How To Lease or Rent Your Next 3D Printer
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Not sure if buying a 3D printer for your company will pay off? Leasing or renting one may be the smarter choice.
Technology in 3D printing is rapidly evolving and new printers are hitting the market at a record pace. How do you know if your choice of printer, technology – or additive manufacturing at all – is the best investment?
Spending a few weeks or a year with a rental printer is a sure way to find out. Plus, if you regularly order prints from an 3D printing service bureau, such as Xometry or Craftcloud, you may be spending more each month than the rental of your own machine.
“Facing a challenging economic environment and volatile markets, customers today want quick and flexible solutions without big investments or long-term obligations,” says Frank Marangell, president of BigRep America, which recently launched a leasing program in North America for its large-format filament printers.
Whether it’s directly from the manufacturer or a distributor, there’s a growing range of leasing and short-term rental options. Below, we dive into who’s offering leasing programs, but first, how does a leasing program typically work?
What Is a 3D Printer Lease
A lease is contract between you and either a leasing company, such as GreatAmerica Financial Services Corp. or Bluestar Leasing, or a financial institution for the use of equipment that you’ve selected from a supplier or manufacturer. The printer supplier may already have a relationship with a leasing company offering an attractive deal.
The leasing company pays the supplier’s invoice and you pay the leasing company the regular monthly rental. This differs from financing the purchase of a 3D printer in that you do not have ownership of the machine at the end of the lease agreement, although you may be able to purchase it, extend the lease longer, or trade the machine in for a different brand or a newer model. Leases typically involve lower upfront costs and less credit so they’re easier to get than a loan.
Many commercial equipment leases also include service agreements, warranties, trade-in programs, and other benefits (including tax benefits) you may not get with buying. To lease, however, your company may need to have been in business a minimum number of years to qualify and you do need to buy insurance for the leased equipment.
When Your Printer Doesn’t Have a Leasing Program
Your printer manufacturer of choice doesn’t have to offer a leasing program for you to lease the equipment in many cases. Leasing companies – and there are several that specialize in additive manufacturing equipment – will essentially purchase the equipment from the manufacturer and lease it to you.
One such company, NCP Leasing in the U.S., works with several manufacturers, including Envisiontec, ExOne, Renishaw, Stratasys, and 3D Systems to offer a path to acquiring printers with a lower initial cost than traditional financing. NCP says it has contributed to the start-up of additive manufacturing service bureaus with their equipment leasing; “NCP Leasing can provide equipment financing to young companies that have, in our view, good credit, financial resources and a business plan outlining appropriate use of these assets to build a viable business.”
Below, we detail the lease and rental offers from six manufacturers and three printer distributors.
HP’s 3D-as-a-Serivce (3DaaS) Plus is a pay-as-you-go subscription service for the Jet Fusion 340 that “helps companies transform capital expenses into operating expenses spread over time,” the company says. The program, which includes materials, features a “pay on usage” basis that tracks the number of finished and successful prints with an online dashboard.
The Jet Fusion 340 uses HP’s own multi jet fusion powder-based technology to print strong functional parts quickly and with ultra-fine layers of 80 microns. The Jet Fusion 340 can print parts in black or white and has a printing volume of 190 x 254 x 248 mm.
3DaaS includes the Jet Fusion 340 and accessories, installation, operator training and ramp-up training, remote and onsite support, for an upfront fee and a monthly fee. The program requires a one-year commitment and is available in the EU, Canada, UK and U.S.
Only available for lease in North America, the large-format Studio G2 from German manufacturer BigRep is a dual extrusion filament 3D printer with a 500 x 1000 x 500 mm build volume capable of printing with engineering-grade materials including PETG, Pro HT, TPU, and PA6/66. The Studio G2 rental service is offered in partnership with NCP Leasing, a company that specializes in lease financing for additive manufacturing systems. The standard rental lease is for six months at $3,000 a month plus an installation and training fee. Once the lease expires you can renew their lease, purchase the system at a “competitive” price, the company says, or return it to BigRep.
The American-made F410 3D printer from Fusion3 is available for lease durations from 12 to 60 months. Billed as a fast, large, high-resolution filament printer, the F410 has an ample 355 x 355 x 315 mm enclosed build volume, a maximum print speed of 250 mm/s, and a minimum layer resolution of 20 microns. The manufacturer says its leasing partners offer competitive rates and a variety of end of lease options, including $1 buyout at the end of the lease term.
This U.S.-based manufacturer offers rental of its AXIOM line of filament 3D printers to companies in the U.S.A. for a week or by the month starting at $200 a week. Airwolf 3D requires a $1,000 deposit ($2,250 deposit for the largest model) that’s refunded as long as the printer is returned in its original condition. For companies that are new to 3D printing, Airwolf3D recommends pairing your equipment rental with a two-hour 3D-printing training session at their facility in Fountain Valley, Calif. In person pick-up or shipping nationwide is available.
This innovative American printer manufacturer’s entire business model revolves around leasing printers. In fact you can’t buy a Carbon 3D resin printer, they are only for lease. Both Carbon printers, the L1 and the M2, feature the company’s patented Digital Light Synthesis technology for high-resolution prints fast. The M2 offers a build volume of 189 x 118 x 326 mm and the L1 offers 400 x 250 x 460 mm.
The M2 is available as a subscription service with a minimum 3-year term, priced at $50,000 per year. Add in the Smart Part Washer ($10,000 per year) and the mandatory accessory pack (one time purchase of $12,500), and you’re looking at $192,500 for the full SpeedCell system.
EOS industrial 3D printers are available for lease and rental in several countries through the company’s program that bundles printers and service.
“With our leasing and rental models, you get access to innovative EOS manufacturing systems for your production, enabling you to preserve your economic flexibility and take advantage of tax incentives,” the company says.
EOS manufacturers both metal and polymer powder bed fusion printers for industrial use.
Whether you need to print an object of your own design, use the device in a small lot production, or simply test it in an industrial environment before deciding to buy it, Polish printer manufacturer VShaper offers a long-term lease program of its line of seven filament printers. Included in the program is installation, training, and technical support.
Based in the UK, Tri-Tech 3D, provides direct rental contracts on a wide range of 3D printers including filament, resin, and metal technologies. Their offer includes accessories, warranty, trade-in program, and support, plus an upgrade path. “We’ve enabled companies to acquire new technology prior to the completion of the minimum rental period, without the usual high termination figure charged by outside finance agencies,” the company says. Rental contracts start as low as $384,67 (£299) a month and the company also offers a trade-in program for your used 3D printer.
Based in England, 3D-printer distributor GoPrint3D offers a range of printers for short-term rental, even for one-off projects or events. Although the company is a distributor for a wide range of printer manufacturers from Formlabs to HP, the printers for rent vary with availability and only experienced users are approved to rent.
iMakr, the global 3D printer and materials distributor, offers short-term 3D printer rentals from as short as a half-day to several weeks. The offer is aimed as companies that need to reverse engineer a few spare parts, want to temporarily extend their in-house manufacturing capacity, or have an event that needs “a bit of high-tech buzz”, the company says. iMakr will even rent a 3D printer operator for your event. Rental is available in the U.S. and the EU.