Low-Cost 3D-Device Prints Your Household Items
Having your own 3D printer at home can help you not only to save large amounts of money but also to generate profits over 5 years, says a new study published in the journal Technologies.
Investing in a relatively cheap 3-D printer for your household has proved to be a profitable endeavour: you basically make your money back, and obtain profits after a given time! The 3D just needs to be plugged in, and it can start printing household items, from a soap dish to a juicer.
These findings were obtained when researcher Joshua Pearce from Michigan Technological University decided to evaluate the practicality and cost-effectiveness of an at-home 3D printer called a Lulzbot Mini, a low-cost model able to create high-resolution objects; the programs of the device can be easily accessed and modified.
Consumers (including technologically-illiterate ones) made their money back in 6 months, and made profits amounting to almost 1,000% over 5 years. According to Pearce, consumers might have saved over $4 million for the 26 objects tested in the study.
Pearce enlisted the participation of undergraduate student Emily Petersen for the research: the latter was to use a 3D printer for the first time ever, without any guidance or directive given out to her. She explains that the device was actually very easy to operate. She made use of a 3-D design file search engine known as Yeggi to make 26 household items: a Christmas tree stand, a juicer, tool holders, a soap dish, a bathroom wine glass holder, a camera lens holder, parts of a coin holder, a fan-art Pokemon Bulbasaur planter, a shaving brush stand, snowboard binder clips, and shower heads, just to name a few. She just had to look up the items, select the ones she wanted, and touch the print button—easy as pie.
Pearce compares the Lulzbot Mini to a “regular computer and office paper printer”.
The researchers decided on 26 items to be printed, assuming that a household would print one such item weekly, and testing this for a period of 6 months. The energy, print-time, and plastic use of each time were closely monitored to determine the costs entailed. Then, a savings analysis was performed on every one of them. The researchers took into consideration both high-cost and low-cost comparisons: the former displayed a mean 93% savings, and the latter, 98.65%.
“With the low-cost estimates, the printer pays for itself in three years and all the costs associated with printing—such as the price of plastic and electricity—are not only earned back, but provide a 25 percent return on investment. After five years, it’s more than 100 percent,” Pearce says. “With the high-cost estimates, the printer pays for itself within six months. And after five years, you’ve not only recouped all the costs associated with printing, you’ve saved more than $12,000.”
Petersen explains that the technology can be easily used by the average consumer who will not need technical knowledge about the device to use it. She and Pearce believe that this process will only get easier with time, with further technological advancement and greater accessibility to printable designs.