3D printing your household items could save you some serious cash, study finds

Whether it’s to give you an excuse to buy the latest piece of cool tech, genuine financial need, or (most likely) a combination of the two, you probably had the experience of gazing at some fancy new gadget and wondering whether the money it will save you could make it cost-neutral over time. This is frequently the claim of smart devices, which regularly advertise the cash they can save customers by cutting down on wasted resources around the house.

At Michigan Technological University, Associate Professor Joshua Pearce recently decided to explore that question using 3D printers.

“For years we’ve been using 3D printers to print high-end scientific equipment in our lab,” he told Digital Trends. “It’s very easy to show that if you use an affordable 3D printer, you can make your money back by printing thousands of dollars of scientific equipment over the course of just one weekend. But we wanted to find out was whether there would be a similar benefit for normal, everyday consumers using 3D printers.”

Even in the past few years, Pearce noted that the number of freely available 3D printable models for everyday items has exploded online. Yes, there are still plenty of replica lightsabers and other objects which aren’t going to necessarily improve your life on a day-to-day basis, but there are also shower heads, kitchen utensils, light switches, sporting equipment, and many others that can function in your daily activities.

For the study, Pearce decided to give Emily Peterson, an undergrad student majoring in material science and engineering, a new LulzBot Mini 3D printer without any instructions, and information about where she could find downloadable models. She then printed out items ranging from GoPro camera mounts to Dremel tools, after which she and Pearce ran high-cost and low-cost price comparisons.

Low-cost comparisons saved users an average of 93 percent per item, while high-cost items saved an average of a massive 98.65 percent.

“If you’re not printing high-value items, if you’re just printing normal consumer goods that you might pick up at Walmart, you can make your money back in three years — even if you choose the lowest cost items available online,” Pearce said. “If you choose higher-end custom items, it’ll pay for itself within six months, provided that you print one item a week. In that case, you’d save more than $12,000 over a printer’s five-year lifecycle.”

The fact that a customer could earn close to a 1,000 percent return on their 3D printer investment over half a decade is, frankly, amazing — and proof positive that 3D printers can be much, much more than a luxury item for buyers.

We may not yet be at the tipping point at which every home has additive manufacturing facilities, but at this rate, it is not going to be long before they do. After all, it makes perfect business sense.

Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Cars

From Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini, these are the most expensive cars in the world

If you recently discovered an oil reserve in your backyard, you probably have some extra cash to spend. Look no further, because we’ve rounded up the most expensive cars in the world.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Product Review

DJI has always been the king of drones, and the new Mavics are almost perfect

After flying both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom for over a week, we’re convinced that these are two of the best drones that DJI has ever made.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Emerging Tech

Smarter cities need smarter addresses. And you just need 3 words

To make really smart transportation choices, more precise location data will have to be integrated with citywide transportation data. Here’s how one company is mapping the world by using just three words.
Emerging Tech

Ghostly galaxy discovered lurking on the edge of the Milky Way

A team of astronomers from the University of Cambridge have discovered a strange galaxy next door to the Milky Way. The dwarf galaxy, named Antlia 2, is dark and dim and gives out much less light than expected.
Emerging Tech

Ancient crater the size of NYC discovered under the Greenland ice sheet

A huge crater has been discovered beneath the ice of Greenland, and is thought to be the result of a meteorite impact millions of years ago. The crater is one of the largest ever discovered, measuring 19 miles across.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how the InSight mission to Mars will confirm its landing to NASA

NASA's InSight mission has sent a lander to Mars. NASA researchers have now shared details on how they will monitor the touching down of the lander at the end of its 91 million mile journey.
Emerging Tech

Would you swap your keycard for a microchip implant? For many, the answer is yes

Put down your keycard! More people are turning to implanted RFID chips as their choice of workplace identification. Should we be worried about a world in which employees get microchipped?
Outdoors

‘Super magnesium’ may be the next wonder material for outdoor gear

Super Magnesium is a wonder material that is 30 percent lighter than aluminum, as strong as carbon fiber, cheaper to make, and 100-percent recyclable, making it much better for the environment.