3d Printing Servicesturn Your Idea Into A Product

Idea #2: 3D Printed Promotional Goods. Advertisers remain ever-vigilant for the next creative and interactive way to reach their target audiences. 3D printing has turned into the ideal cross-over that works well for both brands and customers, and a clever 3D printing idea could be something that wins you thousands of dollars in business because advertisers see how good you are. The promise of “press the print button' and, voila, your product prototype is ready within minutes — is a myth. The best way to prototype is to use one of the many 3D Printing Service Bureaus. While 3D printing is a powerful way to test and refine a product idea, unless your plan is to become an expert in running the printer, it is easier.

Finding a good 3D printing service isn’t easy in rapidly changing 3D printing space. With the costs of even desktop 3D printers still inaccessible to many, a service can greatly reduce the headaches associated with the process.

But what exactly IS a 3D printing service…

What is a 3D printing service?

3D printing services are companies that will print out objects on your behalf. One of the most important benefits of such a service is that an individual can have access to very expensive, industrial-grade 3D printers. Then there is the fact that you send scans, photographs, stl or even physical items to be fabricated using a 3D printer.

You can choose any material, color, size you want and the customization options are endless. Another great benefit of using such a service is that it’s convenient. The company will take care of everything for you and you will end up with a high quality printed item in your mail.

All the logistics, settings, materials and all the hard work will be done by professionals to ensure the best quality print delivered to you at a reasonable time frame.

1) Treatstock

Treatstock is another web service that bundles the forces of 3D printing services all over the world. Its instant quote system is very well designed for newcomers as you can choose between major 3D printing applications (prototyping, jewelry and dental), and special materials (multi-color and metal). Each category displays the relevant printing materials in a wide range of colors.

Another great feature that Treatstock offers to its users is a 3D model selling platform. Treatstock invites artists to open storefronts and upload their designs so customers can purchase and 3D print them. What is more, Treatstock features a handful of apps on its website that enables the creation of braille labels to make life easier for the visually impaired, and relief 3D images based on photos.

Treatstock can fabricate items in materials like metal, plastic, gypsum, paper, powder, resin, wax as well as wood. They accept payments via Credit Card and can ship worldwide.

Treatstock website: treatstock.com

2) Sculpteo

Like Shapeways and i.materialise, Sculpteo is an online 3D printing service that allows anyone to upload 3D models and have them fabricated in a wide variety of materials. In keeping with its competitors, Sculpteo also allows individuals and professionals to open up an online store front and sell their designs to the public.

Sculpteo’s stable of printers includes high-end machines by 3D Systems, EOS, Stratasys, and ZCorp. Its extensive technical documentation will help you detect design flaws and choose the right material for your project.

Sculpteo is able to print items in materials like metal, plastic, ceramic, resin and wax. They accept standard Credit Card, Debit Card and PayPal payments and are able to ship worldwide using UPS or other services for specific locations.

Sculpteo website: sculpteo.com

Further Reading:

3) i.materialise

Materialise is a company that works with industrial clients to produce prototypes and 3D printed products. But for the general public and individual designers, Materialise offers an online 3D printing service called i.materialise.

Like Shapeways, the 3D printing service allows anyone to just upload their 3D models, have them analyzed and then printed by the company for you. Once an object has been uploaded and successfully printed, a designer can offer it for sale either via the gallery on the i.materalise online store, or embedded on their website.

I.materialise gives the ability for items to be printed in materials such as plastic, metal, ceramic, resin or wood. They support all the major payment methods like Credit Card and PayPal and ship worldwide using UPS.

i.materialise website: i.materialise.com

Into

4) Stratasys Direct

One of the leading manufacturers of industrial-grade 3D printers, Stratasys is also offering a high-quality 3D printing service. Fittingly, Stratasys sports a dazzling assortment of materials, from which its user can choose from. This online 3D printing service is aimed at professionals in engineering, medicine, and industrial design. Another great feature of its online quoting page is the ability to create and edit styles (consisting of the printing method, material, finishing and surface treatment) that can be applied to successive projects. Stratasys is also sharing its expertise with companies interested in switching to additive manufacturing.

Stratasys Direct allows for items to be printed in materials such as metal, plastic, acrylic, ceramic, foam and wax. Since they are in direct contact with professionals, the payment details, as well as the shipping methods, are internally chosen.

Stratasys Direct website: stratasysdirect.com

5) Shapeways

We will start off with Shapeways, the worlds most popular online 3D printing service. Shapeways offers 2 services.

