3D printing market is so dynamic that it gives us a number of different options for almost every decision. First of all, 3D printers can be bought as either a kit or an assembly. The printer kit allows users to explore the technology in detail whereas the fully or partly assemblies can start processing immediately or in a relatively shorter time. As a general statement, it can be said that the assembled printers are slightly more expensive than their kit counterparts. As an example, the Ultimaker from the Netherlands sells the Ultimaker 3D Printer Kit for €1194 while selling the fully-assembled model for €1699. Whether to buy a kit or not is up to the buyer’s own decision and expectations.
Tableau below shows a to-day shortlist of printers for different customer segments.
|Makibox||Hong Kong- PRC||A6 LT||No||$200|
|Mixshop||Canada||Prusa Mendel Full Kit (Excluding Printed Plastic Parts)||No||$439|
|Ultimaker||Netherlands||Ultimaker 3D Printer||Optional||€1,194 (kit) / €1,699(assembled)|
|3D Systems||USA||Cube X||Yes||$2,499|
|Stratasys Ltd.||USA||Objet 24||Yes||$19,900|
(More detailed lists can be found on 3Ders and Additive3D although they may not be quite up-to-date) As it is seen, a printer is available from $200 to $20,000 and more. However, the low-cost printers may sometimes require additional purchases like in the case of Mixshop’s Prusa Mendel kit. To make use of the printer, the buyer needs to pay an additional $100 for the printed parts –a surprise for the hobbyists who like the idea of self-replicating 3D printers!
Regardless of the price of the 3D printer, the buyer periodically needs to renew different parts of the printer upon breakdown. The assembled and trademarked printers may generally be under warranty; however, the open-source and relatively cheaper printers have shorter warranties or even none. Therefore, it would be wiser to think the 3D printer as a machine that requires a periodic maintenance rather than a one-time buy. The costs of the parts can be found in the websites presented in the tableau above.
Evaluating the printer cost, the software costs should not be discarded from the discussion. It is known that the assembled printers either have the slice software installed or use a free, open-source slicer downloadable online. Similarly, the DIY kits’ open source software should generally be downloaded and installed by the user. Therefore, in terms of slicer, it can be said that the cost is negligible.
On the other hand, the 3D modeling software is another issue to be discussed while it should be reminded that there exist internet pages that allows you download free or paid models or even modify models that are already developed. Modeling software can also be free –like Google’s popular SketchUp- or commercial; an example up-to-date price list is below.
|Dassault Systèmes||CATIA||undisclosed information (known to be over $10,000)|
|Dassault Systèmes||SolidWorks||undisclosed information (known to start from $3,995)|
|Siemens PLM Software||NX 8.5||undisclosed information (known to start from €6,150)|
|PTC Creo||Pro/ENGINEER||undisclosed information (known to start from $4,995)|