Additive Manufacturing Strategies

eBay for Industrial 3D Printers Opened by Pivot AM

ST Medical Devices

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Here’s the thing: industrial 3D printers are pricey. A high-end fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer could run up to over $10,000 just for a smaller or less well-known machine. Given the finicky nature of running a business, we can reasonably assume that a number of 3D printing companies fail. So, there should be a market for used 3D printers. Over the years, we’ve seen businesses attempt to get into selling used equipment, but eBay remains to be the largest source for old 3D printers.

Perhaps, Pivot AM Auctions will change that. A new division of U.S. service and equipment provider Pivot AM Service, the site allows users to bid on refurbished 3D printers in a manner similar to eBay, with “max bid” and “buy it now” options included. Sellers can list their used machines for $250, while buyers pay an eight percent premium above the purchase price.

As of this writing, there are 11 pieces of equipment available, including four Stratasys FDM 3D printers, three 3D Systems stereolithography (SLA) systems, and four pieces of post-processing machines. Most of the starting bids for the FDM units begin around $1,000, while the SLA 3D printers begin at $10,000. There is one 2015 Fortus 400 that is currently bidding at $0, with a buy-now price of $49,000. If that’s not a mistake, you could feasibly purchase it and turn it around for a pretty penny.

The advantage of having a site for auctioning off used 3D printing equipment is that Pivot AM is already integrated into the industry. Its owners know the business and can connect buyers and sellers with de-installers and shippers, as well as financing entities that can enable purchasing loans for the machines.

It is possible to buy used industrial 3D printers from such places as machine resellers and service bureaus, general equipment sites, and eBay. Pivot AM Auctions has the differentiator of acting as an online auction house. However, given the small size of this niche market, it would be difficult to know how much business could really be derived from auctioning or even selling used equipment. This seems particularly difficult as one of the benefits of purchasing directly from the manufacturer or from a reseller would be the technical support, for which this industrial equipment requires a great deal. Therefore, it seems as though the ideal customer would be an existing service bureau or part maker that already knows its way around these machines.

That said, there definitely has to be a burgeoning market for used industrial 3D printers. What I expect to happen is that a company like Xometry, which has already expanded beyond its role as a network for digital manufacturing services to sell materials and parts, would begin networking sellers and buyers of used equipment as a part of its existing offerings. If Pivot grows large enough, perhaps it could find a welcome home at a company like Xometry.

Image courtesy of Pivot AM.

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