Internal 3D Printing Costs: Underestimated or Absent?

August 30, 2017

 In healthcare, costs are calculated and understood, but in 3D printing, the internal cost of printing is often underestimated and more often, completely unknown. It's common to see an organization tout an incredible case study with a 3D model, yet once all costs are factored, the model ended up being 10x more expensive than it should have.

Internal 3D Printing Costs-Underestimated or Absent-


Build Your Own Versus Outsourcing 3D Printing Workflows

Truly understanding and managing cost requires either an external 3D printing platform-as-a-service with easily tracked metrics or the establishment of a formalized internal process and workflows to support internal customers. The simpler the better. Consider the model of providing a storefront for finding any and every product you need. You don't gather the materials, assemble them all, and hope for the right outcome. You simply search, select and purchase. 3D printing can be equally as simple with and end-to-end workflow where you upload ready to to print files. The alternative is to build the whole program in-house. You may also compare it to having chef-cooked, healthy meals delivered right to your doorstep or maintaining a full grocery store with all supplies and check-out processes.

TrueCost of a Full-Service Internal 3D Printing Program

As 3D printing evolves, it is likely that 10-15 different kinds of printing technology are needed to provide a full spectrum of services, making the cost of a comprehensive and full-service internal 3D printing program very high. In addition, making the common assumption of a 5 year depreciation on a 3D printer is ill-advised because the technology will become obsolete at a faster pace. For the greatest cost savings and productivity improvements, Healthcare systems should focus first on embedding the workflow that allows for both in-sourced and out-sourced prints to be supplied in an easy-to-access format which extends the reach of these services system wide.

Achieve Economies of Scale & System-Wide Access

To achieve economies of scale, certain large health systems should centralize the demand by extending a platform-as-a-service offering to their customers similar to an EHR model where one health system extends access to its affiliates. It becomes platform-as-a-service, even if you do it yourself. You’ll need an offering to extend which requires a new genre of technology solutions to empower system-wide access and make it easy to use. Focus on finding an IT solution that provides:

  • An access portal
  • Segmentation tools
  • Clear per-model costs
  • Customizations
  • A "what you see is what you get" outcome

Learn more about how to overcome the obstacles to widespread adoption in our free eBook.

3d printing ebook


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