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Do 3D Printers Work or Is This a Future Thing?

Updated on February 29, 2016

Do 3D Printers Work?

Believe it or not, this question is still being asked in various places. “Do 3D printers work?” For me, I think it is because when people ask me … What do I do for a hobby?”, I tell them that I enjoy designing things and printing them on my 3D printer. That is when I get the question, or something similar to it like, “Does a 3D printer really work? I thought that was all hype about something to come in the future!”

3D printers are available now & they do really work. You can go to "YouTube" and find a vast number of people who have made videos of their 3D printers in action. Check out this video of a 3D printer in action. Nice!

Printing a Cocoon Vase

But then the shoe drops; because the next time I see them, I hear this statement … “I did not think that a [3D] printer would cost some much!” And it is true. 3D printers can be very expensive. Costing upward to $5000 for a desktop version. But you need to realize that there is a low end price as well. You can get an assemble 3D printer for around $400 easily.

My MendelMax v1.0 3D Printer

Desktop 3D Printer
Desktop 3D Printer | Source

Does Low Price Mean Low Quality

Then comes the next statement which is … “Yeah! But a cheap printer means a low quality product!” That statement is not necessarily true. Just like any product, you do have to be careful what you buy. I believe the proper quote is, “Buyer Beware!” But, if you know what you are looking for, you can find a nice assembled (or kit if that is what you are looking for) at a reasonably (cheap) price.

When I assembled my 3D printer back in 2012, it cost me $589 dollars (minus shipping charges) to build the printer. But now, you can buy either complete kits (also called, 3D DIY printers) for well under that price.

If you are not into building your own 3D printer, you could purchase a completely (or partially) assembled unit and still keep the price under $600!

But there are some things that you should know about 3D printers before you run off and purchase a 3D printer regardless of what form you purchase it in (DIY, partially assembled, or completely assembled form).

The main component of a 3D printer that will effect the price of the unit is the platform (or build) area. This is the space that the printer uses to lay down the material layer-by-layer until the object is completely printed. The larger the build area, the more the printer can cost.

Their are other things to look for when purchasing a 3D printer. Like a heated platform (also called the “bed”), which is needed when printing with materials other than PLA (a biodegradable plastic). The type of control panel the printer has, and the functions that the control panel can do, and other things, will also effect the price.

Things to Look For in a 3D Printer

If you are going to get a 3D printer, then there are a few things you should look for in the device. Checks you should make to ensure that the 3D printer you are interested in can do the following.

  1. Buy a desktop 3D printer with the biggest build area you can afford.

  2. Has a frame made of metal.

  3. Make sure that the printer you are interested in can print using different materials.

  4. Self leveling platform.

  5. Self-calibrating. (calibrating a printer can be a headache you do not need).

    --- the following are more of; nice to haves ---

  6. Can support printing with more than one material at a time. (Dual Extruder)

  7. Is upgradeable. If your printer is in a cabinet, it may NOT be upgradeable. In my opinion, this is a future feature. Not really applicable now. Just wanted you to be aware of it.

  8. Includes a laser engraver. Which means that the printer can double as a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine. 3D printers are additive machines. They add material to create the object. CNC machines are subtractive machines. They remove material to create the object.

Unboxing of a 3D Printer requiring partial assembly

What Do I Print With It

But to me, the most important question to ask about a 3D printer is, “What do you want to do with it?” Many who want a 3D printer, find that they cannot answer this question … yet! The reason they are unable to answer that question, is because they are not sure what is possible, and they are unsure what the future holds in the way of what they may want to print.

For me, this is a simple question with a simple answer. I enjoy trying to invent things. So this makes a 3D printer a "must have" tool for myself. But also, I have messed-up feet. I can still get around with no problems, save one. I cannot find a shoe that fits my foot properly. Now, I could have custom shoes made; which will cost me around $200-$300 a pair. Or I could just print my own shoes. I think you can figure out where this is going.


3D printers do work, and they work well. You may find that using a 3D printer inspires you to create more things for your everyday world. You just need to learn about 3D printers, and be cautious when buying the type of 3D printer you want.

I hope you found this information useful. Please leave a comment below, or ask any question(s) you have about 3D printers and I will try to get an answer for you. Also, check out my blog at “Do 3D Printers Work?” if you need more in-depth information about 3D printers. Thanks for stopping in.


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