3D printing used to be the stuff of dreams. But today, it seems to be everywhere. Now we can print virtually anything, in any shape in just a few minutes or hours, depending on the size and complexity of the item being printed. Not only that, but we can do it right from home. Just as we used to – and probably still do – print documents, we no longer have to travel to a store to buy those fashionable knick-knacks or other household items; all we have to do is tell a 3D printer to make it so.

But is owning a 3D printer really worth it? What kinds of 3D printers are out there? And will a 3D printer be as perpetually useful as its traditional 2D counterpart? These may be the questions you’re asking yourself as you ponder 3D printer ownership.

It can be tempting to want to buy a 3D printer. And there’s no doubt that doing so can have many benefits. For the business, a 3D printer can mean a lot of money saved on the purchase of inventory. As well, it can mean more of a diversity of products to sell, as today’s 3D printers can create household items as well as various gadgets. Any 3D models that aren’t available online for download can be created in-house, meaning that you don’t have to wait for someone else to come up with the idea. Entrepreneurs looking into profitable possibilities can use 3D printers to expand their offerings.

But what about 3D printing for the home user? Considering the current price of 3D printers, it appears that more thought may be required before making this kind of purchase. The cost of a 3D printer can range anywhere from $500 to $4500, but even the low end printers can prove to be prohibitive. So what should you think about before making a 3D printer purchase?

Do You Want To Print, Or Do You Want To Modify The Printer?

According to at least one source, the question of whether or not to buy a 3D printer comes down to whether or not you consider yourself a tinkerer. Some who want to buy this type of printer are more interested in building the actual machine than using it to print. These are the tinkerers. And for them, an option is available; 3D printers do come in kits that require building from scratch.

Other kits allow the owner to design their own printer. In addition, a large number of these ‘kit’ printers are open source, which allow owners to modify printer design and submit the modifications for others to take advantage of. If you fall into the tinkering group, then your wallet will benefit most from these kit-style printers, as they tend to be lower in cost due to the self-assembly requirement.

If you are someone who wants a 3D printer because of the virtually limitless amount of things that can be printed with one, then you are likely to be in the other camp. Artists may never tire of the 3D printer, as it allows their creations to become tangible. Designers of things like concept items and board game pieces can quickly and easily see how their ideas look in real life with the use of a 3D printer. Even do-it-yourselfers can fall into this category, as they can create tools that are needed to complete repairs in the home.

Budget is most certainly a consideration when thinking about the purchase of a 3D printer. However, many sources say that costs to purchase them are on a steady decline. Many companies are currently projecting prices for their 3D printers will be in the record lows. Finally, when considering the purchase of a 3D printer, it’s important to think about the practicality of the things you will be printing. Will you actually use them, or just want to use the printer to see what it can do, discarding the print jobs you don’t like? Doing this can result in a significant waste of resources, which can end up costing you more than you expected to own a 3D printer.

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