If you are looking to try 3D printing without buying your own equipment, you should check online services. The services provide the same experience youíd get if you owned a 3D printer. Youíll also get the opportunity to experiment with new finishes and filaments without having to buy any new equipment or materials.
What Are The Benefits Of 3D Printing Services?
Ease and Speed
You wonít have to wait weeks for your design to finish printing. Instead, youíll have it in just a matter of days. Whether you choose one of the existing online files or submit your own, it wonít affect the time it takes for the service to manufacture your model.
Some 3D printing services even go as far as designing the model for you, provided that you send them a picture of what you have in mind.
Testing New Materials
You can experiment with new projects through the online printing services. This means that you can play around with different filaments and finishes before buying your own equipment.
Many companies provide design services to consumers. This is usually done in two ways:
- You upload your files and have them optimized
- The service replicates a physical model from scratch
Reliability & Consistency
Generally, printing services use high-end 3D printers. This enables them to print consistently and also be able to accommodate the high print volume they often have to cater for.
Find a 3D print manufacturing service if you need to print a batch of objects that have to be identical.
Best Online 3D Printing Services
In the past few years, this company has become one of the popular 3D print manufacturing services providers. There are three services that the company provides
- The ability to print your models
- Their store where users can exchange models and print them
- A platform where you can hire one of their qualified designers to make your project come alive
The best part of uploading your own files is the ability to monetize them by selling it to Shapeways users.
How Easy Is It?
Shapeways makes it easy for anyone to print 3D models. When you upload your files to their platform, youíll be treated to an intuitive, user-friendly interface. You can also use the companyís applications to design an object in one of the various categories, including jewelry and miniatures.
If you are fairly new and less experienced when it comes to 3D printing, Shapeways offers an incredible service. All you have to do for the most part is click here and there. Before you know it, you will have finished your 3D model.
Iím a Pro! Is it Good for Me?
Business owners can benefit a lot from the accurate batch printing this service delivers. You are guaranteed that you will end up with premium models at all times.
If you are in a hurry to get things done, you can opt for the rapid prototyping service that will speed up the process by a further 2 days. Rapid prototyping will also give you feedback about the cost and printability.
A good strategy would be to use your home 3D printer to design the prototypes and order them from the printing service. Jewelry designers will benefit most from the service because the company offers some exotic filament, which you can use without having to buy the equipment and materials required to deliver what you want.
Shapeways ñ Verdict
This reputable company is one of the best in the business today. Their biggest advantage is their wide range of services offered and the ease of using these services.
Interestingly enough, this company does not have their own printers. They act more like an intermediary that links 3D printer seekers with 3D printer owners in a specific area. It more like AirBnB for 3D printing.
Anyone in your area could be printing your model; from the guy that has a printer in his garage to a small business. Having a local person print your model keeps your shipping fees and production time low.
The company behind this incredible complex service helps with uploading the files, payments, and communications to the 3D printer owner in your area. The local printer owner will start printing after you make the payment. You can choose to get your printed model either through the mail or collecting it directly from the printer
How Easy Is It?
To start the process, you simply need to upload your file to the platform. After that, youíll get a quote for the cost, which will depend on the materials you want to use and the printer type. You can then choose a local 3D printer in your area that you want to use.
Every 3D printer owner on the platform has a review about them. Therefore, itís easy to make informed decisions about them and avoid getting duped.
Getting a 3D printer when you live in a major city is quite easy. However, MakeXYZís service has proven that many people in small towns are also investing in 3D printing. Just a look around in your area will show a 3D printer not too far from you.
MakeXYZ ñ Verdict
MakeXYZ offers a unique service given that they donít own the printer used to make your 3D model. The service is also much cheaper compared to an option like Shapeways because of the competition amongst printer owners.
Besides getting your model done locally, you can also network with some local 3D printing enthusiast. This way, you can learn to build better models and expand your knowledge about the technology.
Originally from France, Sculpteo has now extended their printing service to the United States.
The company offers a wide range of printing materials, ranging from standard PLA to the exotic blended filament on the market, including steel and metals. If you choose their inkjet option, they will either use different colors or different materials, or both on the same object.
How Easy Is It?
Like most of the rival services, you have to upload your files to the online platform where it can be further optimized for printing. When you upload your model, the software will immediately try to detect improvements that can be made and then suggest them to you. You can also opt to hollow out your model so that it can print in faster and also reduce your costs.
Sculpteo design optimization makes it easy to use, especially if you are a 3D printing newbie.
If you donít want to create a model from scratch, you can buy a model from the online store and improve on it. After that, you can go ahead and print this model.
Sculpteo has many manuals and online training that you consume to educate yourself about their service and also interact with their online software. Youíll go from zero to hero quickly.
