As we all know, the makers of the new industrial revolution want to change the world. Still, a question arises: how? On the one hand, the freedom to create any object by printing it in 3D is priceless; on the other, printing objects that we need at home allows us to save money. Yes, but exactly how much are we talking about?
For the first time ever, a scientific paper published on Mechatronics tries to answer this: Life-cycle economic analysis of distributed manufacturing with open-source 3D printers. According to researchers at Michigan Technological University, the average savings guaranteed by a 3D printer for a family is of up to U.S. $ 2,000 a year. So we’d better take a look at the details to understand where these numbers come from.
The estimates published on Mechatronics refer to the financial analysis of the benefits of a RepRap, the low-cost 3D printer. This is an open source model, particularly popular among fans of digital manufacturing, which is worth around 600 euro. The machine allows you to print small plastic accessories, but only 20 items from open source design were taken into account for the purpose of the study. A drop in the ocean.
No sooner said than done: if a U.S. family used a RepRap to produce this range of 20 everyday objects, it would be able to save between $ 300 and $ 2,000 a year. Assuming that a low cost 3D printer will pay for itself within a maximum of 48 months, the long-term benefits would be quite satisfactory.
However, the said $ 2,000 savings – on online purchases, postage, travel by car to the shops, and why not, time spent to search for objects on the shelves – do not take into account the hours of study required to master a RepRap. Printing in 3D with open source printers is not straightforward. It takes time, patience and humbleness to learn from your mistakes. All features that are priceless.