back to article Buy a household 3D printer, it'll pay for itself in months!

Install a 3D printer in your house and it could pay for itself in just four months, a group of university engineers have claimed. This is according the Michigan Tech "Open Sustainability Technology Group" (also home to "3D Printers for Peace"). Dr Joshua Pearce and his acolytes say that anyone who uses an open source "self- …


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  1. Gordon Pryra

    Terrible waste of resources

    If we (ie the Human Race) were actually serious about lasting any decent length of time on this mud ball, there are good reasons why we should not have normal paper printers in a persons house, let alone a snot-sticker

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Terrible waste of resources

      Yes because the world is being deforested because of demand for paper. Get Real.

      1. Loyal Commenter

        Re: Terrible waste of resources

        Yes because the world is being deforested because of demand for paper. Get Real.

        Even if the trees to produce the paper are grown sustainably (and many are), paper production is far from good for the environment, with many impacts, including waste from the pulping and bleaching process (hint: wood pulp is not white), and the environmental impact of inks, toners, and coatings commonly in use.

        1. 404

          Re: Terrible waste of resources

          @ Loyal Commenter

          Not to change the subject but go check out what waste products result from Greek Yogurt - the latest fad

      2. smartypants

        Re: Terrible waste of resources

        "because the world is being deforested because of demand for paper."

        That isn't true. It's being deforested because of the demand for agricultural land. Paper is just one of the many crops we humans need.

        The best thing we humans could have done was not to stop using paper, but to start using more bits of rubber on the ends of our willies.

        Ideally, we should have done this before we got to a billion. It's not that long ago that this was the world's population. Some of us are likely to see that rise to 25 billion.

        So please. If you care about the planet, stop breeding!

        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Terrible waste of resources

          I care not a jot for this miserable ball of shite.

          tho fortunately for your argument i care rather a lot about my disposable income....

          so ok then :-)

        2. Grave

          Re: Terrible waste of resources

          its not that simple. i'm all for saving and not wasting resources.

          but you could also argue that a long term effect of huge population = more brains = more ideas = more advanced technology = less resources needed = and possibly also best case scenario, invention of practically free energy source and/or achieving technological singularity much faster than a limited population = endless resources

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this ladies and gentlemen.... an example why the business world despairs at the ability of graduates when they arrive in the real world.

    1. Cliff

      Re: And this ladies and gentlemen....

      You just try and tell Steve Bong that...

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A modern day laser

    In the early 1960's LASERs were touted as a solution looking for a problem. It appears that whoever came up with this advertisement article has created a problem, or a whole set of problems to fit the solution. (And to be fair to 3D printing, maybe in 20 - 30 years it will evolve into something worth doing, too)

    There are a few issues however. You don't need to buy this printer to get the tat it produces - you just need someone in the neighbourhood to sell this junk at a car boot sale. Second is that once you've produced your ration of cheap, plasticky garbage you don't need the printer any more - so off it goes to eBay, or FREEGLE if it still works. So the second hand market for these things should be quite bouyant (provided you can wait the few months for these to trickle through).

    Finally, if you're producing all these things yourself, what is little Jonny going to bring home from his/her/its woodworking class? Maybe schools need to adapt and move with the times.

    1. JeevesMkII

      Re: A modern day laser

      I'm sure if I had a megawatt laser, I'd view it as the solution to every problem too.

      The only really interesting thing I've ever seen 3D printers being used for is to produce D&D miniatures and scenery cheaper than you'd pay in a gaming store.

      1. wdmot

        Re: A modern day laser


        Printing D&D miniatures and scenery (or any other such models) is one of the most interesting applications I've seen for these printers. IMO it's not the slight savings you might get, but being able to customise things more. No need for the same repetitive scenery, you could change it up a bit! And that long scar your dwarf warrior got fighting that orc, well it's not just painted on (depending on the size of the miniature). Same goes for other games -- I have need of replacement pips for Iron Dragon, as my young daughters a few years ago lost them all (as well as a few of the cargo tokens), and making different robot models for RoboRally would be fun.