The Shop service, where you can choose from a big collection of items designed by professionals, customize them and then have them printed at your specifications That means that professionals can also use the platform to upload their work and get for it when people decide to print their creations.

The Make service is exactly what it sounds like. You give Shapeways an object or 3D design of what you want to print, you tell them your needs, being material, color, etc, and they will take care of the rest for you. You will also get a quote of how much your print job will cost instantly. It really is as simple as that.

Their material selection varies from metal, plastic, ceramic, sandstone and even wax. As far as payments go, they accept Credit Card, PayPal, and Bank Transfer. Shapeways ships worldwide using services such as DHL, UPS, and USPS.

Servicesturn

Shapeways website: shapeways.com

6) Protolabs

With 500 machines placed around the world, Protolabs services industries worldwide since the early 2000s. This 3D printing service offers the full spectrum of rapid prototyping technologies since you can order parts made with injection molding.

Consequently, you can produce high-quality prototypes that have similar properties to the finished products. These parts can be used for promotional photo shootings and be subjected to extensive functional testing. After uploading the 3D design files, you get an instant quote of how much the parts will cost for the selected settings and materials.

3d Printing Servicesturn Your Idea Into A Productive

Protolabs can print using materials such as metal, plastic, and nylon. They accept payment using invoices or PayPal and are able to ship worldwide.

Protolabs website: protolabs.com

7) Ponoko

Ponoko provides an online 3D printing service plus laser etching and engraving too. The company has designers, 3D printers and robots on hand, and pricing starts as low at $5 depending on what needs printing and the materials you choose. Ponoko also offers same day shipping if you order before a cut-off point. In theory, that means it is possible to convert your STL or CAD files into actual physical products and have them in your hands within the space of a day. Ponoko’s professional 3D printers are from 3D Systems and ZCorp.

Ponoko’s services can only print in metal and plastic materials using ColorJet, FDM or SLS processes. They seem to accept PayPal as their main payment option and ship worldwide using services such as UPS and USPS.

3d Printing Servicesturn Your Idea Into A Product

Ponoko’s website: ponoko.com

8) 3D Hubs

3D Hubs is a little different from the standard 3D printing services, in that there is not one company that does all the printing, but individuals all around the world. This is a different approach to the concept of ordering 3D printed parts but it works, and give bigger flexibility to the user.

The way it works is very simple. You upload your 3D designs to 3D Hubs, you select the material you want, and you get a list of different Hubs in the selected area. Hubs can be either big companies or individuals that will do all the 3D printing for you. A big benefit of such a service is that if you choose a local Hub, you can go and pick up your order for free. You get a different quote of the price for every Hub you see, so you have many options and price ranges to choose from.

3D Hubs officially has support for Hubs that can print any material, such as metal, plastic, paper, resin, stone, and wax. As for payments, they support all the major payment methods like Credit Card and PayPal, as well as some local payment methods depending on your location. Shipment is dependent on the Hub itself, but there is always the free option of picking it up yourself if the Hub is nearby.

3D Hubs website: 3dhubs.com

Summary: Top 3D Printing Services

3D Printing ServiceFeatures
Shapeways

  • Simple. Turns Your Ideas Into Reality

  • Open Free Shop to Sell Your Creations

  • Great for Beginners and Professionals alike

  • Ships Worlwide

3D Hubs

  • Flexibility. Your Ideas are Printed By Individuals and Companies From Around the World

  • You Can Choose The Hub Yourself

  • Free Shipping If You Choose Local Hub

i.Materialise

  • Untreated Brass - Give Your Prints a Vintage Look

  • Wide Range Of Supported Materials

  • Hosts Your Shop Much Like Shapeways

  • Worldwide Shipping

Stratasys Direct

  • High-Quality 3D Printing

  • Huge assortment of Materials

  • Has Online Quoting Page To Create and Edit Styles

  • Aimed for Professional Use

Sculpteo

  • Wide Variety of Materials

  • Hosts Your Online Storefront With Your Products

  • Worlwide Shipping

Protolabs

  • Rapid Prototyping Service

  • Fast Process - Sending Parts Quickly

  • Quick and Accurate Quoting Process

Ponoko

  • Standard Turn Around of 1 Week - Free

  • No Limits on The Amount Of Order (1-Unlimited)

  • Post Paid Service

  • Offers Same Day Shipping

Treatstock

  • Isntant Quote System

  • Hosts Your Storefronts To Sell your Products

  • Enables Creation of Braille Labels

  • Wide range of Supported Materials

Further Research

With Mercedes-Benz announcing last year that it is now selling 3D printed spare parts for its cargo trucks, 3D printing is gaining momentum as a commercial strategy for large-scale manufacturers.

