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Posted on Aug 30, 2016

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Second-Hand or Refurbished 3D Printer

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Second-Hand or Refurbished 3D Printer

Planning to buy a 3D printer but worried about the cost? You’d be glad to know that hundreds of different 3D printers are now available on the market that come at different price points.

3D printing technology has become more accessible to budget-conscious consumers. While industry-standard 3D printers from brands like LulzBot and MakerGear cost north of $1000, you can also purchase entry-level desktop 3D printers that cost as little as $100. Likewise, 3D scanners like SCANIFY from Fuel 3D have become more affordable than many other 3D scanning systems. 


Considering the hefty prices of most 3D printers, it’s no surprise that some consumers are looking at more affordable second-hand 3D printers. You can find second-hand 3D printers for sale on reputable e-commerce sites and classified ads sites. Reputable merchants sell high-quality used 3D printers that have been physically examined before they’re offered for resale.

However, before you purchase a second-hand 3D printer, consider the following drawbacks:

  1. Second-hand 3D printers do not come with comprehensive service histories.

If you’re thinking of buying a second-hand car, you can always use its VIN (vehicle identification number) to generate a vehicle history report. Unfortunately, no records of previous owners or comprehensive service histories are available for second-hand 3D printers. Without this information, you won’t be able to gauge how intensively the machine was used, for what applications, or by how many people.


  1. Some second-hand 3D printers have aftermarket upgrades and modifications.

Second-hand 3D printers sometimes have aftermarket upgrades and distinct modifications such as dual extruders or heated print-beds. These upgrades are designed to optimize or alter the performance of the 3D printer. While they may have been useful for the previous owner, aftermarket upgrades and modifications will void the manufacturer’s warranty (should the printer have one).


  1. Ongoing maintenance might be a problem if the 3D printer isn’t open source.

Before finalizing your purchase, consider the 3D printer’s ongoing maintenance needs. Will there be long-term support for your used 3D printer in terms of firmware upgrades? Will it be easy or difficult for you to source replacement parts if components break down? How about repairs and customer support?


Maintenance and repairs will be easier if you purchase an open source 3D printer. If the term “FFF” (which stands for “fused filament fabrication”) is used to describe a 3D printer, chances are, it’s an open source machine. The term was coined by members of the RepRap project and indicates that the machine was built using publicly shared design information.

With open source machines, you can find full documentation and instructions on how the machines were built and how to maintain them. Sourcing replacement parts will be easier, too. In some cases, you can even 3D print the replacement parts.

John Abella

For Added Peace of Mind, Consider Buying a Refurbished 3D Printer                     

Despite some risks, buying a used 3D printer isn’t always a bad idea. There are some great used 3D printers out there that are not only in great condition but are also competitively priced. For added peace of mind, consider purchasing a refurbished 3D printer.

Refurbished products are goods that have been returned to the manufacturer or vendor for different reasons. These products may have been demo units, may have minor imperfections, or may have been returned by dissatisfied customers. Refurbished products are normally tested for functionality and are inspected for defects. They’re then repaired by the manufacturer before they’re resold.

You can save hundreds of dollars by purchasing a certified and refurbished 3D printer from brands like MakerBot, Lulzbot (via its certified reseller program), and Flashforge, among others.


Makerbot Certified Refurbished Products

Makerbot certified refurbished products—including its 3D printers—are backed by a 6-month warranty and are available at greatly reduced prices. These products have been tested, inspected, and repaired by MakerBot factory technicians to ensure the highest quality.


Flashforge Certified Refurbished Products

All certified and refurbished Flashforge products have been reconditioned by in-house technicians. The products—including the 3D printers—have gone through numerous tests to ensure that they’re in proper working condition. Customers get a standard 90-day warranty, as well as direct phone and email support.


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Images credit (under CCL) by order:  Ultra-labJohn Abella