  4. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Does this use the same plastic that everything seems to be made of these days?

    You know - the stuff that breaks easily and seems to be impossible to glue or repair in anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does this use the same plastic that everything seems to be made of these days?

      You can print in nylon, ABS or PLA, and a few folk have used less convenient things like polycarbonate and various flavours of polyethylene. None of these will have any mould-release chemicals in them so they should be a little more amenabe to gluing, and stuff like nylon and ABS is pretty standard stuff and there'll be lots of adhesives available. PLA (the classic 'hammered snot' look ) has a glass transition point comfortably below that of boiling water, so it is pretty straightfoward to heat it up to do some sorts of repairs.

      1. Cliff

        Re: Does this use the same plastic that everything seems to be made of these days?

        Does this make PLA a candidate for not bothering with the printer and just modeling the hot plastic by hand?

        1. PC Paul

          Re: Does this use the same plastic that everything seems to be made of these days?

          Have a look at PolyMorph, plastic granules that you can melt down in warm/hot water then form by hand. Tough as Nylon when it's done, but can be melted and resued many times.

          Places like Maplins sell it in the UK.

          1. tomban

            Re: Places like Maplins sell it in the UK.

            Why would a Holiday Camp sell it?

        2. graeme leggett Silver badge

          Re: Does this use the same plastic that everything seems to be made of these days?

          If you're not going to use the printer then why not use Milliput instead of the plastic.

          1. Richard Cranium

            Re: Does this use the same plastic that everything seems to be made of these days?

            Can I put in a good word for Sugru too (pity about its short shelf life tho'). And there's always used chewing gum...

      2. Jaybus

        Re: Does this use the same plastic that everything seems to be made of these days?

        What is needed is a means to bond glass, carbon, etc. fiber layers, or better still, metal layers. The ability to print composite materials would make it far more useful.

        1. AlanB

          Re: Does this use the same plastic that everything seems to be made of these days?

          There are 3-D printers that will do metal (laser sintering). Not at the home hobbyist level though.

  5. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    Spoon holder...

    My wife has a spoon holder. A nasty cheap plastic affair. I know this as I melted one side of it by leaving the thing too near the hob. The smell of burning plastic ruined the glorious smell of fried bacon.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spoon holder...

      My wife has a spoon holder. A nasty cheap plastic affair.

      I have a spoon holder. It's made of hand.

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: Spoon holder...

        I have a high-tech ceramic monocoque spoon holder; it's very resistant to heat and features a handle as well.

      2. Phil W

        Re: Spoon holder...

        "I have a spoon holder. It's made of hand."

        Dying of laughter over this. Don't know but it's just hilarious.

        1. Havin_it

          Re: Spoon holder...

          Same here - can't help thinking of Private Eye's "Me and My Spoons" feature as I read this...

          NEXT WEEK

          Trevor Pott: Me and My Pot

    2. Tom Womack

      Re: Spoon holder...

      At least burning PLA has a pleasant milky stench.

      The problem with PLA for household goods is that it melts at about 50C; if you stick a 3D-printed thing in the dishwasher it comes out a bit Dali, if you try to 3D-print coasters you find you have made expensive and attractive stick-on bottoms for your coffee cups.

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: Spoon holder...

        @Tom - not sure where you got those numbers from. The two common 3D printed materials (PLA and ABS) have melting points well above 100C (160-170C for PLA and 200-220 for ABS), through PLA softens at between 60-65C and ABS at 105-110C.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spoon holder...

      Get an induction hob, they don't emit so much heat around the cooking area.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Spoon holder...

        get a ceramic spoon holder

        they are cheaper than a new stove

    4. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Spoon holder...

      Hey don't knock spoon rests. I have a nice ceramic one, use it all the time, saves me wiping the kitchen counter AND wipes clean really easily so no dishwashing required. Time saver all round.

