The Limitations of 3D Printing at Home

 In Digital, Videos

From the Archive: This post was originally published in 2014 about events in 2011!

As you might know if you’ve been following 3Deal’s exploits, we were founded originally in 2011 as a 3D printing company. Of course we’ve now developed into a full-service digital services agency. So fast forward 3 years and I was browsing in WHSmith last week and bought ‘The Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing’ . It’s a great review of the 3D printing scene with predictions for the future: 3D Printing The Ultimate Guide

Bright Future… eventually!

Now, there’s little doubt that 3D printing is terrific technology and its future is bright. However I was amused by the chapter on The Limitations of 3D Printing at Home (pp 74-5) which explains the differences between the printer manufacturers’ hype and some of the realities. Mainly these refer to:

  • Size
  • Print resolution, about a quarter of the best professional equipment.
  • Speed
  • Reliability (of software and hardware)
  • Materials, single on home printers and multiple on professional ones.

Everything in fact! All these lead to considerable differences in practically everything regarding performance and overall quality compared to the industrial-grade printers and rapid prototyper machines used by design engineers.

Of course professional printer prices can be 10 times the roughly £1000 that home printers currently cost so you’d better have a market in mind to make a return on your considerable investment. Or a hobby.

Early Adopter’s Penalty

At the top of this post is the video showing how we built our MakerBot Industries Thing-O-Matic back in 2011 (how time flies), complete with the original 3Deal branding. 3 years in technology is the equivalent of 3 decades so it all looks rather quaint now.


I view this experience simply as early adopter’s penalty. Personally I’m monitoring 3D printing and scanning with interest, but won’t be tempted to buy any more equipment until the ‘next wave’ of kit comes along, whenever that might be.

Archive: Making a Makerbot Thing-O-Matic in 2011

A range of print-outs from the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic in 2011
Recent Posts