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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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