3d printing is commonly viewed as an expensive emerging technology – however a new study by Michigan Technological University (MTU) shows that purchasing a 3d printer may actually make sound financial sense. The study found that a savings of up to $2,000 a year can be made by printing small everyday household objects instead of purchasing them from stores.

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In the study, researchers used the low-cost RepRap 3d printer to print open sourced designs from the MakerBot Thingiverse. The material cost was about $18 dollars for the 20 items printed in the feasibility study. According to the abstract, “The results show that even making the extremely conservative assumption that the household would only use the printer to make the selected 20 products a year the avoided purchase cost savings would range from about $300 to $2000/year.”

For a person with young kids, a 3d printer could be an invaluable tool when you consider how many times a year toys are purchased for a child.  The application goes far beyond toys, of course. Consider all the plastic objects an average person might buy in a year – from tablet and phone cases to earrings and other accessories – and the costs quickly add up.

The RepRap used in the study is a good example of an inexpensive 3d printer, and other affordable options are set to enter the market soon. For instance, pirate3D’s Buccaneer printer met its funding goal on June 29th and it will soon be available for pre-order for just $349.

Via Gizmodo