(Click a region above to find online 3D printing services near you.)
Online 3D Printing: Pros and Cons
Online 3D printing has been around for quite a while, but only recently has it become popular in the consumer market. Tech blogs, enthusiast websites, and other online media outlets have made more and more people curious about 3D printing.
There are many services out there that help you realize your dream of having a product created through 3D printing. These 3D printing online services allow anyone who has the financial resources, to obtain a 3D printed object without learning how to use their own 3D printer.
The biggest pro to using an online 3D printing service is that you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself. Some services offer consultations that allow you to perfect your product before it gets printed for the first time. Some even offer revisions of printed objects that don’t turn out the way you wanted.
Other services are more do-it-yourself, so that you get the rewarding feeling of being involved without actually doing the printing on your own. These services are often much cheaper than the traditional companies that offer a more full featured service.
The best part about using a service is its simplicity. With many of these services, you simply upload your design, give them your info and specifications, and they’ll ship your object to you within a few weeks.
The biggest con to using one of these services is cost. The cost can add up over time, especially if you’re printing in single units. Of course if you’re printing in bulk, you will incur a higher upfront cost, but you will receive a discount.
You should also be prepared for not knowing the entire cost by just Googling “3D printing online”. Almost all of the companies you’ll find in that search offer quotes but no idea on what the cost will be before you make contact.
If you’re just a hobbyist, stick to services that cater to your market, instead of going with companies that are more focused on industry mass 3D printing and rapid prototyping services. This could save you tons of money.
The other con about online 3D printing is that the objects you get can’t be altered without going through the process again. With your own 3D printer at home, you can alter a design without having to pay for the service a second time. Having to go back to a service because the design isn’t right can cost money and waste time.
Should You Use A 3D Printing Online Service or Buy Your Own 3D Printer?
If cost is a barrier for you, as it is for most entrepreneurs, then I would honestly say that a consumer 3D printing device would be your best option.
There are options out there that can get you started for less than $3000.
If you don’t want to do it yourself with your own printer, then online services that cater to hobbyists and artists are your best bet and can be found by clicking your region on the map above.