Here’s the problem: industrial 3D printers are expensive. A high-end Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer could cost upwards of $10,000 just for a smaller or lesser-known machine. Given the delicate nature of running a business, we can reasonably assume that a number of 3D printing businesses fail. So there should be a market for used 3D printers. Over the years we’ve seen companies try to get into selling used equipment, but eBay is still the biggest source for older 3D printers.
May be, Pivot AM Auctions will change that. A new division of the American service and equipment supplier AM Pivot Service, the site allows users to bid on refurbished 3D printers in a manner similar to eBay, with “max bid” and “buy now” options included. Sellers can list their used machines for $250, while buyers pay an 8% premium on top of the purchase price.
As of this writing, 11 pieces of equipment are available, including four Stratasys FDM 3D printers, three 3D Systems stereolithography (SLA) systems, and four post-processing machines. Most starting offers for FDM units start around $1,000, while SLA 3D printers start at $10,000. There’s a 2015 Fortus 400 currently bidding at $0, with a buy-it-now price of $49,000. If it’s not a mistake, you can buy it and return it for a pretty penny.
The advantage of having a used 3D printing equipment auction site is that Pivot AM is already integrated into the industry. Its owners know the business and can connect buyers and sellers with uninstallers and shippers, as well as financing entities that can enable the purchase of machine loans.
It is possible to buy used industrial 3D printers in places such as machine dealers and service offices, general equipment sitesand eBay. Pivot AM Auctions has the distinction of acting as an online auction house. However, given the small size of this niche market, it would be difficult to know how much business might actually come from auctioning or even selling used equipment. This seems all the more difficult since one of the advantages of buying directly from the manufacturer or a reseller would be the technical support, for which this industrial equipment is very demanding. Therefore, it seems that the ideal customer is an existing service office or parts manufacturer who is already familiar with these machines.
That said, there must definitely be a booming market for used industrial 3D printers. What I expect is that a company like Xometry, which has already expanded its role as a digital manufacturing service network to sell materials and parts, would begin to network sellers and buyers of used equipment as part of its existing offerings. If Pivot grows big enough, it might find a foster home with a company like Xometry.
Image courtesy of Pivot AM.