Black Friday is the time of year when you can seriously consider breaking into a new hobby, or expanding in the hobby you already love. 3D printing is no exception to this, and you will see many “deals” spread around the internet to get you to buy a company’s product.
Not all deals are created equal, though, and neither are all printers. I spend a lot of money on 3D printing, including machines and materials, and want to make sure you get the most for your money wherever you can. I have put together a few helpful tips for you when buying 3D printers and their accessories.
You won’t believe the savings and you shouldn’t
One of the oldest tricks in the Black Friday sales playbook is for companies to inflate the price of a 3D printer, only to show the original price as a sale. You may see a printer for just $249 with a “saving” of $150, but last month it was only $260, and the company has been raising the price to make it seem like you are getting a bargain.
This is difficult to see on a lot of sites, but if you are using Amazon to find deals, there is a way you can counteract it. Camel Camel Camel is a Chrome extension that will let you see the price history of Amazon products so you can gauge if the company is being honest with its sale prices.
Now, this is not to say you should ignore all of these deals. If you find a printer for $200 that says it’s usually $500, but it’s normally only $300, then don’t dismiss it out of hand. $100 is still a good saving, and if it gets you a decent printer, then it may be worth it. Remember, companies are still trying to make money, even on sale days.
Look for names you can trust
Because the 3D printing community has many open source projects, there are numerous companies out there that produce less than stellar goods. Open source is fantastic, but just because a printer looks the same as the competition doesn’t mean it’s using the equal quality parts.
Look for names that you have seen from trusted sources. If you have seen it in the reviews on this site, you can be sure it’s worth your time, but being a part of the #3DPrinting hashtag on Twitter as well as the main 3D printing group on Facebook is a good idea too. These resources will help answer questions you might have and steer you towards brands that can be trusted.
Think about the extra purchases
Buying a 3D printer isn’t just about the printer itself; you need to think about what you’ll need to make it run. If you are looking at resin printing, for example, you may be able to pick up a printer for around $250 on Black Friday, but you will also need to buy resin, and gloves, and a whole host of small things that will likely be discounted as well. If you want to buy an FDM printer, then researching the best filaments to buy will help you stock up early.
Free shipping is a discount too
Some of my favorite printers aren’t available from Amazon and may not have free shipping on a typical day. Remember to check for free shipping deals for Black Friday, as 3D printers can be pricey to get to your door. Maybe the printer isn’t discounted, but the shipping that usually costs $79 is free, well, that’s a pretty significant saving right there.
Buying 3D printers, especially if they are going to be your first can feel daunting, especially when everyone is shouting “SALE SALE SALE” at you. Don’t fret though, as long as you stick to brands you know, or have had least heard of, and you check the older prices you should be able to pick up some big deals.
I will be on hand over Thanksgiving and Black Friday to feed you any great 3D printing deals from around the web, and you can always hit me up on Twitter with specific questions like “Hey James should I buy this 3D printer today?”