What kind of 3D printer user are you?

19721965130_b31a57869b_zWhen reviewing a product, we think it’s critical to consider who is actually buying the product and why they’re buying it. After all, a 3D printer that is ideal for the beginner may be completely wrong for the ultra techie enthusiast.

That’s why at AxisGeek we’ve created our 3D printer buyer personas. In our reviews, we highlight how appropriate a product is for each type of buyer. Think about which category fits you best and bear that in mind as you decide which 3D printer to purchase.

The Casual Hobbyist

The Casual Hobbyist is intrigued by 3D printing. They want to know what it’s all about, but at the same time they don’t want (or don’t have time) to devote hours to it every day. They like to play around with 3D printing and create some neat and useful things, but they don’t want to spend hours designing, preparing for a print, or adjusting their device.

In many cases, The Casual Hobbyist is just getting started and looking for their first 3D printer. If the hobby catches on they may turn into an enthusiast.

Key considerations for the casual hobbyist:

  • Wants something relatively easy to set up and use. Willing to deal with some headaches, but doesn’t want to spend too much time figuring things out.
  • Looking for a device that is reliable and easy to maintain. Doesn’t want to be constantly tuning, tweaking and repairing.
  • Wants something that works out of the box, doesn’t need a lot of customization. Wants clear instructions to get their device up and running.
  • Doesn’t need to create complicated models and isn’t worried about a high degree of accuracy. Looking to create simple but cool output.

The Enthusiast

The Enthusiast is fascinated by 3D printing. They are true early adopters of the technology. Enthusiasts are willing to put up with a lot to get their device working, as long as they can eventually create interesting and sometimes complicated pieces.

The Enthusiast doesn’t mind spending time tweaking and tuning their machine. In fact, they may enjoy it, as long as they can create high quality output at the end of the process.

Key considerations for The Enthusiast:

  • Wants an open platform that can be extended and customized. Doesn’t mind installing or updating software and firmware.
  • Desires a high quality output with a high degree of accuracy and precision.
  • Wants a device that is flexible to work with many types of materials.
  • Wants to be able to add on advanced features and capabilities.

The Educator

3D printers are increasingly showing up in classrooms at all levels. Educators are seeing how the technology can spur the imagination of students in many subject areas including science, art, engineering, geography and more.

In many cases, The Educator looking to bring 3D printing into their classroom has played around with it outside of their job and may be a casual hobbyist or an enthusiast. For the classroom they will want a device that can provide a valuable learning opportunity for students.

Key considerations for The Educator:

  • Needs a device that is reliable through frequent use.
  • Wants something that is not too complex, but at the same time provides some challenges for students.
  • Generally don’t need a high level of accuracy or precision, except for specialized uses in higher education.
  • Budgets are generally tight, so need a cost-effective option.

The Semi-Professional

At AxisGeek, we don’t cover high-end industrial 3D printers, which may run in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, many small businesses are finding value in using lower cost 3D printers for prototyping, testing or even light manufacturing.

We refer to these users as Semi-Professionals. They are using a 3D printer for business purposes, but it is not the sole focus of their business. These users need a device that is reliable, produces a high quality of output, and can stand up to heavy usage.

Key considerations for The Semi-Professional:

  • Needs a machine that is rugged and reliable with frequent use over the long term.
  • In most cases desires high quality, accurate and precision output.
  • Spending time on initial setup is fine, but doesn’t want to devote too much time to tuning and tweaking.
  • Except in specialized cases, doesn’t need a lot of flexibility in working with different materials.

Future persona: The Pragmatist

At some point in the future we expect to add a fifth persona, The Pragmatist. The Pragmatist buys a 3D printer for the same reason I bought my inkjet printer a couple of months ago: Because I need it and it makes practical sense for me to own one.

Currently, Pragmatist buyers of 3D printers are rare. The technology has not yet reached mainstream adoption, the number of practical uses still limited, and the cost/value ratio is still high. Over time this will change. We will add The Pragmatist to our persona library when we see that happening.

What type of 3D printer user are you?
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