Additive manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, is perhaps one of the most popular technologies of the present era. With its wide number of applications and uses, the possibilities that 3-D printers open for the users are endless.
If you look back at the history of 3-D printing, you may be surprised to learn that this technology was actually born during the 80s. But you may have heard of a dedicated 3D printing company only in recent times. So why did the printing technology remain unheard of for so long?
The reason for this lies in two factors- availability was sparse and the machines too expensive. So, during the early days of additive manufacturing, its application was restricted only to select industries. Fast forwarding to the 2000s, concerted efforts of several scientists and researchers have brought in new machines which are cheaper.
As more people can now access 3D printing, they are becoming more aware of the technology and its various benefits. This awareness has undoubtedly created a huge demand in the market for companies that can offer quality services. Before you look at the selection process for such a service, it may be helpful to delve deeper into what 3D printing is.
What is 3D printing?
Almost all people today at least have a rough idea regarding what 3D printing is capable of. The simple idea is that objects of any desired shape and size can be created merely by providing these special classes of printers with the design. Though the concept is correct, it is rather shallow and partial.
3D printers can indeed create objects using a digital file. But unlike the manufacturing process that one observes in most of the other places, the 3D printer uses the additive technique. In most of the usual manufacturing processes, objects are created by cutting or hollowing out the desired shape from a larger or a bulkier substance.
But in 3D printing, this method is completely reversed. Objects are made here by superimposing several layers of the materials until the desired item is created. So, in essence, each layer is a thin cross-section of the desired shape.
Owing to this reverse process, 3D printing technology can create more intricate shapes. It also consumes much lesser resources in comparison to the traditional manufacturing techniques. Given the kind of progress 3D printers have made merely in the space of some 35 years, it will be no exaggeration to say that this has changed the whole technological landscape.
Selecting the Right Service
You may be a business module looking for some cost-efficient parts. Or you may be a brand looking for some creative way to interact with your fans. Or you may be just anyone willing to create a unique design or object. Whichever category you fall into, selecting the right 3D printing company is an easy choice. If you take your search to the internet, you are likely to find so many different names that zeroing down one may push you to a dilemma.
Leading companies have some unique edges that mark them apart from all other manufacturers. They do not just provide multiple options in terms of finishes and textures, but they also help by delivering on-demand proto-types and support short-run manufacturing.
Take a look at some of the points that you can keep in mind while looking for similar manufacturing companies:
Choice of Material
When you are looking for a 3D printing company, the first point that you must keep in mind is the choice of material that the company offers. Not all kinds of material are suitable for all purposes. For instance, if you are planning to manufacture machinery through 3D printing, you may want the part to be sturdy and long-lasting.
Opposed to that, designs printed for artistic needs require a material that is finer in terms of features. You may even need very specific materials depending on the kind of product that you want to manufacture. So, when you are looking for a service, make sure they offer you a wide choice of materials.
Experience in The Past
Offering a wide choice of materials alone is not enough if the company has not worked with them in the past. As easy as it may seem, creating accurate designs with the right choice of materials takes both expertise as well as experience. You definitely would not want to rely on manufacturers who are just learning the ropes of the industry. So, the experience that the company holds should be at the top of your short-listing factors.
Cost of the Service
The very reason more and more people are turning towards 3D printing, rejecting the traditional techniques, is because of cost efficiency. As compared to traditional techniques, 3D printing consumes lesser resources and is the least wasteful. But the saving that you make in terms of resources will mean nothing unless the services that you are opting for are cost-efficient too.
So it is important to request quotes from the company before going through the other steps.
Assistance for Design
A very basic fact with regards to 3D printers is that in order to get your desired shape, you will need to provide them with three-dimensional models. Though there are several software available to make such models, you cannot make a precise one as a beginner.
That is why, along with printing, the leading companies also offer design assistance. Even if you already have a fixed design, they can still help you optimize it. They can also sculpt out the rough edges from your design so that you can get finer results.
Apart from that, the quantities of manufacturing, the time taken to deliver are some of the other factors that you must take note of. For instance, some companies only produce products in bulk while others are willing to take in smaller orders.
Taking the above factors into consideration, you can easily select the right manufacturing company for all your 3D printing needs.