3D Printing Services: How To Start 3D Printing, Types 3D Printing Services

Source: Rockett PC

Online 3D printing services are very popular today. These services are very useful for prototyping or bringing to life your ideas in reality. This technology is practical and is also applicable to aerospace, medical and education.

For this reason, 3D printing manufacturers and companies have become in demand. Learn more about 3D print services, if you need it and what you can get from it.

What is 3D Printing Services?

3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a physical object out from a digital design. There are a number of 3D printing technologies and materials that you can print with but all uses the same principle and that is turning a digital model into a solid three-dimensional object by printing it layer by layer.

Different 3D Printing Services

Companies that offer 3D printing services do not only 3D print objects, they offer more. Here are the different services that you can avail of them.

Direct Print

Source: 3ders.org

If you want to 3D print an object, these companies exist to do the job. You can provide them the file in .obj, .stl or .vml format. They will also allow you to choose the material to use. The time frame depends on the size of your object and the company who will be working on it.

If you get the service from an online job it might take two days or more as they need to ship the product. Their workload will also affect the speed of processing.

In general, if the object is small it will not take a whole day if it will be processed immediately. Most, if not all of the online 3D printing shops offer an instant quote to give you an idea of the costing.

Rapid Prototyping

Source: 3D Printing Color

Sculpteo offers this service which they claim is fast and reliable. In fact, according to them, this is the shortest way between your 3D file and getting the object in your hands.

Aside from rapid prototyping, it can also produce 3D objects in various dimensions and allows you to customize your object.

Volume 3D Printing

3D printing companies also cater volume 3D printing. If you need to 3D print objects by parts, do not worry because this is possible. You can accomplish this without breaking a sweat by having 3D printing companies do the job for you.

Laser Cutting

Source: Vat19

This service is not really into 3D printing but it is another option that you can find in businesses that offer 3D printing services. Laser cutting has its own edge.

Print API

This service allows you to automatically route your order from a website or application directory to their factory where it will be manufactured on your demand, packaged and shipped.

3D Design

Source: Atlanta Tribune

If you are not ready with the 3D design that you want to 3D print, do not worry because some companies offer this service too. They have a team of 3D modelers and CAD professionals to turn your idea into a ready-to-print design.

According to Wired, “when 3D printing won’t do this at home, laser cutter will.” Per BenCo Technology, laser cutting is done using a flat sheet laser or a 3D tube laser. Unlike 3D printing which is an “additive manufacturing,” this is a “subtractive technology” because it produces parts by cutting the material away from the source.

Who Needs 3D Printing Services?

3D printing applies to almost any areas of your life. Thus, you have all the reason to get a 3D printer or pay for a service. If you don’t want to invest in a 3D printer, just consider in getting a service.

Here’s a list of reasons why you need to get 3D printing services.

You’re a Business Person

Source: Penn State University

If you are in business and you need a working prototype for a client presentation, using a 3D printer will make the process easy and fast.

Usually, creating one with the traditional process will take time, money and energy. However, the cost, time and labor will be greatly reduced by using a 3D printer instead.

Some of the individuals using 3D printing services include Architects, Engineers, Real Estate Brokers, Interior Designers, and Business owners.

You Want Lesser Investment Risk

Source: Smashing Magazine

3D printers can be cheap or expensive depending on the brand and model. However, buying one and maintaining it isn’t that easy. 3D printers are not a plug-and-play thing, there are tons of things that you have to consider when you want to get one.

Sometimes it might involve training yourself or a staff, setting up a software, maintenance, purchasing materials (filaments, print heads, etc.) and disruption operations.

Yes, buying and maintaining a 3D printing can be costly. It’s not for everyone but this is where 3D printing services come in. 3D printing services make 3D printing affordable and accessible to anyone who needs it.

You’re Not 3D Printing Frequently

Owning a 3D printer can help you save if you 3D print often. However, if you don’t 3D print often and rarely needs it the best option for you is to get a 3D printing service.

These services offer you the convenience of 3D printing anytime you want without maintenance cost.

You Want to Customize Something

Source: Inhabitat

Customized items are very popular nowadays. In most cases, even gifts like mugs or key chains are now customized by adding the recipient’s name or photo. Customizing products are one of the key features in 3D printing.

You can actually customize almost anything you have in mind be it a stand for iPad, a bottle opener, a pencil container, a cup, an accessory holder or even a shoe.

