August 6, 2020

Why you should consider a subscription pricing model before you purchase a 3D printer

Purchasing additive manufacturing equipment has historically involved a large capital investment and the acceptance that your machine will depreciate over time. However, times are changing: What if you no longer needed to buy it up-front and instead could pay along the way as your printer’s capabilities continue to improve over time, all the while having 360° support spanning installation, training, and production?

At Carbon, we create technology that continually provides our customers with greater advantages and improved capabilities both in real-time and over time.

The additive manufacturing field is advancing quickly; by offering our connected 3D printers as a subscription, we’re able to provide equipment that gets better with time. Regular software updates every ~eight weeks mean improved printer functionalities (e.g. print speed, accuracy, texturing, etc.) and always having a state-of-the-art machine. We periodically introduce new high-performance 3D printing materials, and we can update our printers remotely to work with them, expanding the capabilities of our platform long after initial installation. And real-time customer service means seamless troubleshooting and more machine uptime. With a subscription model, we are ultimately able to align our business objectives and incentives with your success using our product.

Learn more below about our subscription pricing model, how it empowers our partners and customers, and why you should consider a subscription before purchasing additive manufacturing equipment.

What are downsides of purchasing a 3D printer?

Purchasing additive manufacturing equipment seems attractive on the surface: once you break even and cover the cost of purchasing, your equipment is a no-cost asset to use at your disposal. However purchasing equipment requires significant upfront investment and also entails taking on the costs of maintenance and upgrades. A subscription model allows you to avoid four key downsides to owning a printer.

  1. Obsolescence around the corner. When you purchase a printer in today’s rapidly changing technological landscape, the best it will ever be is on the date of purchase. From that point forward, your brand-new manufacturing hardware will start becoming obsolete.
  2. Hidden fees and costs. To upgrade your technology and access new capabilities, you will either be forced to purchase upgrades (if possible), or buy the latest version of the equipment.
  3. Lack of support for new materials. Many additive companies pride themselves on the 3D printing materials they offer, but newly launched materials aren’t always available on the existing platform. New material offerings may only be available with the latest hardware models or by purchasing upgrades to support new materials.
  4. Unreliable customer support and maintenance. Most industrial 3D printing platforms do not integrate customer support into the technology platform, which puts customers in the position of having to purchase service packages separately when facing critical maintenance issues. Service is sometimes provided through a third-party bureau that may lack the specific expertise to solve your problem, or that may take weeks to respond due to the struggles of remote troubleshooting. Regardless, your production efforts are halted and your customers are negatively impacted.

 

What is the value of a subscription for connected 3D printers?

Offering our connected 3D printers on a subscription basis ultimately allows our customers to experience the highest-value point of our technology at any given moment in their subscription. Below we’ve broken down the value of a subscription pricing model for connected 3D printers when compared to traditional machine ownership.

Comparing traditional machine ownership to a subscription pricing model for connected 3D printers.

Are Carbon 3D printers connected?

Yes, all Carbon 3D printers are connected to the cloud through an ethernet connection.

 

Why are Carbon 3D printers connected?

Connectivity is essential to providing the utmost value to our customers that we break down into four main areas:

  1. Rapid customer support and predictive maintenance
  2. Continuous improvement in operations and equipment
  3. Access to the latest software tools and immediate support for new materials
  4. Monitored and optimized operations with cloud software

 

What makes Carbon technical support so great?

Real-time customer support with predictive maintenance

Major advantages of our connected 3D printers include streamlined, remote troubleshooting and dramatically accelerated customer support. Through ongoing monitoring of customer operational metadata, we can precisely predict and prevent customer issues before they impact production. This eliminates the need for customers to identify and communicate contextual information about an issue, because device configuration and metadata from each print are readily available for Carbon technical partners. With this detailed information, we can then replicate and resolve issues with direct operational and configuration data from customer machines.

 

How does the Carbon platform continually improve over time?

OTA updates

Carbon sends over-the-air (OTA) updates that improve the capabilities and performance of Carbon printers. Code changes that affect the printer’s operation are sent via periodic updates that add new features and are delivered roughly every eight weeks. When updates are ready, customers are informed that they are available and are presented with options for when to install.

Cloud-based software tools

Additionally, cloud-based software tools offer added design capabilities on the server side that customers can leverage without the need for an update. They allow for automated part design, including advanced, automated support placement.

 

What types of improvements can be expected?

Gain access to the latest software tools and support for new materials

Improvements to the Carbon platform add new features and capabilities around design and automation, fleet and factory management, and printing and post-processing. Through regular communications with the server, these updates can instantaneously deliver optimized print parameters, better workflow tools, new design capabilities, and seamless resin support.

 

If the printers are connected, how can I ensure my data is secure?

Carbon printers reside at customer sites and are configured to operate inside a customer’s firewall. Customers access the printer directly via a browser on their computers, so that preparing and printing a file occurs inside the firewall.

Carbon printers connect to secure Carbon servers and only to those Carbon servers. All data transmitted to and from those servers is encrypted, therefore protecting all data.

In addition, Carbon’s connectivity framework distinguishes between customer model data and operational data to protect customer information and intellectual property while maintaining the benefits of connectivity.

Customer model data transmission and storage

Customer model data is only transmitted when the customer desires Carbon design support. In addition, customers can control projects locally by encrypting their models and requiring specific passwords on a per-project basis. Carbon does not retain a master key and cannot bypass user passwords on models, which makes it critical for customers to preserve their passwords for continued access to their models.

Operational data transmission

Operational data is sent to Carbon automatically and includes print time, printer errors, and sensor measurements. As mentioned earlier, this data streamlines remote troubleshooting and is used by Carbon technical support to predict customer issues and provide preventative maintenance.

Interested in learning more about the Carbon platform and how it can improve your production efforts? Reach out to us at sales@carbon3d.com to learn more.

In the meantime, check out these resources below to learn more about our 3D printing technology and materials: