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A New Kind of Shopping: 3D Printing

Technology isn’t usually a big topic over here, but you have to admit it plays an important part in our lives – and helps makes things easier, faster, and even cheaper! Today, I want to talk about a technology that is only starting to make its way into our homes and lives, so you’ll be prepared when your kids start asking you for the newest desktop 3D printer for their next birthday!

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is as it sounds; it is a way to print 3D objects. Just as your printer at home or work prints on a flat paper, 3D printers contain an additional dimension, which is up. Layer by layer, slice by slice, material is added in order to eventually form the desired 3D object.

Here is a MakerBot Replicator 2 Home Printer printing a model building from hard plastic:

These days, 3D printers include a wild array of materials from plastic all the way to metal and even body tissue! 3D printed items can be found in the form of toys, pottery, edible pizza, costumes, wedding rings, and even customized prosthetics. Learn more here.

How Much Do 3D Printers Cost?

For a technology that originated over 20 years ago, the price point has considerably dropped. Of course, industrial 3D printers, which provide the highest level of accuracy and can print in an array of materials and colors, are still quite expensive (in the ballpark of $30,000). However, home printers can offer the same technology (albeit with less precision and functioning), for using a couple of thousand dollars. Yet, new printers are continually being developed, and some have a price tag of even $200!

However, most home desktop 3D printers are limited to the hard plastic material (ABS or PLA) and can typically print only one or two colors at the same time.  While the prices of these printers will likely continue to drop, there is still the upkeep of the printer that will cost you money. Mainly, you need to purchase a constant supply of plastic material roles (known as ‘filament’), just as you currently need to purchase ink cartridges for your printer at home or work.

So, Where’s the Frugal Angle in 3D Printing?

While it may not yet be the breaking point to go out and purchase a 3D printer on your own, continue to keep your eyes and ears tuned in. Firstly, once the software becomes more user-friendly (so people like you and me can make our own 3D objects), you may want to get on the bandwagon and fast!

3D printing collage
Source: 3D Factory

Imagine printing up unique and custom designed gifts from friends, family, and even clients – instead of buying mass-produced products. It would save you money, while still delivering on the “wow” factor.

Want to change your lampshade style? Need a frame for an unusually sized photograph? Want to create a cool key hooks by your door? You can print up all of these in the comfort of your home!

If you had a 3D printer, what would you print?

About Jessica J.

A native New Yorker, Jessica left behind the Big Apple almost 4 years ago to pursue new adventures around the world. Powered by caffeine and a relentless curiosity, she has now settled in Tel Aviv Jaffa with her husband, American cat, and a new appreciation for budget management.

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  • Stephen Saunders

    Great article! It will be interesting to see how that these 3-D printers continue to evolve. ^_^

  • I find the development of 3D printers incredibly exciting. I think it’s the future and we’re only seeing it’s mere beginnings. By the time we’re in our old age, I can only imagine that most things will be downloaded and printed from home rather than bought in stores.

  • Helene Cohen Bludman

    These 3D printers are fascinating. I am amazed at what they can do already, and I’m sure they’ll continents get more sophisticated.

  • Lexie Lane

    Wow! This is so amazing. I feel like this is just the beginning. Can you imagine where 3D printing will be later on?

  • Pam W

    I have seen so much amazing stuff created by 3D printers. I can’t wait to see what they do with the technology as it progresses.

  • Lisa Jones acouponaddict

    Amazing What Technology Is Bringing Us This Is Great Will Have To Get One ASAP!!

  • Leah

    so neat! I would print a camel. I collect camels so I would love to see how this printer made one!

  • 3D printing is such an exciting field! In December, I got to tour a 3D printing facility that produces car part prototypes such as engines. They let us “Dig” radiator caps out of nylon powder after they were printed and keep them as a souvenir. Imagine the possibilities when desktop 3D printers become more readily available!

    • Jessica J.

      That’s awesome @supercoupongirl:disqus. Although the desktop 3D printers aren’t the casting kind and their resolution isn’t as accurate, I agree that there will still be plenty of possibilities when they become even more accessible and advanced!

  • Terin Aleah Garrett

    What?! This is awesome!!

  • Amy Desrosiers

    I would print some cool cups and plates out!

    • Jessica J.

      @amydesrosiers:disqus Nice idea, and it could especially cute for kids!

  • Natalie @ A Turtle’s Life for

    Oh my word, this is beyond cool! I keep going back to stare at all of the pictures! I can’t even believe this is possible! This would be a blast to make jewelry!

  • A Dash of Sanity

    This is amazing! Crazy didn’t know I could get my hand on one of those!

    • Jessica J.

      @adashofsanity:disqus Yep! You can even buy them on Amazon!

  • Elizabeth @ Food Ramblings

    wow– this 3d printer is amazing…look at all the things you can do with it!

  • Debi@The Spring Mount 6 Pack

    I have been hearing about these. It seems like such a cool gadget.

  • Cynthia L

    This is really fascinating. I think that technology is just great, to think you can have something like this at home is amazing.

  • brett

    3d printing is cool. I have a hard time wrapping my head around it- and I watched things printing live in front of me at Microsoft headquarters in November!!

  • I really want a 3D printer! Making jewelry to match an outfit, or creating a new iPhone case on a whim would be so fun!

  • Lois Alter Mark

    I find the whole idea of 3D printing amazing! I would love to try using one, and can’t even imagine how this field will evolve over time.

  • Robin Rue

    I first saw 3D printers on The Big Bang Theory lol. I think it’s amazing and they are definitely the thing of the future.

    • Jessica J.

      @robinrue:disqus I remember that episode well! Their 3D figurines 🙂

  • Simply At Home Mom

    This is really neat and I could think of lots of things that I would like to print!

  • Debbie Denny

    That is cool. I would love to hve one!

  • Mama to 5 Blessings

    That is cool, I have never seen or heard of 3D printing!

  • Christine Luken

    Wow, that is so cool! I’ve heard of 3-D printing for industrial uses, but not for the masses. My hubby is an engineer, so I’m sure he’ll want one when the prices come down!

    • Jessica J.

      @christineluken:disqus Yeah, and he’ll probably be surprised at the low price point already. For $1,000- $2,000 you can get a good solid 3D printer from a reputable company (way less than the industrial printers). The price will likely keep going down…

  • Debbie Lamb

    OMG! This is so neat – this is the 1st I have heard of this. I will be checking this out for sure!

  • Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell

    I think that’s really cool! Once the prices become affordable, I’d be down for it!

  • Milena Milani Barrett

    Oh, tough choice. I don’t know what I would print. I’m sure the kids would pick something right away- so cool!

  • Craft Dictator

    I’d love a 3D Printer. I’ve gotten to see a couple in action in my line of work and they are so cool!