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We talk about the accessibility that 3D printing has brought to prototyping and production, but the fact remains that not everyone can afford to purchase a 3D Printer. This is the reason several companies have added on-demand 3D printing services to their offerings. These amazing services will let you send your designs and get a complete 3D model or prototype without having to buy your own equipment. Market surveys are indicating that businesses are evaluating 3D printing and hiring new employees with additive manufacturing experience to prepare themselves for the future in a more effective way.

3D printing is becoming essential in the workplace. It can help business organizations validate their designs, perform effective functional tests and bring their products to market efficiently. Even more, 3D printing prototypes can be more effective for properly communicating concepts with stakeholders, resulting in better quality and faster iterations. Executive seldom needs to be swayed of these benefits, yet various organizations have continued to work with 3D oriented models. But, the cost question still remains – based on what the printer will be used for is it more effective to use a home printer or a 3d printing service?

3D printing services vs home printers, which is a better option to choose?

With the advancements and evolution in the 3D printing technologies, 3D printers with a range of capabilities (with an even larger range of price) are becoming available. Moving in-house and purchasing a 3d printer is a big commitment, but bringing in a third-party can feel unnecessary when some printers are accessible at such a low cost.

The route you take will be dependent on both your application and purpose. 3D printing services can be quite useful. It is because these can help you to experiment with the size, material, structure and much more with ease. Well, to make a more effective choice and let you understand things more properly, we will help you to have a look at the necessary information for both. So, here we go:

3D printing services

Pros

  • 3D printing services can be an amazing opportunity if you are looking for exceptional quality, high complexity, and low quantity.
  • If you need the 3D models in multiple sizes and non-standard materials, then this can be a useful option that you can consider to get unusual applications and materials in the best possible way.
  • You can have an expert performing 3D printing tasks for you without the cost or risk associated with hiring.
  • 3D printing services are normally based on multiple technologies that can bring the best and most wanted results in the best possible way.
  • It can come up with more material range than in-house printing systems.
  • Experts have knowledge about printing materials services and will consult on what materials are ideal for your application.
  • No initial investment.

Cons

  • The process can be slower than having a printer in-house, and you may need to wait for weeks to get your assignment completed.
  • The process can be slower than having a printer in-house, and you may need to wait for weeks to get your assignment completed.
  • Structural underutilization.

In-house 3D printers

Pros

  • Wide-range of materials for high performance.
  • It is quicker to implement than using 3rd party services.
  • Fine flexibility.
  • The entire design process will be under your control (ie keeping the full process in-house).
  • Scalable option.

Cons

  • Most of the in-house 3D printers can be limited to design materials technically.
  • To print large batches can be a very long process.
  • The print quality of Desktop printers isn’t as good as SLS or MJF print processes.
  • Unsuitable option for mass customization.
  • You need to hire well-trained staff.
  • A significant initial investment is required.
  • To manage and set up in-house 3D printers can require a significant amount of space (another cost worth considering).
  • Not suitable for shorter batches or higher quantities.

Compare the cost

When it comes to determining the cost of developing a 3D model, you’ll find the main variables to consider are the upfront necessary investments (cost of printer), workforce, design, intricacy, material, consumables, and space. Other costs should be considered, such as parts replacement, maintenance, and of course, your own time. Although this is not a quick cost analysis to make, it’s worth diving into to ensure an informed decision can be made.

As a rule of thumb, 3d printing services can help you scale your business on a low budget. Once more budget is available, you may find it makes sense to move in-house simply to be more agile or have full control over the process. However, as you continue to scale, quantity and required quality will likely go up, bringing you back to utilizing 3d printing services.

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