Here are the 3 top things to know about the 3D Printing revolution:
1. The up-front investment is significant, but running costs are low. Consumer-grade desktop 3-D printers range from $500 to about $3,500. Once this investment is made, then the plastic material is relatively cheap. This material is purchased in rolls that are about $30 per roll. Each roll can print 25-30 solid iPhone-sized objects. Printing ‘low-infill’ can make your printing more efficient, which means that the objects printed are hollow or contain a honeycomb-like structure that maintains structural integrity while saving on material costs.
2. 3-D modeling skills are a must. The printer and the plastic are only half the battle. For true developmental freedom, the end user must learn to use a 3-D modeling program. There are free software options like Google Sketchup, Blender and others. The learning curve is steep, but the freedom of having the ability to build your own parts is indescribable.
The surprising fact is that most people printing objects at home do not know how to use a 3-D modeling program. Websites contain thousands of free models that you can download and print at home for free. However, many of them will not help innovators that want to develop their own custom products.
3. 3-D printers are not completely consumer-friendly yet. No matter what 3D printer you choose, there will be atinkering necessary to be able to develop accurate, fast prints. However, this is not rocket science. If you are able to change a bike chain, then you will have the technical ability necessary to tune a 3-D printer and develop beautiful, accurate parts. However, this is quickly changing as the 3D Printing Industry matures.