When is it the right option to buy a printer (or printers) yourself, and when is it best to collaborate with a 3D printing service?
Hardly an industry exists which has yet to be touched in some way by 3D printing, many in absolutely game-changing ways, as 3D printing addresses a great many business needs effectively and efficiently. 3D printing applications span a vast array of areas, from product design and development to manufacturing efficiency and product improvement, and the types of printing vary so widely that there can be no easy answers when deciding how to integrate 3D printing into your business. However, there's a fundamental split between whether it's best to outsource 3D printing or keep it in-house, and a few considerations can help you decide which is best for your situation.
3D Printing Costs and Budget
Outsourcing 3D printing can often be more cost-effective, as setting up an in-house 3D printing operation requires significant upfront investment in equipment, software, training, and maintenance. By collaborating with a 3D printing service, you can avoid these initial costs and pay only for the prints you need. 3D printing service cost varies depending on the type of prints and materials.
Expertise and Knowledge
3D printing technologies are evolving rapidly, and while you can certainly learn to work with this technology, there will be extensive training needs and a steep learning curve if you still need to be well-versed. Also, outsourcing to a specialized 3D printing service ensures that your projects benefit from professionals who are well-versed in their expertise in the intricacies of different materials, technologies, and design considerations. 3D printing services often offer design assistance and optimization to ensure your models are print-ready and meet your specifications. This can be particularly valuable if you need more internal design expertise to capitalize on the capabilities of 3D printing fully.
If your business experiences fluctuations in demand for 3D printed parts or products, outsourcing offers greater scalability. You can easily adjust your printing volume without worrying about underutilized equipment or overcapacity issues.
Materials and Technologies
A reputable 3D printing service offers a range of materials and technologies, including metal and more complex and costly printing techniques. Outsourcing allows you to leverage the specific materials and processes that best suit your project's requirements without investing in and managing multiple types of printers.
Time and Speed
3D printing services are equipped with professional-grade machines capable of producing high-quality prints efficiently. This can lead to faster turnaround times than setting up and operating your own printers, especially if your project requires a large volume of prints within a short time frame.
Maintenance and Upkeep
Operating and maintaining 3D printers involves ongoing maintenance, troubleshooting, and software updates. Outsourcing eliminates the need to allocate resources for printer maintenance, allowing your team to focus on core business activities.
The risk of unexpected technical issues, machine breakdowns, or design flaws can be minimized by relying on the expertise of a dedicated 3D printing service. They have the resources to address challenges quickly and effectively.
Reputable 3D printing services have quality control measures in place to ensure consistent and high-quality prints. They can provide detailed documentation and certifications for materials and processes, which may be necessary for specific industries.
We hope this helps you assess whether a 3D printing service will be the right choice for your business. Feel free to contact us for more information on how we can assist you with your 3D printing needs and to get a quote for your business.