      No way in hell would I have a cheap plastic one, though, some stuff like tomato sauce stains plastic really easily

      1. Jediben

        Re: Spoon holder...

        I have one as well - it doubles as a used teabag.

      2. chrisf1

        Re: Spoon holder...

        A ceramic spoon rest? I think i have a whole set. I call them plates and saucers ....

        1. Jim 59

          Re: Spoon holder...

          Only a short comment as I am busy holding a spoon

  6. RobHib

    What a lot of rubbish.

    I've seen this technology working firsthand - both the plastic and metal versions--I've metal thingies on my desk made this way. Whilst its fascinating, its level of sophistication (and current state of the art), especially in integrating different materials and technologies within printed components, is about as sophisticated as an ancient crystal set is compared to a modern internet TV or smart phone.

    Wake me up when the model comes out where I can dial up a glass of wine or a beer followed by an aspirin--or any other drug for that matter. And where the deluxe model can print me out an iPhone or a new laptop.

    In the meantime, I'm not interested in novelty roughcast plastic junk.

    Like all technology, it'll takes a good 50+ years to be truly useful.

    1. RobHib

      Re: What a lot of rubbish.

      Oh, and I forgot. Just wait until the copyright and patent police start policing objects made this way. If you think software and AV copyright is bad enough now, home manufacturing of commonplace items will I'll be a bloody nightmare because of potential IP issues.

      For starters, every machine will be nobbled for copyright and patent protection--not to mention nobbled from manufacturing items the state considers to be 'nasties' - AK47s for instance. The list will be huge.

      1. Justicesays
        Thumb Up

        Re: What a lot of rubbish.

        I recommend this for more information on the policing of makers in the near future....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Open source and Pirate Bay to the rescue

        There isn't any way they can conceivably lock this down the way some seem to think. There will surely be some alternate open source designs for a lot of items - though for specialty stuff you'll need to pay for designs - similar to software today where you can get a free database but if you need something like SAP you'll have to buy it.

        If they try to produce hardware so locked down that it will only make DRM designs, it'll be hacked eventually, just like locked down software in consumer products DVD, Blu Ray, PS3, etc. is always inevitably hacked.

        If the IP holders are smart, they won't try to have the 3D printers totally locked down, otherwise when they're inevitably hacked we'll all be trading commercial design files on Pirate Bay, rather than some people designing their own open source or shareware design files.

    2. BongoJoe

      Re: What a lot of rubbish.

      This article reminds me of that (thankfully) short lived craze in the 70s when everyone and dog was encapulating stuff in clear resin.

      Jewellry? Yes, have a sea horse in a block of stuff (with the obligatory fingerprint). Something to put on the mantlepiece? Yes, have a seahorse and a shell in a clear block with a bit of seaweed.

      Car key organiser? Well, it's called a keyfob and, guess what? We can make you one with a sea horse set in an attractive clear block.

      Looking for that diamond ring of your late mother? Well, look no further because little Johnny has encapsulated in clear resin along with a sea horse.

      I am looking over my desk now to see what I have here that could be printed in white snot. Er, nothing. Could I use my car keys to be organised with white snotted plastic? Well, no, they are all kept on one keyring and they can't get more organised that that. No sorry, a great invention but not there yet.

      1. mitch 2

        Re: What a lot of rubbish.

        I made an ashtray with embedded threepenny bits. Luckily did not include any of my mum's jewelry.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What a lot of rubbish.

          > threepenny bits

          thrupenny bits


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What a lot of rubbish.

            THREEPENNY BITS! (But pronounced the way you think it is.)



          2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
            Paris Hilton

            thrupenny bits

            thrupenny bits, isn't that rhyming slang?

            I know what I'd print with my 3D printer (see icon), thrupenny bits and all.

            1. Rukario

              Re: thrupenny bits

              3D printer, 3d bits.

        2. Naughtyhorse

          Re: What a lot of rubbish.

          you made an ashtray out of boobs???


