3D printers are revolutionizing the future – from how people work, what they drive, where they live, and even what they eat. This nifty invention often helps budding designers and entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life by allowing them to create prototypes. However, they commonly wonder whether buying their own printer would be economical. This prompted Rahul Singh Dhari, a mechanical engineer and 3D printing enthusiast, to create the 3D Printer Buy vs. Outsource Calculator.
Dhari teamed up with Arturo Barrantes, a finance expert, to estimate the cost of printing 3D models by buying one’s own FDM 3D printer vs. ordering them from a third-party service. After comparing their expenses, it then recommends which option will save users the most money.
It has two modes: First, an educational/personal use version for students, teachers, and designers that allows them to see whether it’s worth buying their own 3D printer; and second, a commercial version for entrepreneurs that take into account their manufacturing costs and selling price to analyze their breakeven point. The creators included the most affordable 3D printers as choices. However, there is a custom option to allow users to enter their own prices. There is even an advanced option in the tool for users who wish to include the printer’s electricity consumption.
“As a student, I believe that while 3D printers are helpful for modeling, I understand that it’s not cost-efficient for everyone. Many designers and entrepreneurs would like to buy a printer for their prototypes; however, they have trouble deciding whether they should buy their own or outsource the 3D printing. Hence, I wanted to scientifically let them compare their options.” said Dhari.
Rahul Singh Dhari and Arturo Barrantes are both web content developers for the Omni Calculator Project, an initiative composed of scientists, doctors, engineers, and researchers worldwide, working together to build tools that help people make more rational and well-informed decisions.