain 3D prints can be obtained a less cost by using Sculpteo. But there is one key difference.
The analysis didn’t measure magic.
There is a certain magic involved in seeing objects appear out of a machine. A machine that you own, in your own home. It’s a feeling of power that you, alone, can create anything.
We just don’t get that feeling when we open the courier package from a 3D print service.
Bottom line: Magic Costs.