      2. RobHib

        @BongoJoe - Re: What a lot of rubbish.

        Correct. And I wasn't kidding about the copyright and patent issues either (it's not my idea). The fact is the IP police are already mightily concerned about the technology--so are governments. This technology has the potential to manufacture drugs--dial-a-drug--as well as alter/assemble/grow genetic material.

        Having it in the hands of the general public is causing much indigestion in administrative circles I can assure you.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          And I wasn't kidding about the copyright and patent issues either

          Well, you shouldn't be - it's a serious issue. If I spend money designing something to sell and someone scans it and gives away the specs, this is a problem.

          I see 3D printing should work something like sheet music - just because it's the music rather than a recording you still normally pay for it. Likewise if you want to make something I designed, pay me for the blueprints.

          1. Loyal Commenter

            Re: And I wasn't kidding about the copyright and patent issues either

            Well, you shouldn't be - it's a serious issue. If I spend money designing something to sell and someone scans it and gives away the specs, this is a problem.

            On the other hand, if you buy something, and a cheap plastic part inside it breaks, because it was designed to wear out to fleece you for money for a replacement part, then being able to make your own replacement is the opposite of a problem, n'est-ce-pas?

          2. Jaybus

            Re: And I wasn't kidding about the copyright and patent issues either

            Yes, well, some of us don't believe you should get a patent for a spoon holder.

      3. Jim 59

        Re: What a lot of rubbish.

        Plasticraft was awesome.

    3. Mtech25

      Re: What a lot of rubbish.

      but it can make spoon holders as well no doubt humanity desperate quest for spoon holder has been fulfilled praise be unto the 3d printers providers of spoon holders!

      Yeah I will get my coat it is one full of spoons.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a lot of rubbish.

      You forget why this stuff was invented, prototyping.

      Yes it will be nice to print out circuits and devices. But even the terminator from T2 couldn't form complex shapes and machines "it doesn't work that way", but the one in T3 could.

      1. User McUser

        Re: What a lot of rubbish.

        "the terminator from T2 couldn't form complex shapes and machines [...] but the one in T3 could."

        *pushes glasses up* Actually, T3's "T-X" is a hybrid of a Series 900 chassis surrounded with the mimetic-polyalloy of the T-1000. The advanced weapons are built into the base chassis and the polyalloy allows it to imitate human appearance for infiltration. (See also:

    5. Steve Todd

      Re: What a lot of rubbish.

      Depends on the version of the technology you are talking about. Laser sintering is good enough to make parts for jet and rocket engines so I wouldn't hurry to write it off. As it happens the patents for that type of manufacture expire next year, so expect to see it get rapidly cheaper.

    6. Naughtyhorse

      Re: print me out an iPhone

      The technology for that is a piece of piss, but have you seen the EULA?

  7. Mtech25

    Ithings indeed

    A lot of Iphone parts which you can make from plastic but what happens if you don't own an Iphone, in order to save more money will you need to buy an Iphone first?

    In which case here a simple solution don't buy the 3d printer then you won't need to buy an Iphone and you will end up saving a load of cash, can i have my PHD in economics now please?

    1. jacobbe

      my thoughts exactly.

      my thoughts exactly.

      A summary of the article is "you can print lots of useful things that you dont need, dont want, have not use for, or dont function properly because they require the purchase of additional parts such as cables which cant be printed"


      1. strum

        Re: (not quite) my thoughts exactly.

        But we all have appliances, gadgets, stuff-in-general, which don't work any more, or don't work well - becuase some trivial litle part has broken; a hinge, which is supposed to stay open, but doesn't, because the lug that props it up has broken off, an appliance, which would work fine, but you can't get it open, because the handle has snapped, maybe something that would look good hanging on the wall - but there's no standard fitting for a hook.

        3D printers may still be some way from being the standard Lexmark in the corner of many home offices, but if you had one now, you'd think of something useful to do with it.

