Are you willing to start your own manufacturing business? If yes, then instead of buying a factory and plant, you can consider tying up for a 3D printing service. It means that the design will be yours, but the actual production is something you’ll outsource from someone who does 3D printing of various objects.
Of course, this idea does not apply to all manufacturing companies. You could be getting it done for a specific part of the product or the entire one. For example, if you’re planning to sell your own toys, you can get it done entirely from a 3D printing service provider. However, suppose you’re making cream, then you can get the containers 3D printed from outside than buying ready-made ones.
There are so many objects around us that are actually 3D prints today. It could be the pen stand next to you, the bottle you drink water from or your car keychain. You can make any simple object that does not need technology to operate with 3D printing. For example, you cannot 3D print a mobile phone but you can print its cover.
What Do You Require a 3D Printing Service For?
So, reselling the items is one of the main reasons why you would require 3D printing services. That applies if you’re taking them in bulk. However, what if you don’t want to resell?
Most people who do look for 3D printing services are those who don’t want it in bulk. For example, an architect can look for one to print a prototype of his design. A student can want it for his project. Here are situations where you have to get 3D printing done:
- Making moulds for manufacturing
- Creating prototypes and display models for an exhibition, store or project
- Obtaining containers or manufacturing parts for your main product
- Manufacturing the final product
Types of 3D Printing Services You Get
Any service provider will have variants of what he or she sells. In case of 3D printing services, the variants lie in the objects they create, the materials they use and the technology they use to do so. Of course, that implies that every service provider keeps multiple types of 3D printers.
Here’s a random number of varieties of services that you can avail:
3D Printing Designs
Most service providers will print the design you provide them. If you try online than going to a 3D printing store, all you have to do is upload your file and ask for the quantity and type of print you need. However, in some sites, you get 3D designing services along with printing services too. Of course, you need to buy them separately as it is another professional task.
3D Printing Objects
Mostly, the products that these companies will print for you include medical implants, home décor items, accessories, customized gifts, toys and manufacturing parts. Apart from technical products like mobile phones, laptops, televisions, refrigerators and air conditioners, you can actually 3D print any object.
Prototype 3D Printing
The most common demand among buyers is actually printing of prototypes and display models. You mostly need them for products or structures that you cannot make using 3D printing like buildings, vehicles, weapons or machinery. The displays you see in museums and exhibitions are mostly 3D printed.
Metal 3D Printing Service
When you need an object for real use, this service is very helpful, although it will cost you more for obvious reasons. There are plenty of metals and alloys that you’ll get to choose from different service providers. These include steel, cobalt-chrome alloys, aluminium, brass, bronze, copper, titanium, nickel-based alloys, silver and gold.
Plastic 3D Printing
The range of materials available here is even wider – including both filaments and resins. Materials like HIPS, PLA, ABS, PETG, polycarbonate, nylon, TPE, TPU and PVA are common among pure plastic filaments. Compositions include wood, marble, ceramic and carbon. Resins are composites of wax or plastic in liquid form, available in different colours.
3D Printing Technologies
Some of the technologies that all firms provide include DMLS, FDM, SLS, MJF, wax casting and SLA 3D Printing. Depending on the materials you choose and the product you want, you need to choose the best technology. For example, if you want a detailed item made of metal, DMLS is the best option to choose.
5 Factors Affecting the 3D Printing Service You Need
You’ve seen when you could want a 3D printing service and what you could avail there. Now, I could look for a 3D printing service near me. However, I prefer online services because it works faster than going to a 3D print shop.
So, how to understand which site to get your service done from? Of course, you need to check if they make deliveries at your pin code. However, the 5 main questions that you ask yourself while surfing the web include:
What Materials are You Getting?
You’ll know if you want plastic or metal for printing the product. If you want to create a prototype, you’ll go for plastic filament or resin printing. If you want a dental implant, you’d probably be looking for titanium. Just check what options you have on the site. Do you have what you need?
Which 3D Printing Technologies are Available?
No service provider has only one technology or 3D printer. They’ll give you at least 4-5 options to choose from – the more, the better of course. Some of the factors that affect the choice of technology include the material you want to use, the finishing you need, quality of the final product, how complicated or simple your model is and your budget.
How Much Does 3D Printing Cost There?
Usually, 3D printing price depends largely on the material and technology you choose. Along with that, factors like labour requirement, size of the object, print time and strength of the final product also affect the price. Considering all of this, you need to compare the price for every site.
How Long Will They Take to Make the Delivery?
Do you need your product immediately or it’s ok if they take some time? Usually, anyone would want their delivery as early as possible. For the given quantity and quality you’re looking for, compare the number of days a site promises delivery to you.
What Else Do They Provide Along with 3D Printing?
A standard 3D printing service requires you to upload your design, choose your material and technology and then place the order with quantity. However, there are websites where you can find more services other than 3D printing too like 3D designing and rendering, 3D scanning, CNC modelling and injection moulding.
Top 5 3D Printing Sites for You
You’ll find plenty of 3D printing sites available on the web right now. The ones I’ve listed provide you with a great variety of materials, quick service and a good price. These include:
This is one website where you’ll get both 3D printing and designing services. You can choose to upload your CAD design and get a 3D print with your choice of material and technology. Alternatively, you can get designing services from them too – just give them your ideas. They even provide 3D printers for rent and sale and teach you how to use them.
This company too provides you with a wide range of 3D printing services along with 3D designing and scanning. You have plenty of technologies and materials to choose from, which gives you the flexibility to get anything made. If you want the design from them too, they’ll give you CAD designs, miniature designs and rendering services.
At Staples, 3D printing services are available for educators, businesses and manufacturers. There are 40 different materials to choose from which include plastic filaments and metal powders. You need to upload the concept or design your require, choose the material and technology you want and you’ll get your product in a few days.
The website gives what a buyer wants – no minimum order quantity, variety of materials, easy order placement and quick deliveries with proper finishing. They have a wide variety of resins, filaments and metals that you can choose for prototyping or additive manufacturing.
Here, you’ll get to choose between FDM, MJF, SLS and SLA 3D printing services. They mostly have plastic filaments as materials and provide sand, vapour and painting finishes on your products. It’s a cost-effective site if you want implants, décor items or prototypes.
Can You Try 3D Printing at Home?
Well of course you can, but why do you want to do that? If it’s a one-time requirement, buying a 3D printer and learning how to use it won’t make sense, right? This is an option you can go for if you need to use a 3D printer from time to time.
It’s difficult to get a cheap 3D printing service for a high-quality product. However, it doesn’t mean you’ll just buy the printer. This is because it is no cake walk trying to use it the right way. Neither are the materials too cheap. However, if you are an educator or a creator, it might be worth using one at home, provided you have the right space and environment for it.