The survey, which polled 330 individuals employed by organizations with at least 100 employees who use or are planning to use 3D printing, found that many of those firms cited the startup costs of 3D printer purchases as a daunting prospect. Of those surveyed, 37% said they had just one 3D printer in production, with 18% saying they owned 10 or more. The average number of printers per organization was 5.4.
While the figures revealed that 3D printing technology can reduce the cost of finished products by more than 4%, among surveyed organizations, 60% said high start-up costs are a major factor in their reluctance to implement 3D printing strategies.
While entry-level filament printers fall in the $300 to $2,000 price range and higher-end machines can run into the $3,000 range, SLA and powder system printers start at $3,000 and can run up to tens of thousands of dollars to purchase. At the higher end of the desktop 3D printer range, devices like those from Stratasys and 3D Systems can retail for around $16,000.
Stratasys, an industry leader, now sells additive manufacturing systems which range from $2,000 to $500,000 apiece, and that’s hardly the kind of money most businesses have laying around in a drawer.
“3D printing has broad appeal to a wide range of businesses and early adopter consumers, and while the technology is already in use across a wide range of manufacturing verticals from medical to aerospace, costs remain the primary concern for buyers,” said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner. “3D printer vendors must work closely with their clients to identify potential applications of the technology that may have been overlooked, and improve the cost-benefit ratios of their products. Organizations that wish to experiment with the technology without incurring start-up costs should consider partnering with a local 3D printing service bureau.”
But now EMS Engineering and Manufacturing, among others, thinks they might have an answer to that problem; offering pre-owned 3D Printers and 3D scanners which promise to save customers thousands of dollars over a purchase on the new printer market. EMS’ inventory has been tested and certified, and their sales are backed by a company with 10 years of experience in the business. EMS offers installation, training, and service contracts on their used inventory as well.
For example, EMS is now offering a ProJet 3000 HD Plus for $50,000, and that price represents a significant savings over new. The company is also offering a Creaform GoSCAN 3D Scanner, a portable, lightweight, and easy-to-use device that includes a carry case, factory calibration, and a one year warranty at a savings they say amounts to some $6,000.
There are other options as well. Used market standby Ebay generally has a wide range of 3D printers and equipment on offer, and Solidoodle offers refurbished machines for as low as $299.
“Clearly there is much room for future growth in this market, but vendors need to work on tools and marketing that show how the technology can be applied and drive competitive advantage,” said Basiliere. “3D printing vendors that take the time to articulate the value of their product in terms that align with their clients’ needs will be well-positioned to capitalize on any future growth.”
Would you consider buying a used 3D printer or scanner for yourself or your organization? Discuss what you might see as the benefits and possible problems of such a purchase at the Used 3D Printer and Scanner Marketplaces forum thread on 3DPB.com.