    2. Steve Todd

      Re: Ithings indeed

      You can equally well make parts for your Android device of choice, it's not iPhone specific.

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: Ithings indeed

        Interesting that my last post was voted down. Do Android owners not need cases and docks, or are they complaining that they can't find STL files for their device?

  8. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Hobbyist market

    I could see a use for it in hobbyist markets, for example, to add to or to repair collections with items that have plastic in them. 30 year old plastic components become quite brittle and it can be difficult to find them used, let alone new.

    There are those who pay big money for Apple Is and a 3-D printer might help those interested in replicas.

  9. hplasm

    Pay £££££-

    and put Poundland out of business...

  10. Great Bu

    "you might 3D-print some shower-curtain rings"

    and then I can fill them with helium so they would be lighter......

  11. wowfood

    I could see

    A use for one in a public space, perhaps school / college / universities who have them could let others use them for a small fee.

    You want to print out a model you made? Sure that'll be $10 for the time to print, and another $10 for the materials.

    Cheaper than buying the printer yourself, the university / college who needs the printer gets to make some profit out of it. It's a win / win.

    1. Magister
      Thumb Up

      Re: I could see

      SAP of all people were working on exactly this. There's even a video of the process; can't post a link due to corporate restrictions, but a search will probably find it.

      The video showed a woman breaking one of the knobs (oooerr missus!) on her washing machine; using a QR code on the side of the machine and her smartphone, it identified the make & model. This opened an app that allowed to select from repairs or spare's, then she was able to select the relevant part. Create the order and the back office system places an order with a local college to "print" off one of the replacments. Once done, it sends the woman an email to confirm so that she can collect.

      So need for anyone to keep loads of spares that may never be needed; just make it as needed. As you say, the college / university / school gets to make a small amount of money in the process. All makes a lot of sense. (Plus no issues over IP as the printing is done under licence)

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. RobHib

      Re: Goods

      Exactly, except for teaspoons! As we know, they mysteriously disappear by themselves to an undiscovered planet where they now cover its surface to a depth of some 15 feet. ;-)

    2. Darryl
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Goods

      They need spoon rests and iPhone docks in space?

      1. Mtech25

        Re: Goods

        Absolutely vital for space travel almost as important as a Towel

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've a busness model!

    Says its a "self-replicating rapid prototyper"

    So buy one for (lets keep numbers simple) £400. Buy enough "ingredients" for it to "self-replicate" and make another 4 copies. As its meant to save loads of money lets assume you need £100 of "ingredients" to make each copy. So total cost now = £800. Sell the 4 copies to other people for £400 each (the "going rate") and you get £1600 in so have a clear profit of £800 - double your money and get a 3D printer for free!

    But why would anyone buy one from you - simple - just explain how they can double there money and get a free 3D printer by following a simple series of steps. Add in the possibility of sorting out some form of profit sharing on sale/distribution on the "ingredients" for the printers then you add in an ongoing cash stream. What could possibly go wrong .... excuse me, I need to finish the business plan section for my Apprentice application form!

    1. Loyal Commenter

      Re: I've a busness model!

      Bernie, is that you?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the price comes down and 3d scanners also are affordable I can see a use for these.

    How often have you had a plastic component of something snap and you can't get a replacement? yes you can glue it together but it isn't always as good afterwards. Now if you glue it together then scan it you can make a replacement.

    Durability is one thing I'd be concerned about, I'm not sure if the "grain" in a 3d printed object will help its durability vs a moulded item.

  15. offal

    " (e.g. a safety razor, for example, costs US$20–80 online)"

    When the paper's author starts with a premise that can be so easily disproved (many at £4) it not only calls into question the examples he's using for this "study". It seriously casts doubt on their integrity.

    To do this with the aim of promoting your hobby casts doubt on your intelligence.

    Isn't designing and modelling your own stuff a worthy aim in itself ? Do you really need to make stuff up about how it's also economically viable ?

