Time Is Money, and 3D Printing Saves Both

trippy 3d printed displayEven back in 2013, before there were the applications for 3D printing that exist today, TechCrunch reported that 3D printing could save the average household up to $2,000/year, which is no small chunk of change.

Researchers at Michigan Technological University found that even when operating on an extremely conservative assumption that a household would only make approximately twenty products per year with their printer, they would save anywhere from $300 to $2,000, all from printing parts, hardware, or even recreational games on a 3D printer. Eventually, in theory, the printer would pay for itself, and then some.

We simply are not at the stage where there are 3D printers in every home yet, but there is no doubt in the minds of many additive manufacturing experts that the day will come soon. However, 3D printing isn’t only effective for households; it can make massive impacts on the financials of businesses, universities, and even companies that traditionally would not think to use additive manufacturing.

Here are a few ways we’ve found that 3D printing saves money after the initial investment in the printer, for both businesses and homes.

3D Printer Saves Money at UNK: Right here in Nebraska at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, a custodian noticed some broken light fixtures around campus. “He actually came back a couple months later saying, I think one of these machines [3D printer] can fabricate a part that might help us. The solution we came up with was probably about 10 cents, so pretty significant when you look at the number of fixtures on campus this will be able to help,” assistant professor of Interior Design at UNK, Jeff Nordhues, told NTV. In the long run, this creative custodian’s discovery could make a major impact on the upkeep expenditures at UNK.

Start Your Own Company: The easiest way to not just save, but to make money from 3D printing is by creating and selling designs for 3D printers! It’s like creating a smartphone app and selling it for royalties: Once you’ve made the design, anyone can purchase it. Places like the Makerbot Store sell digital designs that can be printed right away, or websites like 3Dburrito.com are secure platforms for both buying and selling designs. The Internet is the place to be for grassroots selling platforms like you’d need for 3D printing designs, and it can be a nice way to make a little cash from designs you’re already creating.

Reduce Environmental and Financial Impact: One airline has found that 3D printed parts can save both money and the environment by creating lighter, more efficient parts for planes that in turn reduce carbon emissions during flights. Eric Masanet, leader of the Northwestern University team working with the airline, says that “there are enough parts that, when replaced, could reduce the weight of the aircraft by 4 to 7 percent, and it could be even more as we move forward. This will save a lot of resources and a lot of fuel.”

Anything we missed? Have you saved money by using a 3D printer as opposed to traditional manufacturing methods? If so, leave a comment in the section below!

photo credit: Inside the Cape Times printers in anaglyph 3D red blue glasses to view via photopin (license)