Buyer Beware of High Priced Industrial 3D Printers

Everyone can see that the 3D printing industry is in a state of flux. First off, the public has become rapidly aware of this technology over the last two years, even though it has existed for over two decades.  Publicly traded 3D printing companies are becoming Wall Street darlings, and new startups are setting crowd funding records on Kickstarter.  At the same time, low end Rep-rap inspired 3D printers are beginning to challenge established industrial players in the rapid prototyping industry.  While two years ago The Economist featured German 3D printing company EOS in its “Print me a Stradivarius” cover article, it was newcomer Makerbot that graced the cover of Wired Magazine last October.

So what does this mean to someone looking to buy a 3D printer? It means buyer beware.  Who wants to buy the last $80,000 machine before it is rendered obsolete by a $5000 alternative?

Formlabs vs 3DSystems

This is particularly true of larger, more expensive machines capable of producing large 3D printed parts.  Those machines can top $200,000 without break a sweat, but don’t think they aren’t also under pressure from disruptive new platforms.

All of this is to say that the days of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in one machine to be the flagship of a company’s 3D printing fleet are also dwindling.  And this means that once again, large format 3D printing is kept inaccessible due to the sheer lack of machines capable of building large 3D printed parts.  Clearly a new solution is needed.  Something more flexible for the owner and operator, and something that can be upgraded rapidly as new advances in 3D printing hit the market.

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