Make: 3D Printing (2014)
Part V. Services
Chapter 11. Service Providers
These companies will print your models in a range of exotic materials.
Colleen Jordan, Stett Holbrook, and Anna Kaziunas France
If you don’t have a 3D printer, you can still enjoy the benefits and fun of turning a CAD file into a physical object. It’s well worth getting familiar with the growing number of 3D printing service providers, and commercial providers can print in a surprising range of materials not available to the home printer user. Even if you do own a printer, it’s great to be able to turn a piece of art or technology you prototyped in plastic into something enduring, like titanium or stainless steel.
New York. Dust it off and it’s ready to walk." width="1250" height="804" />
Figure 11-1. A Strandbeest mechanism by Theo Jansen, printed in nylon on an EOS selective laser sintering (SLS) machine at Shapeways headquarters in New York. Dust it off and it’s ready to walk.
Upload Files and Order Prints
Shapeways caters to hobbyists and designers, offering high-quality prints in a wide range of materials, including sterling silver, stainless steel, brass, and ceramic. They often have the lowest prices, but with production based in the Netherlands, their stated shipping times of 2–3 weeks haven’t always been accurate. They recently built a production facility in New York to meet demand.
Shapeways also offers a marketplace of designs where users can open their own shops. Because theirs is the most visible of these services, having a shop on their site is almost essential to getting started selling your work. There’s little up-front cost or commitment.
Ponoko offers 3D printing in a wide range of materials, from plastics and ceramics to stainless steel, gold plate, and Z Corp plasters. They also offer laser cutting and CNC routing in a huge variety of materials, so you can supplement your 3D-printed project with other custom parts.
Prints from Ponoko are generally very good quality and reasonably priced, but their pricing structure and system for uploading models are confusing. They do have a very good support staff who will go above and beyond to help you with any questions. Ponoko operates several regional production facilities, so printing and shipping times vary.
Material choices from this France-based company include multicolored plastic, resin, ceramic, wax, alumide, and sterling silver. The company sells a sample kit of materials for $5. They offer a preview and live printability check that is very useful, and automatic model repair inside the web interface. They also offer many “creator” apps for you to begin making right away. Shipping times vary from 1–30 days depending on the material (upload your files for real-time estimates). Users may also post their objects for sale on the company’s website.
Another 3D printing service based out of the Netherlands, i.materialise has a very clear and easy-to-use interface. Choose from more than 20 materials—including titanium!—and print objects as large as 6 feet. Objects you create can be sold on the company’s gallery. Depending on your location, objects ship in 1–5 days.
Kraftwurx is a platform that enables individuals to create, buy, sell, and display 3D-printed products. Headquarted in Houston, TX, Kraftwurx does not own a factory but instead uses a network of over 120 manufacturers for local on-demand production. This distributed production model allows them to provide 85 different materials, including gold, sterling silver, titanium, Iconel, stainless steel, Platinum, plastics, and paper.
Staples (partnering with Mcor)
Myeasy3D is a collaboration between Staples and Mcor, the producer of the Iris full color paper 3D printer. This service is currently only available in Europe.
Makers Producing Parts Locally
makexyz connects local 3D printer owners and people who need 3D prints. If you have a printer, registration is free and you can also advertise design services. If you need prints produced, you choose a listed printer near you, upload your 3D file, configure your options, and then check out through makexyz. The printer can either accept or decline your order, and you can have your print shipped or pick it up.
3D Hubs works in a similar way to makexyz: it aims to facilitate transactions between printer owners with those who want prints, but is also focused on building community and critical mass as “local print hubs” in an area before it begins connecting makers. Check out the web site for available 3D Hubs near you.
Find Me a Printer
Print Chomp provides printing quotes for a variety of printed goods, from 3D printing to business cards to banners. You upload your file and configure your options and they send you a quote.
Here’s a self-service website for those who need plastic prototypes in a hurry. The site, a division of Solid Concepts, specializes in same-day 3D printing and shipping, with next-day and next-week options too. It’s best suited for customers who know their way around CAD and 3D design. Fast, but it costs more.
RedEye, a division of 3D printing giant Stratasys, serves the architectural, medical, engineering, and aerospace industries with rapid prototyping. The company prints objects in various thermoplastics, UV photopolymers, and resins. Professional services, professional prices. Shipping time ranges from 1–2 weeks.
3D Factory is based in NYC and focuses on the jewelry industry. Their services include 3D printing, casting, stone setting, finishing, and 3D scanning services. 3DPhactory also provides consulting and design services.
Boutique 3DP Design and Printing
3dPhacktory is located in Toronto, Canada, and provides both 3D printing and design services that can ship printed designs within 48 hours. They offer 24-hour rapid prototyping turnaround, personalization, and 3D scanning services through Industrial Pixel. Customers are encouraged to visit the 3DPhacktory collaborative with their designers or rent time on a workstation and design themselves. They also provide post-production services.
Solid-Ideas is a boutique model-making and design agency in Northern California that offers model-making, prototyping, and custom fabrication services. They specialize in professional services for architecture, marketing, and other fields that take products from conceptual design to prototypes and marketing models.
Colleen Jordan is a the founder of Wearable Planter (http://wearableplanter.com).
Stett Holbrook is a senior editor at MAKE.
Anna Kaziunas France is the Digital Fabrication Editor at Maker Media.