3D Printing Could Save You Thousands of Dollars

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Has the price of a 3D printer got you down?  With printers ranging between $350 to $2,000 in price, many people scoff at the notion of buying something so seemingly esoteric.  After all, what's the use in printing little toys, right?  Well, think again.  A new study from Michigan Technological University shows that the average consumer can save between $294 to $1,926 by the time they print 20 typical household objects like showerheads, iPhone cases, and kitchen utensils.  Taking the iPhone case as an example, you'd normally find that going for about $20 at an Apple store.  The cost of printing your own?  About 27 cents.  That can really add up over time.  After a mere 20 uses, you may even end up recouping the cost of the printer itself.  And the next step?  Profit.

Of course you can always take it a step further if you're really crazy about 3D printing and go print something like a full-size 1961 Aston Martin DB4 replica.  Granted, it's still a replica, but the rough equivalent of a million dollar car for about $2,000 worth of plastic is still quite a steal.

Do you have a 3D printer?  What's your favorite thing you've ever printed?

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I've got a first generation Makerbot Cupcake printer (batch XV)  that was built from scratch and took over 2 years to complete.  My printer doesn't have anything up against the new Makerbot printers, but it's still quite fun none-the-less.
I'm currently using it to produce parts for a UAV drone that I hope to launch later this year.
Here is my Curosity rover that I printed the same day that Curosity landed on Mars.

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Can you purchase a plastic recyler to melt down your own plastic?
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Good thinking Mike Recycling the material save the world.

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Yes you can:
And for the real environmentalist, there is the RecycleBot:
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That's pretty amazing!
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This guy staring off into the sunset is actually not a person at all.  Rather, it's a 3D-printed miniature that is about 6 inches tall but startlingly lifelike.

These models are printed by a company called Twinkind.  They cost between $300 to $1,700.  They must be using one amazing 3D printer for this work.  Wired did an article about them, which can be found here.
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Those models on Jim's post are mighty impressive!  I don't know if they will be money saving... but printing them at home sure would be :)
I do not yet have a 3D printer.. it will likely be a while before I justify the expense.  I am very interested in it though!  Offhand I can think of a huge number of applications for it here at the house.. 
  • a replacement battery cover for the remote contral my dog chewed on.  It has never fit quite right since.
  • a door latch for the dishwasher
  • the transmission link for my washing machine.  I found one locally after many phone calls for 12 bucks, but online it was gonna cost me 40!
I would go on, but you get the point!
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It could possibly save us thousands of dollars, but it has the potential to save NASA even more.  Yes.. that is right.  3D is going orbital next June when NASA sends one up to the International Space Station to help with spare parts!

NASA sending a 3-D printer into space

""3-D printing provides us the ability to do our own 'Star Trek' replication right there on the spot," NASA astronaut Timothy "T.J." Creamer says in the video. The printer would "help us replace things we've lost, replace things we've broken or maybe make things that we've thought of that would be useful.""
Full Article
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I really like the idea of this but there are a few issues
1) The cost, currently printer ink is one of the most expensive luquids in the world. It would be cheaper to put champaign in your printer. I am expecting silly costs for refills for 3d printers.

2) All that plastic, when people get bored of it we are going to have a lot of plastic lying around. Recycling plastic is messy and the recylcing percentages for plastic are quite low when you compare it to metals.
3) Realistically apart from the novelty I dont see a use for home users. I wouldnt rely on a part for a critical system that I printed off myself.
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OK, the following article is not ONLY about 3D printing, but it is included.  It is a collection of cooking robots, one of which will 3D print cookies in any shape you wish.
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"Away from robotics, Electrolux has been exploring the creative fringe of kitchen design with its annual Design Lab competition. The company recently announced the semi-finalists for 2013, which include a 3-D food printer "
Not a perfect fit for this thread, but not worthy of a thread of its own.  I found it interesting to add here as another soon to be seen application of 3D print technology.