Something that is different about this service when compared to others is the virtual storefront available. The platform is standalone and can be used in a similar way to Shopify. You can also embed it on your website, application or blog.
Most of the 3D printing formalities are taken care of by Sculpteo, including the payments, production of models and shipping. You can keep the profit you make from your 3D model after they deduct the shipping and manufacture cost.
Sculpteo ñ Verdict
This company offers something similar to Shapeways service. However, it has fewer materials available and their marketplace and itís is also smaller. The service is still worthwhile checking out because the company offers different types of 3D object materials and manufacturing processes, unlike a platform like Shapeways.
If you do not have time to print your own 3D models, this service would be ideal for you. Its shipping is one of the fastest among 3D print manufacturing services. You will get the print at your door in 48 hours or the company will refund your payment.
The software platform is very informal to use for experts and novices alike. The available user guides and manuals are helpful and informative.
Sculpteo has maintained a good status amongst their users and continues to do so by consistently delivering high quality 3D models at their doorstep.
Offline 3D Printing Service
UPS has been providing 3D print manufacturing services at almost 60 United States stores. The company plans to bring the services to more stores in the future.
The service is mostly available in big cities at the moment but is due to roll out to smaller towns based on the demand for the service. You can check for the closest store to you by entering your postal code (zip code) on the website.
What 3D Printing Service Does UPS Offer?
The type of printers used by UPS are primarily ABS. You will still get good results because their machines are of premium build. ABS provides more strength options compared to PLA and is, therefore, more fit for complex models.
Besides bringing your own model to be printed at the store, you may opt for their design service that will scan your object and transform it to a 3D file that can be printed.
UPS Stores ñ Verdict
A very well established and respected brand is throwing their weight behind 3D printing. Their customer service is great and they always get the package delivered on time. There is no doubt that they will succeed in this front too.
The best way to make use of the UPS service is by printing your own models at home in a weak filament like PLA and then use UPS to print in a stronger material like ABS. Not only are you guaranteed of the strength but also details and high quality.
Your Local Library
The first library that offered 3D printing is the Fayetteville Public Library in New York City back in 2011. Since then, hundreds more have joined this initiative. This proves that libraries are not just a place for books anymore; they also provide additional services that help educate the masses.
Can You Really 3D Print in a Library?
There is a really good chance that youíll at least be able to print PLA with the 3D printer at your local library. Some libraries are also advanced such that they offer a wide range of materials to choose from as well as high-end 3D printers.
Some libraries like Cincinnati Public Library and Long Beach Public Library will offer you a space where you can also design your 3D prints. The workshops are not only filled with 3D printers but also the tools used with them, such as lathes and cutters. If you donít know what to do, you can simply ask around one of the many friendly volunteers on standby to assist you.
Most libraries have training workshops that will help you to learn some of the necessary 3D printing skills. Moreover, you can interact and network other 3D printing enthusiasts.
Why Do Libraries Offer 3D Printing?
Libraries have shifted their focus in the past few years, from just providing books to instead provide useful information to people in the nearby area. Most people are aware of the various types of media libraries offer including music, videos, and software. Libraries also offer social event, training workshops and gatherings for community members.
Getting a 3D printer at your nearest library means that you wonít have to spend a lot of money just to get the experience. Information about 3D printers is also hard to find. Even if you know a lot about 3D printers, it is more often than not a different story when you work with the physical machine.
You can really get a feel for 3D printing through your nearest library without becoming too involved in terms of the cost behind it. Google is your best friend if you want to find out if your nearest library has a 3D printer. Alternatively, simply visit the library and inquire.
3D Printing Services ñ Summary
3D printing is a fascinating field that has the potential to become more mainstream than it already is. In this article, we introduced the various ways that you can learn more about 3D printing and get your models printed without having to own any equipment.
One of the methods is through an online service. You simply upload your files and the service provider will try as best as they can to help you modify the file before itís sent to print. For example, they might point out some improvements that can be made to your model. After the print is finished, they send it to you through the mail.
Another great method of getting your 3D prints is through offline providers. These include going to your nearest library or your local post office. Although the service provided by the above-mentioned places are rather limiting, they still offer a decent experience.
Getting a printing service is one of the best things you can do for yourself when you start out with 3D printing. The equipment can be a big headache but since you donít own them, you can worry less about maintenance and producing high-quality product. Instead, you can focus on designing more meaningful models. If you are a business, you wonít be disappointed with batch printing as the results will always be of the highest quality.
Depending on the project that you are working on, it can be a blessing to use a printing service. The service allows you to experiment with different filaments and finishes without having to buy the actual equipment. If your client doesnít like the design and the materials you used to produce the model, you can simply switch over to something different without spending too much money on equipment.