Reality Check. Here at RD3DPDS, I have done a lot of research and homework on 3D printing. There is a growing hobbyist market because there are a lot of printer equipment makers who have reduced cost of ownership of the printer. There are also a lot of start-up “fund me” groups who believe they can invent a better mousetrap. In the hobbyist market, they are all variations of proven Cartesian and Polar (Delta) formats.
None of them operate like an appliance or an automobile. That’s because they are highly technical and configurable tools. The ones sold as put together kits give a strong indication to a buyer that there are certainly some mechanical skills needed. But there are probably an equal number of 3D printers being offered as ready to run.
Just as the drone (Those small remote piloted helicopter things) hobby exploded with a lot of clueless purchasers, the 3D printing hobby industry is about to enjoy the same fate. The price point makes them attractive holiday presents for adults as well as their children.
The idea behind this website, is that perhaps I can help fill in the customer expectation chasm, that I suspect is going to explode like an Alaskan earthquake. I have been reading a few “User Reviews” from a scattering of new purchasers who are far behind the curve in understanding the requirements of what they have just purchased.
Early adapters of 3D printing knew what they were getting into. Some of the “newbies” are expecting a push the button and print experience. I read it in their review.
There is going to be a huge customer support issue, dealing with keeping these machines running. Absolutely nowhere have I ever seen even a mention of MTBF, Mean Time Between Failures for a 3D printer. What defines a failure? The print head falls off the printer or a print turns out fuzzy? It's all an owner expectation.
I enjoy the technical challenge. There are going to be customers who hate it.
I have been seeking a sponsor or two, to help defray the cost of operating a free website. We are not a for profit business. But I am thinking in this new industry, that may be hazardous position. If they collapse under the weight of poor customer support, I may have influenced a bad purchase on what may be a well designed machine.
I have labeled my present printer “Brand X” for this reason. I will defer sponsorship until the industry matures and manufacture reputations and brands are solid. Something to ponder…