The 3D printing technology is disrupting traditional fabrication methods. It’s turning designs into prototypes and finished products cheaply and fast. Hence, irrespective of your niche, you will require 3D printing at some point.
There are two options for accessing 3D printing services. You either buy a 3D printer or hire a 3D printing service. Hiring a 3D printing service is more economical. But how do you separate clutter from the best online 3D printing service providers?
You ought to define your product requirements first. Decide the printing material and the 3D technology your product requires. Further, figure out the size of the final 3D print. Once you have that outlined, select your preferred 3D printing service based on printing cost.
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The Best Online 3D Printing Services in 2021
Below are selected 7 best 3D printing services that fit your project needs ideally.
Sculpteo tops the list of our best 3D printing services. The company offers all 3D printing works. Sculpteo sorts you from design, prototype printing to the production of large batches of products. Their designers help you turn your idea into a 3D design.
Their website is easy to navigate and has an inbuilt cost calculator. Furthermore, there are several designs enhancing tools for your use in rectifying design flaws. With the website accepting over 30 file formats, you have the freedom to upload a design in your preferred file format.
Sculpteo offers several 3D printing technologies and printing materials. Moreover, it’s so easy to get a cost quote on their website. You need to upload your 3D design in a file format of your choice. Then optimize your design with the available tools. Finally, select the printing materials that fit your printer’s quality and usage. And, the cost calculator gives you an instant quote.
Do you find the cost more than you expected? Adjust the design. Hollow some parts, thicken the weak points. The more you adjust the design size, the lower the cost gets.
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Chuck Hull founded the 3D Systems Corporation in 1986. The same year when he patented stereolithography. This firm provides 3D printing services, 3D printers, and design tools.
This company is the oldest in the 3D printing game, with powerful 3D design tools.
It offers a variety of printing technologies. You get functional or model prototyping in various printing materials fast. More so, the thirty-plus years of experience place this firm in the best 3D printing service group.
Their website is easy to navigate. And the company also offers a vast list of previous designs for sale.
3D Systems Corporation has invested heavily in 3D printing tech research. You can expect better things in the future from this company.
Protolabs came into existence in 1999. Since then, this 3D printing service provider has specialized in the best 3D printing technologies. The technologies include selective laser sintering, stereolithography, and direct metal laser sintering. The introduction of industrial-grade printers in 2014 made this firm get among the best 3D printing services.
Whether you are an engineer or an industrial designer, Protolabs has something good for you. The firm has received fabrication leadership awards from Frost & Sullivan. They rewarded Protolabs for working with other 3D industry players to move from prototype designs to low-volume production.
Whether you are printing a prototype or a batch of items, Protolabs is there for you. They take orders online, 3D print, and deliver to you within days.
Check also: The 5 Amazing 3D Printers for Miniatures 2021
Based in Belgium, i. Materialize offers two services; software solutions and 3D printing.
To expand operations, this company has recently partnered with Siemens, SYNNEX, and Velleman. This partnership stamped its authority among the best 3D printing services in multiple niches.
i.Materialise has an incredible delivery time of between 2 to 12 days. Also, their easy-to-navigate website has a free cost calculator. Are you unsure of what to print? Fret not because the firm’s extensive catalog of designs is at your disposal. The company accepts many file formats and print designs in 20 plus materials.
Shapeways is among the largest 3D printing service providers globally. More, it allows you to order your design in 16 different materials. The variety of printing technology it offers makes Shapeways be among the best 3D printing services. You can print using Multi Jet Fusion (full-color printing), SLS, metal 3D printing, Binder Jetting, Polyjet, and DLS.
The company offers you two options to place an order. You either upload a finished design or use their custom tools to create one.
With their selection of precious metals such as gold and silver, they make unique 3D jewelry prints. They offer a lead-time of 2 to 15 days, depending on complexity and your designs’ preferred materials.
Stratasys Direct gets in the list of best 3D printing services for two reasons. First, their assortment of industrial-grade printers and the high-quality 3D prints it produces. This firm targets specialists in design niches such as engineering and medicine. But its wide range of dazzling printing materials is available for individual orders.
With Stratasys Direct, you get a free cost estimate of your 3D print. Also, the many design tools allow you to create and edit your 3D designs. You can test various concepts to get the best printing method and materials. Once you get the right design, your item gets printed. Stratasys Direct then selects the best shipping method to your preferred drop point. To top it up, you get to download your finished designs for future use.
Check also: Top 5 Free 3D Modeling Softwares in 2021
Ponoko offers you a 3D printing service, laser etching, and engraving. This company has designers, robots, and 3D printers to sort all your 3D printing needs. The prices start as low as $5 per print. And Ponoko offers a range of printing technologies on various printing materials.
Ponoko makes a bold offer to print and ship your order within a day! In brief, the offer means Ponoko can print your 3D designs and ship them to you in 24 hours.
Ponoko prints mainly in metals and plastic using 3D printers from ZCorp and 3D Systems. The leading printing technologies at Ponoko are ColorJet, FDM, and SLS. Their primary payment method is Paypal, and they ship worldwide.
Selection Criterion: Guide To The Best 3d Printing Service
Every 3D printing service has abilities and limitations. With the rapidly evolving 3D printing technologies, finding the best match for your project becomes challenging. Below is the criterion to use to get the best 3D printing service:
- The 3D printing technologies available: Various 3D technologies exist in the market today. They range from the early tech of stereo-lithography to the latest metal printing. Always go for that provider offering both new and old technologies. The more technologies available, the more flexible your design can get.
- The options of 3D printing materials available: The materials used to print designs range from metals to plastic filaments and polymers. Your design material depends on its functions and quality. A rigid part requires a different material with a joint. Select a 3D print service offering many print material options for your product.
- Price per print: The cost per print depends on the part’s size, the material used to print, and the technology applied. Most online 3D printer services have a free cost calculator on their websites. To be sure of the best quality for your money, compare prices across different printers. Pick the best quality for a reasonable cost.
- Capacity to handle large orders: Different printers have varying delivery speeds. Some claim an overnight delivery, but the majority take 2 to 15 days. Depending on your urgency, pick a service provider with a reputation for speed. A point to note, go for that service provider offering speed and consistent print quality.
- Location of the printing service: Most 3D printing services have printing facilities on several continents. The many operation centers eliminate the geographical location problem. You don’t have to share a location with a service provider to get their services. You make your order online and get your printed parts shipped to your doorstep.
- Software use support: 3D printers have limited file formats they can read. The software needed to make these file formats require special skills. Some 3D printing services offer help in using that software, either free or at a cost. While selecting your best match, put software help as a consideration. Check also if the 3D printing service has tools to optimize your 3D designs.
Several advantages accompany hiring a 3D printing service provider. You get to print your 3D designs cheaply and fast. Besides, you gain access to industrial-grade printers on demand.
Selecting the best printing service for your project isn’t easy. You need to evaluate several factors such as their 3D technology, materials, delivery speed, and printing cost.
The above listed seven best online 3D printing services offer a wide variety of services that ideally fit your 3D printing needs. Of importance to note is this list is not exhaustive and may change as new 3D printing services get into the market in the future.