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One potentially lucrative 3D printing opportunity is selling low cost laboratory equipment to schools, colleges, and research laboratories. Laboratory equipment has always been on the pricey side. Even items as simple as a Bunsen burner can cost close to one hundred dollars depending on where you buy it.
Other types of equipment with multiple moving parts such as the laboratory jack which resembles a car jack, can cost hundreds of dollars while some models may cost well over one thousand dollars. The laboratory jack does nothing more than elevate something either up or down. Most are based on nothing more complicated than a simple screw mechanism. Precision of movement is accomplished by using a fine screw thread.
This class of equipment is pricey because they are sold to a specialized niche market. Even very rudimentary devices can command a high price because they are used for highly specialized purposes. Electrophoresis gel combs are little pieces of plastic that have comb like prongs. They are used to create parallel rectangular wells in a mold material into which proteins or DNA are injected. Prices for these items can cost fifty dollars apiece.
It seems that laboratory items that are meant to be used for a super specialized purpose command the highest price tags. However, the pricing doesn't reflect the cost of materials or of manufacture. The difference between the cost of materials and the retail price can be as high as a thousandfold.
Because of this, many researchers who happen to own 3D printers and who know how to use CAD, are saving money by printing their own lab equipment. While they are saving money making their own equipment, there is a hidden cost to doing this. Most researchers are highly paid to do research, not manufacture equipment. So the use of their time in this way is very expensive. In addition, not all researchers know how to use CAD to create models nor have a 3D printer.
This is an opportunity for a person or company that is proficient with CAD and 3D printing to manufacture and sell low cost laboratory equipment. In these times of tight budgets, the choice between spending one thousand dollars or fifty dollars on the same item would be a no-brainer.