We often talk about 3D printing as some sort of esoteric, obscure hobby for technocratic enthusiasts and high-minded geeks. However, a new study by MTU professor Joshua Pearce and engineer student Emily Petersen reveals that consumers could save big bucks over the long haul by 3D printing standard consumer items.
Michigan Tech posted up the article recently based on the study published on MDPI, where they explained that you can use 3D printers to make standard household items and save money instead of buying those items. They studied 26 random, standard household items – from tool holsters to tableware – and they found that comparing the cost of plastic material to print household objects versus actually buying them, consumers could save up to $4 million.
According to Petersen, part of the experiment was coming in fresh with the technology. She had never used the printer before and Pearce wanted to see how convenient this setup would be for the average household. Petersen explained…
“I’d never been up close and personal with a 3-D printer before,” […] “And the few printers I had seen were industrial ones. I thought learning to operate the printer was going to take me forever, but I was relieved when it turned out to be so easy.”
“[…] I was new to this type of hands-on troubleshooting. The fact that I was able to troubleshoot any issues I had and produce 26 items relatively easily is a testament to how accessible this technology is to the average American consumer.”
She managed to experiment with a number of different objects by downloading blueprints from online, which are freely available. Using a low-cost Lulzbot 3D printer, a blueprint search engine called Yeggi and a little bit of ingenuity, Petersen was able to craft a number of useful items to use around the house. Comparing the highs and lows of the items being 3D printed versus actually paying for them, the study found that there was at least 93% savings on the low end and 98.65% savings on the high end.
In other words, 3D printing is all around cheaper than buying those same items.
According to Pearce, he states…
“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.”
Usually when we discuss 3D printers on this site it’s about bionics and robotic prosthesis. This time around it’s a lot simpler, showing that the tech is getting to a point where it won’t be surprising to see a lot of household items made using personal 3D printers.
Heck, you could even use your 3D printed Deus Ex Adam Jensen prosthetic from Open Bionics to drink from your 3D printed cup.
What a time to be alive.