Printers are like coffee machines

Well, there is a lot of hype and information about 3D printers around at the moment, as per our last blog post. However, we all need to note that they are similar to many modern machines, and we need to consider the same issues before jumping on the bandwagon and purchasing one. Like standard printers – and coffee machines – the upfront cost is only a very small part of the total cost of the machine over its lifetime (commonly referred to as TCO – total cost of ownership – when talking about technology).

Consider the cost of a printer, coffee machine or 3D printer initially. Currently, most of these can be bought for somewhere between a couple of hundred and a thousand dollars, depending on the detail that we require. For a standard printer, you will pay far more for the paper and printer cartridges that you use to keep printing. For a coffee machine, the coffee pods or ground coffee and filter papers will cost far more than the machine itself. And for a 3D printer, you will either be using plastic or metal depending on the work being carried out, but again the materials cost will be much greater than the initial cost of the printer.

So, like any technology purchase, you need to look into the ongoing costs as well as the upfront outlay – because the TCO is much more related to the ongoing costs.

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