3D printers seem like something out of a sci-fi movie. The technology behind it is quite advanced that it feels like we have jumped ahead in time when we’ve created it. However, experts believe that 3D printers are still lagging behind modern standards. Many businesses are certainly putting their money into this innovative technology, but is it worth it for every business?
When we talk about 3D printers, we think of creating everything we want. Having one makes us feel like we can create anything from our imagination. But this isn’t the case all the time, and in most situations, it’s not worth investing in a 3D printer just for a hobby. However, some businesses rely on this technology for their day-to-day transactions. Many believe that it will be the next most significant thing that will hit the business world, alongside cryptocurrency and blockchain.
But what is a 3D printer, and how can investing in one affect your business?
Printing has been around for a very long time. The first printing elements could be traced back to 618, when the Tang and Song dynasties in China did woodblock printing. Nowadays, our printing methods are higher quality and take less time than we printed back then. However, no one could ever imagine that we could 3D print models in real life.
It can be argued that 3D printing started way back in the 1980s. The Japanese innovated this kind of printing method and the French. They both used to print specific models into resin and other materials. Eventually, this found its way to different business ventures during the late 1990s and early 2000s. But nothing came close to the 3D printing boom back in 2010.
3D printing wasn’t accessible to the public until some patents expired, and manufacturers can now create and sell 3D printers commercially. This happened in 2010 when all sorts of 3D printers were manufactured by small and big companies alike. It was the technology to have back then, but it didn’t hold up to modern standards.
The main problem with 3d printing back then was that it couldn’t print complicated models without immense sculpting work afterward. This means that even though the model can be printed, people who print it still have to shape it into its perfect form. Another problem was that the machine and materials used to print were expensive.
Businesses that invested quite early into commercial 3D printers were left dissatisfied. Furthermore, their investments were in vain.
Eventually, 3D printers started to evolve. Nowadays, 3D printers can print all sorts of household objects, animated models, and even prosthetic limbs. There are still some ensuing problems, such as consistency and precision, but 3D printers are now much better than before. Moreover, the 3D printing industry is now worth $13 billion.
However, many experts believe that the 3D printers being sold commercially are not on par with modern standards. Sure, there are some advanced 3D printers, but those are way too expensive to be purchased commercially or be a smart investment decision for many small companies right now.
Should Your Business In One?
Answering this question depends on two circumstances. First, the kind of business you’ve started. Second, do you have the necessary budget to purchase, maintain, and use a 3D printer?
Purchasing a 3D printer highly depends on your industry. You don’t want to buy such an asset without ever using it to make a profit. It’s like purchasing a company car and leaving it to rot in the garage. Think of your 3D printer as an investment and one that will depreciate throughout the years. With this in mind, you’d want to get the most out of it before it completely breaks down.
Many industries use 3D printers to a certain degree. However, only a few use it daily. These are the manufacturing, robotics, and automotive sectors. But some industries are starting to use 3D printers. For example, innovative dentists are now exploring what 3d printers can offer to their industry. They’ve discovered that it has a lot of possible contributions to the industry, such as printing cheaper dental implants and physical models of people’s teeth.
Secondly, you’d need to have the necessary budget to purchase, maintain, and use a 3D printer. Commercial 3D printers aren’t all that expensive, but they are money you need, nonetheless. The materials to 3D print aren’t that cheap either, nor the electricity when you use one. Consider the costs before investing in a 3D printer, and ensure you can sustain it.
3D printers are awesome, but they might not be the best investment in your business. Consider the points we’ve indicated above before investing in one.