What Is the Lifespan of a 3D Printer?

I’ve been doing 3d printing for quite a while and I thought I’d answer a common question about the 3d printers. Which is, what’s the lifespan of a 3d printer? I gathered some feedback from people who have been using 3d printers for a long time and here’s what I found.

On average, 3d printers will last for about 4 years or more. It’s generally believed that the more expensive the 3d printer the longer it will last. A 3d printer will typically have a 1-year warranty. After that time, if any parts malfunction then you’ll need to buy a replacement part.

Many parts such as fans and stepper motors are readily available online for popular 3d printers such as the Ender 3. However, with a bit of learning, it’s easy to swap about certain universal parts once you know what to look for.

In this article, I will explain how often 3d printers fail, whether cheap 3d printers are worth it, whether 3d printing is worth it, and whether 3d printing is an expensive hobby.

BLTOUCH on a Creality 32-bit Mainboard Featured Image

How often do 3D printers fail?

Repairs can be a minor inconvenience, but I was curious about how often a 3d printer will break down.

As a whole, a 3d printer will fail every 6 months. By fail is meant – a component will malfunction or need adjusting to continue printing. Most people will do routine maintenance that involves inspecting the nozzle, and leveling the build plate every time they use it.

But, in rare cases, a component can break and will need to be repaired. The good news is that virtually all 3d printers come with a 1-year warranty typically.

So, fingers crossed if anything breaks it happens in the first year. Outside of that, you can buy replacement parts for popular models for around $20 to $30. And by watching some youtube videos you can repair it yourself.

Is 3d printing expensive?

3d printing requires filament and certain parts like the nozzle are replaced quite regularly. But, overall is 3d printing an expensive hobby?

3D printing is not an expensive hobby. On average, yearly expenses to run your 3d printer run about $125 to $200. That includes a generous amount of filament, replacement nozzles, as well as glue or hair spray to adhere the 3d print to the build plate.

Here’s a table that shows a breakdown of the cost:

PartCost Per YearReason
Nozzle$20 to $30Hardened steel nozzles wear out need to replace once every 6 months. Brass/copper ones can need replaced monthly
Filament$100 to $1505 kg of filament – can print about 50 medium to small sized objects
Glue stick$5Need to use for each print – 5 x $1 glue sticks
Hair spray$4Used for each print – can use this or a glue stick

To understand how much filament you need, it’s good to remember a key thing about kilograms. 1kg is equal to 10 cm x 10 cm x 10cm or 10 cm3 which is equal to 1 liter of water.

Cost of filament

There’s a basic rule you can use which is 1cm3 = 1g of filament. On average, you might use your 3d printer a few times a week and print a few things each time. And that works out to be around 5kg of filament in a whole year.

You can think about filament in terms of volume. If you know how big the print will be you can guesstimate how much filament you will use. For example, if the object is 3 cm by 3cm by 3cm or a perfect cube that is 3 cm on each side, then you know that it will weigh 3g and need 3g of filament.

Filament costs around $20 to $25 per kg. Therefore, for a whole year, it would cost around $100 to $150 for the filament. A known issue with the build plate of printer bed is that sometimes the filament won’t stick to the surface.

Shortly after this became widely known as an issue with 3d printer PEI burst on the scene. However, in the meantime, people discovered that glue stick glue used for scrapbooking and art work works very well. As well as, hair spray.

But, overall they only add about $10 a year to the ongoing costs of running a 3d printer.

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Is a cheap 3D printer worth it?

3d printing is a pretty inexpensive hobby, but the initial 3d printer can cost quite a bit. So you might be curious whether cheap 3d printers are worth it. Based on customer reviews of people who have bought cheap 3d printers here’s what I found.

One of the more popular cheap 3d printers, the Ender 3 has a good reputation for being reliable and printing well with 1000 reviews, and an average review rating of 4.5. It’s difficult to find a 3d printer under $150. But, even 3d printers at this price point have very good average review ratings.

The one thing with review ratings is that it depends on how many ratings it has total. For example, if it only had 10 reviews then the average isn’t that reliable.

However, some low cost 3d printers such as the ELEGOO that cost in the $150 range have over 80 reviews, with an average review rating of 4.3.

When you convert that into a score out of 100 that = 86/100 which is an excellent score. Therefore, cheap 3d printers are definitely worth it.

Ender 3 3D Printer

Is 3D printing worth it?

It takes a bit of time to get the hang of 3d printing, and some people wonder if it’s worth the trouble. Here’s what I found.

Overall, 3d printing is worth it. It is very inexpensive to get started, and the ongoing costs are also quite cheap. To learn everything you need to know to set up your 3d printer and do your own prints only takes 1 to 2 hours.

After that there’s a tonne of different things you can print. There are also online repositories where people upload 3d print files that you can download for free. You can use these to print useful things around the home. Or, interesting things like model airplanes kits, or figurines.

If you want to branch out into creating your own designs from scratch it will take a bit longer to learn. But, most people will find it quite fun along the way.

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I'm Rob, the founder of 3dprintscape.com. I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade. I started working with 3D printers because I was fascinated by the technology and wanted a hobby that my kids and I can enjoy together.

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