A bit about yourself:
I'm John. I have 2 (now 3) time consuming hobbies (triathlon/fitness[used to weigh 305, now 190], and playing bagpipes). I own a plastics manufacturing business with my brothers. One brother and I operate it. We mainly injection mold our own grocery/food handling related product line. Some light fabrication, some extrusion, some vacuum forming.
3D printer experiance:
Started off with a DIY kit (mostly just assembly and connecting wires, most of the tricky bits were already mounted/assembled) for Christmas. My Dad got it for me. Initially I was ticked. My brother and I had decided we were going to start off with a 'commercial' ready-to-go brand. However, I'm really glad of the way it worked out. I've decided that kit was a FORGERY from China of a no-name Chinese brand (you know it's a hot industry when forgers are forging no-name brands), but that's another story. But, it was (and still is) a pretty good little jobbie for <$200. To get it to work, I had to learn "enough". To get it to print better than 'out-of-the-box'...I had to learn a fair amount. All of that has paid off big time with graduation to the Taz 6. I have far greater understanding. Far greater ability to achieve better results because of what I gained. Someday, I'll take that thing apart and rebuild the structure itself...for a bigger build area and better results. It's pretty rickety.
Why I got into 3d printing:
Because it's fun. It's interesting. I can create applications for my other hobbies. But, I also own a plastics manufacturing company. And it would be downright dumb not to have an understanding of this tech. Granted, we're not likely to do a whole lot with it in terms of making usable stuff. A few odd bits here and there we've done and will continue to do. But, just like the CNC stuff we did, it will pay off. We bought, gutted, and rebuilt a large format flatbed CNC router. Then built from scratch another one. We've used them for production, prototyping, etc....maybe...MAYBE a dozen times. But, the real payoff was learning some form of CAD (in 2D at the time). A few years ago, we developed a mold that required essentially a significant array of what amount to 2d inserts. The first inserts we had done....were by an old-school guy on an old-school waterjet who I assume plotted the G-code straight up. Basically guesswork at what we wanted...and very difficult and expensive to replicate and change. When I figured out that I could apply the CAD that I knew, what used to cost $200 for one part....I can now get done maybe 15-20 pieces for $120 by sending off the blanks and emailing the CAD file to a laser cutter outfit. And the turnaround has gone from a couple weeks to 2 days. And one of those days is an hour of time loading up the template and making the adjustments and driving the blanks over to the cutter.