The benefits of customizing shoes is that is caters to the actual shape and size of your feet, which delivers comfort. For athletes, this could help them maximize their performance. You can check more of 3D printed shoes here.

You Want to Try New Stuff, Materials, Designs

Source: 3ders.org

Getting a 3D printing service is not limited to individuals without a 3D printer at home there are instances when 3D printer owners need this service too.

For instance, per Stratasys Directs, a number of 3D printer owners come to them to try new materials that they don’t have or to custom 3D printed tooling, jigs, and fixture.

You Want to Save Money on 3D Printing

Source: 3ders.org

At some point, you might think that buying a 3D printer will help you save more but this also depends on how frequent you need it or on the maintenance cost.

For instance, based on the service from Sculpteo.com , it is more affordable to avail a 3D printing service than printing using Makerbot Replicator 2x, Formlabs Form 1, and some Stratasys 3D printers for one or few prints.

Sculpteo.com calculates their 3D printing price by considering the printer cost (divided by output over 3-year life) materials and maintenance, and labor and electricity.

So, for example, a ring measuring 23 x 11.6 x 23mm will cost $8.37 from Sculpteo, $9.34 from Makerbot Replicator 2x, $11.01 from Formlabs Form 1 and $33.10 from Stratasys Mojo.

3D Printing Service Cost

3D printing cost depends on several factors. For Shapeways, service cost includes the materials used, machine space and labor.

On the other hand, Sculpteo’s pricing considers these three factors: investment cost of the printer, materials and maintenance, and labor and electricity. It can also use this formula: retail price of printer and installation cost over a 3-year timeframe.

A small item is cheaper compared to bigger items because it uses less material and reduced labor. However, the complexity of design and the number of parts has nothing to do with the price.

Source: Sculpteo

If you are looking for a 3D printing service it is important that you check the price well because 3d printing service cost can differ up to 100%.

Compare prices from the different companies that offer 3D printing services online, you can use 3D Printing Price Check. The site allows you to upload an STL file in mm or in units.

If you want an estimate because you don’t have the STL file, you can use the sample files provided which include the details about the volume, surface area and bounding box for the output.

The page also allows you to choose different materials for your 3D printing project like ceramics, glass, metals, plaster, plastic and precious metals. At the same time, it allows you to choose from different 3D printing outlets like Shapeways, makexyz.com, Sculpteo and more.

3D Printing Market

Most companies now turn to 3D printing services to create prototypes. Prototypes are very important in businesses. The traditional prototype manufacturing is often time-consuming and more expensive.

However, 3D printing makes it fast and low-cost. Due to its promising potential, a number of 3D printing services is now available offline and online.

According to IBISWorld Industry Analyst James Crompton when the economy is fine the manufacturing activity determines the industry revenue.

Source: 3ders.org

A number of small players have already joined the market. In fact, a number of startup industries like Shapeways and Ponoko have already developed a cost-effective method to manufacture customized 3D printed products which boost the demand for this type of industry services.

The report was published two years ago and by that time the consumer market for 3D printing was still in its infancy but Crompton saw its potential for growth.

At the time, there are already a number of 3D printing services in the US which only confirms that this industry is indeed booming. You will find some of the 3D printing services in the US in the next section.

3D Printing US Economy

3D printing is one of the fastest growing technology today. In fact, one technology specialist claims that it will have a bigger economic impact than the internet.

Steve Sammartino, an Australian technology specialist, digital entrepreneur and venture capitalist added that 3D printing will transform life.

“It’s just a little bit like the internet. When it arrived we thought, ‘Oh, that may be interesting for media’, but as we’ve seen it’s transformed every type of business no matter what industry,” Sammartino said per ABC.

“The internet is an important part of our business, and 3D printing, while we can’t see exactly how that might manifest itself, there’s no doubt that it’ll change everything we do from just simple operations and the spaces we work in and in unforeseeable ways it’ll impact, I think, most businesses”

Source: Naver

This new technology represents an extraordinary technological shift. At the time there is a growing number of 3D printing services in the US and according to a report from IBISWorld, the 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping Services industry in the US has grown so quickly in the past years.

Among the factor that trigger these are the rapid technological developments, falling costs and new applications for 3D printing technology.

The industry revenue in the past five years up to 2014 is expected to grow at an annual rate of 17.9% and a total of $422 million. This has decreased by 6.4 percent in 2010 due to decline in demands tied to the recession.