    1. fishman

      I'm really cheap. I buy my razors at the dollar store - $1 for a dozen disposible razors.

      1. graeme leggett Silver badge


        your chin must be made of heroic stuff.

        i nick my skin just looking at cheap razors.

        1. strum

          Don't use shaving foam, then. Use Baby oil (seriously).

          You may need to shave twice, for an equivalent effect, but you won't damage your skin (and a cheapo razor will last months, because it doesn't rust).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        My straight razor cost ~200 euros and I expect it to last a lifetime.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          ...I expect it to last a lifetime.

          on account of you sneezing at an inopportune moment one day and inadvertently decapitating yourself?

    2. Eddy Ito

      A safety razor! Good luck getting on an airplane with that and not spending a good 10 minutes in secondary screening as they pull everything out looking for and not finding the blades.

  16. Chris Miller

    But will it print

    a telephone earpiece sanitizer?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1) buy a printer.

    2) print a gun.

    3) ?????

    4) Profit.

    1. lurker

      Given that Step 3 is probably..

      3) Permanently lose the use of your hand when it fails spectacularly.

      ..I'm not sure that your step 4 is accurate.

      1. MrPatrick

        Step 4 profit ... to sue the person responsible for the design or distribution of the CAD drawing, the people or persons responsible for not advising that printing guns is not supported by cheap snot-plastic

        then selling your story to low brow tech tabloid websites who can have another cheap shot at emerging technologies...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        step 3.5) claim on life insurance..

      3. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Permanently lose the use of your hand when it fails spectacularly

        Hence the need for the spoon holder.

  18. Dave W

    In other news

    In the year 2017, the bottom falls out of the 3D printer market when someone realises that you can use your second generation 3D printer to manufacture other 3D printers...

  19. Cuddles

    20 ways to save even more money

    Don't buy pointless shit you don't need.

    I should totally publish this. I wonder if Nature will take it.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 20 ways to save even more money

      How dare you sir - this is el' reg

      If we stopped buying shiny toys we didn't need where would the IT industry be?

  20. Arachnoid

    3D Prints

    Now if they brought out a model that made 3D style prints from your camera images that might catch on

    1. Anonymous Blowhard
      Paris Hilton

      Re: 3D Prints

      Good idea; finally a Paris angle...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not if...

    Not if all you print is that tool for squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube.

  22. RISC OS

    The kind of people....

    that can afford to buy that iSh!t stuff probably don't want to print the stuff themselves, they want to buy branded crap.

    1. hplasm

      Re: The kind of people....

      But surely people in the 3d world would want a 3d printer...?

  23. RISC OS

    The first thig I would make if I had a 3d printer

    would be 3d rubbish bin to throw the crap in.

  24. Alexander Hanff 1

    Twin blades shave you better?

    I would beg to differ with that statement. Last summer I switched to an old traditional safety razor (because I moved countries and the cost of my usual Gillette heads are incredibly expensive in my new country of residence) and was pleasantly surprised to find that actually I get a far better shave with it than I did with my previous Branded 2, 3 and 4 blade razors.

    Granted the first couple of times the bathroom looked like a scene out of Sweeney Todd because the Wilkinson Sword blades are incredibly sharp and you have to change the way you shave a bit - but once I got the hang of it I have never looked back.

    5 blades costs me the equivalent of £1 and I shave 2-3 times a week (too lazy to do it more frequently) - a single blade lasts me several weeks with -full- (part from legs obviously) body shave once a week so from a single 5 pack I get a good 2 months usage. The razor handle/head cost me also the equivalent of £1 so in total I spend around £6 a year on razor blades with an initial investment of £1 for the tool to do it.

    When you consider that Gillette 4 blade heads here cost at least £11 for 3 (the cheapest ones, there are several types available now) which are good for about 3-4 shaves each before they start to get scratchy, it really is a no brainer

    1. mhoneywell

      Re: Twin blades shave you better?


