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Should I Buy a Used 3D Printer in 2019?

Picture of Alex Haysler
by Alex Haysler
Aug 1, 2019
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The used 3D printer market is growing all the time - but can this risky option of entering the additive manufacturing industry be viable? Find out whether buying used could be the right choice for you with this guide.

Buying a Used 3D Printer To Secondhand or Not to Secondhand?

Used offers a tried-and-tested solution at a lower price.
Used offers a tried-and-tested solution at a lower price. Source: yousense.info

Joining the ever-expanding number of individuals and companies entering the realm of 3D printing can be an expensive affair. Many industry names offer desktop printers solidly in four-digit territory, and as a result, the temptation is to enter the cheap end of the market.

Of course, there are many budget 3D printers out there, but what about used machines? The saturated 3D printer market coupled with the reparable nature of most printers has caused a growing used market to surface, offering a selection of well-known and well-tested printers at a discounted price.

Another option, if you’re wanting to have just a few items printed but want to save the money and time associated with buying a printer, is to use a 3D printing service. For that, there’s Craftcloud, All3DP’s 3D printing and price comparison service, which will help you find the best service for your project!

But back to the question: Should you look at used 3D printers? Short answer: Yes, and here’s why…

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Buying a Used 3D Printer Pros

Never underestimate a working 3D printer – old or new!
Never underestimate a working 3D printer – old or new! Source: 3D Printing Realms

Below are some plus points to purchasing a used 3D printer:

  • Cost: A printer that has already seen some action, however brief, is always going to be a cheaper option than the same model brand new.
  • The printer works: Anything that has been used has the capacity to be used again, and is therefore already at an advantage to the “cheap and cheerful” FDM printers that are entry-level in price and quality. Never underestimate the power of a working unit, as many hours can be wasted fine-tuning settings on a cheap machine to make sure it will actually print at all.
  • Higher quality for a lower price: You’re more likely to get a higher quality machine on the same budget when going used versus new.
  • Recycling: The fact that you’d be reusing resources currently in existence and giving old parts a new purpose is another great incentive to purchase a used 3D printer.
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Buying a Used 3D Printer Cons

No refurbishment offered? Steer clear.
No refurbishment offered? Steer clear. Source: ABC News

Some of the drawbacks of buying used include the following:

  • Buying from unreliable sources: A lot of eBay and Gumtree sellers have popped up offering used 3D printers, but there is a major unknown attached to this. The machine has no guarantee of being in working condition, and you likely won’t be able to see the printer working before you purchase it, either.
  • Wear and tear: There are problems that may not surface until you’ve paid up and started attempting prints. Problems could range from as simple as needing a new nozzle to replacement of the entire motherboard, so keep the age of the product in mind.
  • No after-sale service: A seller that offers no assistance with technical problems or even an additional refurbishment service may well be a third party seller, which can cause endless problems when attempting to trace issues back to their original source. Users would, in this case, be settling for an older machine, with no telling how many spare parts would need purchasing in the first few months of ownership.
  • Shipping issues: Sellers (in particular independent ones) may not offer shipping due to the size of the printer or fragile nature of its components. They could also offer a poor service that damages the printer or loses it in transit.
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Buying a Used 3D Printer Buying Recommendations

Find out if your printer has any modifications before purchasing.
Find out if your printer has any modifications before purchasing. Source: 3D Folkes

Here are some general tips for how to go about buying a used 3D printer:

  • Make sure you buy from a reliable source. Likely this will be a local redistributor or service, so finding a good one may require a bit of investigation.
  • Make sure you see the printer (and ideally test it yourself) before buying to make sure it is in working order.
  • If you can’t test it yourself, make sure the seller sends you a sample print (with photo and video evidence that it came from that exact printer you’re potentially purchasing).
  • Get as much info as possible from the seller, such as
    • exactly how old the printer is
    • why they are selling
    • what print settings they use for different materials
    • nozzles that will come with the printer
    • where they currently buy spares
    • what has been changed/modified/replaced on the printer
    • which parts are still original
  • Do your research. Visit forums or contact the manufacturer for details on what a good price for a used printer of that type would be.
  • Use your cunning. Does the seller have any material they can throw in for free? Or any parts they don’t need anymore that can be bundled in with the purchase? If you don’t ask, you won’t get it!
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Buying a Used 3D Printer Final Thoughts

Used 3D printers – the future is the past!
Used 3D printers – the future is the past! Source: 3D Folkes

While it is worth conceding that nothing pre-owned would ever beat a well-recommended, brand new 3D printer, buying new can be expensive for a novice. With this in mind, a used 3D printer is a great entry point into the 3D printing world.

For some tips on what to do when evaluating a used 3D printer for purchase, check out our used 3D printer buyer’s guide.

Also, check out some official resellers offering used printers, such as 3DGBire in the UK (who offer a good range of reconditioned units) and MatterHackers in the US, who do the same, along with free shipping to customers based in the country.

Feature image source: Digital Trends, B&H, Source Graphics

License: The text of "Should I Buy a Used 3D Printer in 2019?" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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