Although 3-D printing is a fascinating technology that enables the efficient creation of numerous kinds of complete products and parts, equipment purchases are expensive. Upgrading the machinery can become costly, too.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can keep expenses manageable when keeping 3-D printing equipment up-to-date, whether you’re using the products for personal or professional use. Here are eight tips.
1. Consider a Rent-to-Own Option
Perhaps you only have an entry-level 3-D printer now and are interested in getting a much better model. In that case, the kind you want may be available to lease. Some providers offer leasing programs with the option to buy. By enrolling in one of those opportunities, you can have an ample amount of time to evaluate the printer and make sure it meets your needs.
Additionally, leasing programs typically provide set monthly fees that make it easier to incorporate the expenses into your budget, particularly when using a 3-D printer at home instead of at your workplace.
2. Look for Manufacturer-Refurbished Models
Since 3-D technology is new, the market for refurbished 3-D printers is not as large as the one for conventional printers. However, you can still find refurbished 3-D printers, often by going directly to the manufacturer’s websites.
Think about how manufacturers have their reputations to uphold, and they won’t want to knowingly and frequently distribute 3-D printers that haven’t passed their quality-control tests. Secondhand 3-D printers may also come with warranties or usage-related guarantees that should increase peace of mind.
3. Check out eBay or Similar Bidding Sites
If you're feeling adventurous and are trying to get a great deal on a 3-D printer upgrade, eBay or another bidding marketplace is an excellent place to look. Of course, there are potential risks associated with this option. Read the terms of sale carefully and find out whether you can return a 3-D printer that's faulty as soon as you take it out of the box. It's best to avoid merchants that specify you can’t send items back under any circumstances.
Also, set a budget for the amount you want to spend. Due to the rapidly changing nature of online bidding, it’s easy to get overly excited while trying to become the winner. Once the amount exceeds your set amount, you must have enough willpower to leave the bidding site and realize you’ll have to look for an item that’s still in your budget.
4. Focus on the Top-Selling Options
Today's leading printers enjoy popularity for good reasons. If you know you want to invest in a better printer but haven’t made further decisions, look at the best-selling 3-D printers on Amazon or another well-known website.
One advantage of looking at options on Amazon is that many of the items sold on that site include detailed user reviews. You may discover a seemingly affordable option you planned to buy has several highly cited issues. Alternatively, you could conclude a 3-D printer that’s a bit more than you’d prefer to spend is worth the cost because it’s so reliable and not prone to breaking down, per feedback from users who rely on the printer often.
5. Figure Out Which Parts You Need
If your 3-D printing budget is flexible, your upgrade might include accessories necessary for a particular type of printing. On the other hand, you may only need additional parts that expand your printer’s list of features.
For example, there are various methods used for die-casting, and some of them support the capabilities of 3-D printing. Combining die-casting with 3-D printing can reduce productions and extend the lifespan of dies.
Whether you’re involved in die-casting or another use for your 3-D printer, determine if your upgrade will include additional parts associated with your needs. If so, be sure to add those costs to the overall amount you spend. By forgetting to do that, you could easily pay more than intended and cause a printer that initially fit into your budget to be not so affordable after all.
6. Print Upgrades at Home
If you’re lucky enough to have a 3-D printer in your living room, don’t overlook the fact that you could print new parts for it using the printer itself. This is a cost-effective approach because you’re building your own upgrades using equipment you already have and only paying for the necessary materials and electricity required to run the printer.
7. Evaluate Sharing the Cost With Multiple People
Perhaps you work in a complex that has several companies that are currently working with 3-D printers or getting ready to do so. Alternatively, maybe you know several friends who are interested in splitting the cost of an upgrade. Sharing the expense with numerous people allows you to get better upgrades than you could afford on your own.
8. Investigate Your Eligibility for Tax Benefits
President Trump’s recently signed tax reform bill has left many people wondering how the new legislation will affect them. If you regularly meet with a tax professional — or are going to schedule your first appointment soon to get up-to-date on the changes — make sure to ask the specialist whether there are specifics in the tax code that could make your printer upgrade costs more feasible.
It’s crucial to realize you won’t be able to take advantage of this option by using your 3-D printer purely for pleasure. However, if your company purchased one or you are a self-employed person who uses the 3-D printer in a home office, it’s worth seeing if you could tap into associated tax benefits.
With these eight suggestions, the costs related to upgrading your 3-D printer don’t have to drain your bank account. By thinking creatively and keeping an open mind about the possibilities, you might find a better printer than expected for a price lower than you imagined.