Konubinix' opinionated web of thoughts

Is Owning a 3D Printer Useful?


When I talk about my 3D printer, a question that often comes is “Is it useful?”. Sometimes, I am suggested to bring some meshes to hacker spaces to have those printed for me.

To me, a 3D printer is

  • Easy to use. At least I think it is easier to print a part than trying to craft it with wood or any kind of material I easily have at hand.
  • Attractive. Being able to think the part and then have it reduces a lot the try and see roundtrip, making it a pleasant experience,
  • Timely. My printer is in my home. I literally can go from the idea to the real life test by spending only a few minutes of my time.

Those good properties in the EAT model imply that I am nudged in moving forward in my diy projects. I don’t have some bad “excuses” like “I need to go to the shop to buy some kind of tool or some kind of material”.

Therefore, if the usefulness is measured by how fast I can move forward in my diy projects, yes, it is definitely useful.

By comparison, bringing models to some hacker space is

  • Easy to use also,
  • Attractive also, not to mention that you are likely to meet with interesting people,
  • Not very timely. When the idea comes, you have to plan to go to the hacker space

This is nuanced by the fact that this needs me to drive almost 30km in likely heavy traffic is

  • Not Easy
  • Not Attractive
  • and Not Timely

Also, some suggest to send the models to companies that will mail you the printed part.

This is

  • Easy
  • Attractive, the printed part is likely to be of pretty good quality,
  • Not that timely. You still have to wait a few days to have your part, reducing a lot the number of tries you can make per day.

Also, both those methods induces a cost much higher that owning a 3D printer. Because of the time and money spent in using a car or the money spent in buying the 3D part. In my situation, because I print a lot of small stuff, this quickly outreach the initial cost of buying the printer and the cost of the pieces and filament.