Maintenance and material costs for these printers, at least Objet, are really high. A full set of print material is about $800 for 2kg of solid and support material, and yearly "maintenance" is about $4000. You have to buy new materials every year because it expires, and you'll probably need the maintenance because the printers break easily.
We have had an Objet printer for 3 years now and it's been down about 30% of the time. When the system is working it produces quality parts, but the maintenance and operational costs are prohibitive. If a school system wants a 3D printer, they should look at other lower-maintenance systems.
Kids will definitely find applications for 3D printers when the price hits the right point. Remember when people asked why they would need a PC? In the beginning, the standard response was, "You can store recipes with it." Luckily, we've found other applications for PCs since then.
Glad to see Objet coming out with a smaller, economy version. I really liked the fine part detail from the previous version of this printer and I anticipate this product will produce good detail as well.
Material replacement costs can be a little on the pricey side, but prudent use of the machine and the savings in development time can certainly help offset these expenditures.
At $30K for a single printer, the school system could now purchase three pretty comparable units for the three high schools. Your district is foresighted enough to invest in this technology and I'm hoping my school district will soon do the same. This technology is sure to captivate kids and inspire them to do great things.
Beth, just like all other electronic devices, these are coming down in price and increasing in features. Our school district spent $30K a year or two ago for a 3D printer for the STEM program. There are three high schools in the district, and they share the printer. It is a useful tool. But now it looks like they could have something better for much less. Well, I guess the next one they buy will be something like this. You would be suprised at what these students are coming up with.
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