    2. Michael Dunn

      Re: Twin blades shave you better?

      Alternatively, just grow a beard!

  25. Arachnoid


    See what savings you get for not following a wheres that fruit icon gone?

  26. Jason Togneri

    You're all missing the obvious!

    Think of Lego enthusiasts. Look at the market for custom minifigs and special bricks on eBay. Those things cost a fortune per brick. I can see being a real challenge for Lego, and other manufacturers of generic plastic toy parts. At the very least, you could clone out thousands of internal bricks and use the pretty Lego-branded ones for the visible outsides.

    But no, I don't really see it replacing common household items, and especially not iThing accessories, any time in the near future.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: You're all missing the obvious!

      Tolerance and material strength are nothing like good enough for lego bricks.

      Google the engineerign tests on them - amazing

    2. RealBigAl

      Re: You're all missing the obvious!

      Lego shareholders must be bricking it.....

  27. Steve Todd

    While I've seen some really crappy 3D prints

    They don't have to be bad. There's a trade-off between speed of printing and quality, and finishing can improve the results (acitone vapour gives ABS a nice, smooth, shiny finish for example). They also don't have to produce uninteresting utilitarian crud, there are some rather artistic example (see for examples).

    I think the authors overstated the usefullness of these devices to normal members of the public, but for creative types and people building their own devices they're a useful tool.

  28. Atonnis

    It's just too early

    The technology is just barely in it's infancy, and should be treated as such.

    Trying to get the public on board with printing out worthless tat is not the best way. Just keep getting the R&D grants and prove that you're making progress and one day you really will have fully 'printable' food and items that are worthwhile.

    3D printers will also drive other technologies as well, as people work on formats for the materials to print with in the first place. It has a huge future....but it's still decades away.

  29. Ben Norris

    A lot of luddites with no imagination here

    The finish is not great, does not stop you from prototyping a design with an excellent finish in ceramic, metal or wood from an online service. Also doesn't stop you from making structural replacements for a variety of things where finish doesn't really matter. Whatever happened to the make do and mend attitude?

    Manufacturing had moved on to a point where crafting sophisticated parts was out of our hands. 3D printing (and associated software) brings that back to us. Most knowlegeable people are not under the disillusion that this will replace bulk manufacturing, it is a complementary technology. And in it's infancy with lots of room for improvement.

    All the commentards here and the OP taking potshots because they don't get it really are the biggest dissapointment.

    1. Loyal Commenter

      Re: A lot of luddites with no imagination here

      All the commentards here and the OP taking potshots because they don't get it really are the biggest dissapointment.

      I think the reason people are taking pot-shots is that the usages which have been put forward (i.e. a crappy plastic case for a $400 phone) are laughable. True, there are plenty of good uses for such a device, such as, as you say, rapid prototyping, or replacing broken plastic parts. For most people, however, these don't justify the cost.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: A lot of <insert mild insult here> with no understanding of material science here

        If a plastic part becomes broken, it happened for a reason - i.e. it became overstressed.

        The composition of that plastic used in that component was selected for it's material properties <and cost> and the component was then designed with just enough material to do it's job <or praps slightly less> and it died.

        Yet you think you can make something from a different <mostly> material, selected so that it will work with the printer. produce a laminar physical copy of the original, end expect it to perform as well as the original?

        Never in a million years.

        these are prototyping tools, thats what they are good for. Enthusiasts will buy cheap ones and make all manner of plastic crap and have a whale of a time _doing_ it. and all power to their elbows! <having made the plastic crap, it will gather dust>

        A replicator from star trek it ain't, and never will be. and that is what the goofs in the <original> article are trying to allude to. And they deserve the lampooning they are receiving.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A lot of luddites with no imagination here

      "Most knowlegeable people are not under the disillusion that this will replace bulk manufacturing,"

      It's unfortunate that author of this study uses the replacement of bulk manufactured items to support his argument.

