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Technologies 2017, 5(1), 7; doi:10.3390/technologies5010007

Emergence of Home Manufacturing in the Developed World: Return on Investment for Open-Source 3-D Printers

1
Department of Material Science and Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
2
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Salvatore Brischetto, Paolo Maggiore and Carlo Giovanni Ferro
Received: 13 January 2017 / Revised: 30 January 2017 / Accepted: 6 February 2017 / Published: 9 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Additive Manufacturing Technologies and Applications)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1212 KB, uploaded 9 February 2017]   |  

Abstract

Through reduced 3-D printer cost, increased usability, and greater material selection, additive manufacturing has transitioned from business manufacturing to the average prosumer. This study serves as a representative model for the potential future of 3-D printing in the average American household by employing a printer operator who was relatively unfamiliar with 3-D printing and the 3-D design files of common items normally purchased by the average consumer. Twenty-six items were printed in thermoplastic and a cost analysis was performed through comparison to comparable, commercially available products at a low and high price range. When compared to the low-cost items, investment in a 3-D printer represented a return of investment of over 100% in five years. The simple payback time for the high-cost comparison was less than 6 months, and produced a 986% return. Thus, fully-assembled commercial open source 3-D printers can be highly profitable investments for American consumers. Finally, as a preliminary gauge of the effect that widespread prosumer use of 3-D printing might have on the economy, savings were calculated based on the items’ download rates from open repositories. Results indicate that printing these selected items have already saved prosumers over $4 million by substituting for purchases. View Full-Text
Keywords: distributed manufacturing; additive manufacturing; 3-D printing; consumer; economics; open-source distributed manufacturing; additive manufacturing; 3-D printing; consumer; economics; open-source
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Petersen, E.E.; Pearce, J. Emergence of Home Manufacturing in the Developed World: Return on Investment for Open-Source 3-D Printers. Technologies 2017, 5, 7.

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