By Jason Vander Griendt

June 19, 2016 at 8:14 am

If you’re wondering where you can buy (or even whether you should buy) a 3D printer like this Maker Bot this article will help! And if you’ve ever wondered when 3D printing was first invented, check out this article.

If you’ve ever thought about getting into 3D printing, you’ve probably considered whether you should buy your own 3d printer, or whether it would be better to outsource your work to a professional 3d printing service (like us here at Jcad!). There are lots of things to take into consideration when working through this decision:

  • whether 3d printing is going to be a hobby or a business
  • economies of scale (are you making a few items or many)
  • how long it will take you to recoup the costs of the printer
  • ongoing costs of materials
  • whether you have or can develop the skills to create the files needed to print from, etc.

Depending on your answers to these questions, you might decide that it would actually be better to own a 3D printer rather than outsourcing to someone else.

If this is the case, then you’re going to need to do some research. There are all sorts and sizes of 3d printers to choose from depending on how you want to use them. First things first, head on over to Google, Amazon, and eBay and read as much as you can about the different models available, but also check out their reviews. Look for websites that specifically talk about the different types and models of printer available, but keep in mind that these sites often recommend certain brands based on the affiliate commissions they can earn rather than on the quality of the printer itself. Ideally you want to look for sites that are run by 3d printing aficionados who really care about the industry and aren’t just writing or reviewing to make a quick buck.

Once you find some of these websites, you’ll quickly realize there is tons of information to absorb. As hinted at above, there are some important points to consider that can orient your research, and help you to determine whether you should be getting a 3D printer or not. Check out the following points in more detail below:

3D Printer Price is Not Everything

3d printers can be pretty pricey, but there are more factors than cost to consider. There’s a common misconception that higher cost = higher quality and in some cases this is true. More expensive machines print at higher resolution, but it’s important to determine what quality of machine do you need. It’s like a big screen TV. You could spend heaps and get ultra high definition, but for a fraction of the price you can get a screen with good resolution that suits everyday viewing. Once the point of diminishing returns is hit, then the quality only goes up a little for a lot more money. As well as price you need to consider the size. How big an item do you need to print? Most people can get away with fairly small, reasonably affordable printers. If you want to 3d print a house out of concrete though, you’re looking at a huge machine and millions of dollars!

Is a 3D printer a worthwhile investment?

And should you try and save money now at the risk of spending more in the future? This can be thought of as a continuation of the previous point. Even though you will have to spend a significant amount of your hard-earned cash to pick up a printer, you can look at it as an investment rather than an expense. If you will be selling your printed items and know your net profit per item, you can figure out how many you’ll need to sell to break even. If you are 3d printing a huge amount of products though it can be much cheaper to outsource, and even to consider 3d printing for prototyping purposes before looking into mass production and manufacturing. You also need to consider ongoing repairs and maintenance. While spending more upfront on a high quality printer can reduce maintenance fees in the long term, maintenance is a headache you don’t have to worry about if outsourcing your work (imagine posting a huge 3d printer back to the factory for repairs…

How hard is it to learn CAD design?

When looking to buy a 3D printer, it is important that you understand your needs and abilities first. Even though going for the flashiest model might seem to be quite practical, it is important that you take a step back and think it through. First you need to determine your ultimate goals and abilities. Does the printer you’ve got your eye on print from the type of CAD files you have the ability to create? If not, what is the equivalent cost of developing those skills vs. outsourcing?

While all this research will take time, thought and effort it’s definitely worth it in the long run. After all, is it better to rush a decision and get something that you don’t need or won’t suit your requirements, or to take your time, get good value for money and find something that suits your needs and abilities?

All the best with finding that perfect 3 d printer!

P.S. If this all seems too hard we’re here for you. We can create your 3d files if you’re doing your own printing, or look after the whole process from start to finish. 

We’ve been in this industry for years, so if you need advice on a particular type of printer give us a call and let’s chat!


Find out what you can make with a 3D printer here.

Jason Vander Griendt

Jason Vander Griendt is a Mechanical Engineering Technician with years of experience working at major companies such as SNC Lavalin Inc, Hatch Ltd. Siemens and Gerdau Ameristeel. He is the CEO of JCAD – Inc., a company he started in 2006 after seeing a gap in the market for businesses who could assist clients through the entire product design and manufacturing process.

Jason has been featured in Forbes, has had his businesses analyzed and discussed in multiple start-up books, was a previous winner of the Notable8 Digital Innovator of the year award, and is a regular guest on business panels and podcasts. Email Jason at or follow him on LinkedIn.

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