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professional 3D printer costs common misconceptions

MARCH 4, 2015 // After multiple emails and playing weeks of phone tag, my customer and I are finally able to meet. In preparation for our meeting, I visited the customer's website to learn more about who they are.

A little sales 101 if you will...

During the meeting, we discuss his company's potential 3D printing application. He tells me that their direct competition got into 3D printing last year and his boss has ordered him to look into this technology as-well. We continue to discuss their needs of 3D print quality, part size and end-use application.

It is quickly apparent that their needs line up perfectly with the capabilities of a
new professional 3D printer from 3D Systems!

When asked about their timeline for purchasing a device my customer responds, "As soon as we can."

To a salesmen no sweeter words have ever been uttered.

Before our meeting raps up I inquire about their company's expected 3D budget. "We are hoping to spend around $5,000," he offers.

The glimmer in my eye is surely dulled as I explain the discrepancy in price between their budget and the budget needed for their 3D printing application.

Naturally my customer is taken back with the disappointing news. We shake hands as I ask him to "stay in touch and let me know if he needs additional information in the future."

The once promising 3D lead is lost.

To someone new to 3D printing, one of the biggest misconceptions is the initial cost of a professional or production 3D printer. It is nearly impossible to go a day without reading an article online about 3D printing and its positive impact on healthcare, education, and aerospace. When researching the technology potential customers see small 3D printer pricing starting at $2,000 and to no fault of theirs use that number to base their initial planning.

While upfront cost for 3D printers will surely go down in the future, the average price for a commercial 3D printer is between $40,000 to $80,000 and increases significantly from there. Depending on the potential application, pricing can vary greatly over different 3D printing technologies and a range of precision capabilities and build sizes. As a salesman it is my job to educate potential customers on our product offering and occasionally deliver the bad news that their budget needs to be significantly increased to produce the 3D parts that they want.

For our customers who are not ready to invest in a commercial 3D printer I recommend outsourcing their parts to a local service bureau. While small, relatively inexpensive 3D printers can be a decent way to get our customer's team excited about 3D printing technology, working with low quality parts can be less effective in understanding how their company can fully take advantage of the technology's benefits. Outsourcing their parts can allow their company to truly gauge the value of 3D printing and also help management build a case, and RIO, for a future 3D printer investment.




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