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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

3-D Printing Comes Home

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 17 September 2013 12:00

New research says you can now download plans to 3D print so many household items, "printing" and using those items can offset the thousands of dollars it costs to buy a 3D printer.

"For the average American consumer, 3D printing is ready for show time," says Associate Professor Joshua Pearce, from Michigan Technological University, in Houghton, MI.

SmarTech, a new technology industry analyst and market forecaster from Charlottesville, VA says this isn't your run-of-the-mill discount 3D printer.

They are priced under the $3,000 range, but those that drop to the $1,000 level are "more like toys than fully functional printers."

Personal 3D printers are marketed to the “pro-sumer” class, a group comprised of individual professionals and enthusiast/hobbyists, SmarTech says.

3-D printer market booming

SmarTech says, the personal 3D printer market will reach $115 million by the end of 2013 and grow to about $590 million by 2018.

Total revenues generated by personal 3D printing - comprising printers, scanners, software and services consumed by the personal 3D printer segment - will reach $1.46 billion by 2018.

While massive robot-driven 3D printers are being readied to build homes, much of that market growth is attributed to 3D printers cranking out items that go in homes.

Pearce says 3D printers deposit multiple layers of plastic or other materials to make almost anything, from toys to tools to kitchen gadgets. Free software designs that direct the printers is available by the tens of thousands.

Proof in the pudding

In the study to print 3D household items that offset the cost of a 3D printer, Pearce chose 20 common household items listed on a popular 3D plans website Thingiverse.com.

Then Pearce shopped Google to determine the maximum and minimum cost of buying each item online, sans shipping charges.

The conclusion: it would cost the typical consumer from $312 to $1,944 to buy those 20 things compared to $18 to make them in a weekend.

Pearce says 3D printers for home use cost from $350 to $2,000. So, making the very conservative assumption a family would print only 20 items a year, a printer could pay for itself quickly, in a few months to a few years.

Take a look at FastCompany's run down of the items printed.

More utilitarian than flashy brand name products, some of the items included:

  • A showerhead
  • A spoon holder
  • A pirogi mold
  • A paper towel holder
  • An iPhone tripod
  • An iPhone holder
  • An iPhone case
  • A key hanger
  • Shower curtain rings
  • Calipers
  • A garlic press

It's a motley crew of household items, but the trend is growing.

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Broderick Perkins

A journalist for more than 35-years, Broderick Perkins parlayed an old-school, daily newspaper career into a digital news service - Silicon Valley, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com. DeadlineNews.Com offers editorial consulting services and editorial content covering real estate, personal finance and consumer news. You can find DeadlineNews.Com on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter  and Google+

www.deadlinenews.com/
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