3D printing is gaining in popularity but does it make financial sense to get and use one

3D printers, Optical Financial Illusion?

What comes out of a 3D printer is certainly no Optical Illusion you can feel and touch it. Sometimes it even looks good and is useful.  The question we’re going to pose here is whether or not these 3D printers are Optical Financial Illusions. Yes, they’re cool but do they make financial sense?

3D printers have been around for a while now.  I personally had my eye on one for some years now. It used to be that MakerBot was the only affordable game in town.


MakerBot Replicator

Makerbot was one of the first to break the $2000.00 barrier which at the time was a big deal. Fast forward only a few years and now there is a slew of 3D printers and accessories available, some for as low as $279.99 like the TwoUp 3D printer, a little higher but very popular the Da Vinci 1.0 at $449.99 and the most popular FlashForge 3d Creator pro which sells at $1,349.00.


TwoUp 3D Printer


FlashForge 3d Printer








XYZPrinting Da Vinci 1.03Dprinter

XYZPrinting Da Vinci 1.0 3Dprinter

Amazon probably sells over 30 different 3D printers and countless accessories, each with its unique or cheaper way of doing things. I certainly don’t want to dismiss Makerbot as they offer products around the $1300 mark as well and they do have more experience with 3D printers going for them.

Last time I was at the Maker Faire in Milwaukee you saw one stand after the other, each with their own 3D printer and although a little repetitive it looks totally cool. Seeing that little printer head depositing line after line of plastic on top of each other until the shape of a little Statue of liberty magically appears before you.

But this is where its utility becomes questionable. How many of those little statues of liberty have they already made and what is the cost of that statue (order the same statue from China for probably 8 cents when buying 100 or more). 3D printing is still very much in the small business prototyping and Hobbyist hemisphere. And it’s not a cheap hobby either; The printers may vary in price but the filament (the printers plastic ink so to say) is not cheap. Big Bang Theory wasn’t far off in their take on 3D printing


“We Printed a Whistle!, Amazing! You know these things go for 25 cents a pop at a party store, And we made it in only 3 hours!”

It takes patience, some technical/CAD skills (if you want to design something of your own) and money.

If you’re a small business that requires some sort of prototyping or if you are a hobbyist which cash burning in your hand, I’d say go for it. Totally cool and if you want to do something really great like providing 3D printed prosthetics I commend you (check out enablingthefuture.org ).

For the common household the 3D printer is still something that is far in the future. For now, for most I consider the 3D printer an Optical Financial Illusion.

Love to hear your thoughts

Want to read more about Optical Financial Illusions visit the Optical Financial Illusion page

You may also like

About Maarten van Lier

Maarten came to this country with a suitcase and a diploma. He created a financial plan and goal to become a millionaire in 10 years. He successfully turned his financial goals into reality, wrote a book about it and now blogs actively in hope of inspiring other to do the same.