'Should You Buy a 3D Printer or Use a 3D Printing Service?' - Sculpteo releases 2015 Edition
Although there have never been as many options for 3D printers as there are today - both in technologies as well as price options - the same can be said for third-party 3D printing services, too.
While older companies including Shapeways and Ponoko helped lay the foundation for connecting additive manufacturing technologies with multiple types of users who either didn’t have the space or weren’t ready to purchase their own 3D printers, the number of options today have exploded for every type of user and budget. Whether a user wants to continue to use the high quality print services that Shapeways offers or source their 3D print from a neighborhood 3D printer using 3D Hubs’ localized manufacturing connection platform, it’s clear that 3D printing has never been easier.
But when comparing whether to purchase your own 3D printer or use an existing 3D printing service, it can be difficult to choose which might be better for your needs.
Last year, 3D printing service Sculpteo took a long, hard look at the two options and released a reporton their findings. Because the additive manufacturing industry moves so fast, they decided to conduct yet another report for 2015, which they have just now released.
“It’s been over an year since the last study about 3D printing costs for personal and professional use so we have decided that a new, updated and improved version was necessary.” Said the company in a recent blog post.
Another important factor that was considered by the team included how much a printer would actually be used; while a 3D printer in a family home may only be used a few times a month, a 3D Printer in a commercial setting could likely be printing 24/7 depending on the project at-hand.
Once the team outlined all of the various factors of 3D printer ownership and printing through a service, they then grouped five of their previously used designs and calculated the cost to print each set of five for a number of different printers depending on how many copies of this set are printed.
“As more and more items are printed, the investment dissolves on all of the prints, making each of them individually cheaper to produce,” said the Sculpteo team.
“On the other hand, there is a (approximately) constant cost/print for the consumables required.”
Unsurprisingly, the resulting calculations vary depending on what’s ultimately needed by the user. According to the team, they found that there is a stark contrast between the options of printing low quality items for low prices or printing higher quality prints with unrestricted budgets and the benefit of owning a 3D printer or using a service really comes down to how often a user will print and what kind of print quality they want depending on their budget.
However, the company states that between the simplicity of not having to deal with the complicated 3D printers nor the process itself, their own services offer a great in-between option for those who are looking for a consistent balance of both price and quality.
For those interested, you can read their report in-full by heading over to the Sculpteo blog.