      Which has been debunked in the article and below the line. These people are luddites for agreeing with you ?

      Lets recap. The author of the study has misrepresented facts to suggest an item would save people money. That's pretty lousy behaviour from a snake-oil peddler, nevermind an academic.

    3. Naughtyhorse

      Whatever happened to the make do and mend attitude?

      errr... that would be the digital revolution dude!

      welcome to the 21'st century

  30. Zot

    I wanted one for years.

    Ever since they were £30000 each, oh wait the good 3D printers still are that price. These crappy little plastic melters are rubbish quality and really slow, so I think I'll wait a bit, thanks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wanted one for years.

      I think you'll find that these crappy plastic melters commerically cost £50k+ before people started making their own and were no better quality. Of course there will be high end alternatives but did you use the same logic and never buy a printer because it wasn't as good as the quality of a magazine?

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I wanted one for years.

      The formlabs 3d printer looks like it could be the first affordable (well if you don't have a wife to explain it to) one with decent quality

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Comparing tat with quality

    It's a false business case. You can't compare the cost of a professionally made, polished, quality product with some plastic tat which looks similar and does a similar function, and make the case that they are the equivalent value and cost. As such, the finance case for 3D printers does not stack up.

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: Comparing tat with quality

      We should test this statement: how many would here would buy a 3-D printer if they cost around $300 /$300/£200?

      I'd certainly get one out of curiousity, just to see its limits.

      1. Steve Todd

        Interesting you should mention that

        Take a look over here

        Starting price of $200 for a PLA only printer, or $300 for one with a heated bed that can manage ABS, nylon etc as well.

  32. Jim 59

    I see no ships

    Enthusiasm is great and all, but people get so carried away by some new tech they go into denial about how useless and undesirable it is. Known as the "3D TV" effect. Are we all having it with our smart phones ? This will cop a downvoting, but face it, we are all in love with the beautiful UI and just ignoring the glaring fact that they are not terrible, but just slightly rubbish. I have a Samsung S3.

  33. Martin Taylor 1


    Printing a safety razor out of plastic? You don't want to even *buy* one with any plastic in the handle - after a few weeks use it starts to deform slightly - suddenly the blade can't be clamped in place as hard as it was, and there's blood all over the shop (got the T-shirt, but had to bin it cos of all the blood).

    Sometimes there's no substitute for stainless steel.

  34. Sam Therapy

    I want one

    But not yet. When the tech gets better I' want to be able to print out my 3D models and make my own custom minuature Daleks.

    Yes, I could use Shapeways but I'd much prefer to do it all myself.

  35. Sam Therapy

    And, oh yeah...

    I use a 4 blade razor. Not overkill with my manly stubble. Best shave I ever had. Two blades just don't cut it. Pun very much intended.

  36. A Nother Handle

    Razors too expensive?

    Grow a beard.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Razors too expensive?

      look at amount of grey in beard (or worse still, how little colour left) - reach for razor and damn the price.

  37. Gene Cash Silver badge

    What is this, Slashdot?

    Didn't we have this story yesterday?

  38. Nifty Silver badge

    Dont try this at home

    Latest news is that the waste nanoparticles given off by these are very bad for you if your home is not industrially ventilated.

    How does a product recall work if you printed some of the parts on your mate's 3D printer?

  39. Naughtyhorse

    Use of tools???

    You did notice that pretty much all the crud they are touting is iCrud?

    As if a creative would do something as blue collar as.... errrr creating something!

    The very idea! you'll be telling me next that aerosols and car exhausts have broken the sky and we are all going to burn (well maybe one of you will :D)

  40. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    So much ipad junk...

    Title says it all.

    Anyway, I do think these printers are cool, but with articles like this (make your own non-functioning shower heads!) they do make themselves look rather silly.

  41. David Cantrell

    If you are that desperate to save a handful of pennies on shaving, just grow a beard and then either trim it with scissors that you already own, or get your barber to do it when he does your hair.

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