But what does 3D printing mean for non-enterprise businesses and entrepreneurs? Can 3D printing really offer ordinary people the chance to change their lives?

As the technology becomes more widely available, 3D printing is set to revolutionize the home business world. 3D printing enables people to embrace the world of product design and run manufacturing, ecommerce, and design businesses from the comfort of their own homes.

Interested? Let’s explore how you can 3D print your own products and sell them online in a world where 3D printing is set to fundamentally change eCommerce.

Looking to design and sell a 3D product for a community project? Check out our previous post on how you could get yourself some free promotion.

3D Printing and the eCommerce Opportunity

“When I first discovered 3D printing several years ago, I instantly knew it was magical. My mind was blown by the technology: an almost infinite amount of shapes can be “grown,” layer by layer, just by using a printer. This is going to be disruptive, I knew. It would empower entrepreneurs, freeing them from the constraints of traditional manufacturing.” (Brian Palacios).

3d Printing Servicesturn Your Idea Into A Production

3D printing is an amazingly democratic technology: it works for the small time business owner, as well as the enterprise company. It presents a unique opportunity to cut out ‘the middlemen’ like manufacturers, letting business owners go straight to the source and take control of the product design progress. Instead of huge manufacturing machinery, business owners only need 3D printing facilities or 3D printers to run their business.

3d printing servicesturn your idea into a production

Using automation and easy personalization, 3D printing is able to offer people cheaper and better products, as well as products that are completely custom and unique. 3D printing allows for easy on-demand commerce: a more streamlined business model that gets rid of the traditional problems of holding inventory and stock.

3D Print and Sell Product Designs

In order to make the most of 3D printing, you need a novel idea or product that leverages 3D printing in a strategic or creative way. Think about how printing your product could potentially disrupt an industry or offer consumers a better way to do something. Product design is an art form, so spend time refining your ideas and designs.

New to design? Start by learning from free Computer Animated Design (CAD) tools such as Blender, Sculptris, TinkerCAD, Fusion 360, Onshape or SelfCAD. You’d be surprised by how quickly and easily you can teach yourself and conjure a professional-looking design after just a few tutorials. By making use of free online resources and putting the time in to teach yourself, you can create customizable designs or moving parts to sell online.

Remember: not all products are meant to look ‘good’ — some are practical solutions to common problems.

Here are some high-demand product niches with reasonably healthy profit margins that are easy to fulfill using a 3D printer:

  • Nerf gun accessories
  • Customized shoes and flipflops
  • Architectural models
  • Movie-style props and memorabilia
  • Drone accessories, such as camera holders
  • Decorative ornaments and vases

Give yourself the means to create a multitude of different 3D printed products – that way, you can stock new products as soon as you notice a gap in the market, or when a particularly high-demand product goes out of stock on Amazon or Ebay.

Importance of Market & Value Research

In order to create and sell successful products, you need to understand the mindset of your target audience. Get to the crux of what makes them tick by identifying as much as you can about their aspirations, desires, and challenges. You need to get into the mindset of a particular demographic in order to create something they’ll want to buy. Do market research on platforms like Quora, niche forums, reddit, social media, and blogs to get an unvarnished view into their world.

3d printing servicesturn your idea into a product search

If you’re looking to get more precise data, use Google Trends and conduct your own keyword research to find out exactly what your customers are searching for online. KeywordTool.io and UberSuggest.io are two fantastic (free) tools. The closer you can get your product offering to what your target audience is actually searching for, the better.

Top tip: Speak to people in the industry to find out what solutions and products they’ve been waiting for, and see whether you can help solve their problems.

Finding your markets

Setting up your own online store is a great way to get your business off the ground and grant you greater autonomy over the look, feel, and functionality of your business. But as well as your own store, you should get your products and designs in front of the 3D printing community. By leveraging the power of an existing audience, you can fast-track product sales and business growth.

Whether you print the products yourself, or leave that to a 3D printing and fulfilment company, make sure that you have healthy margins and remain financially in control. Don’t get so carried away by an idea that you forget to make some money out of it!

Here are some popular ecommerce options to consider:

  • I.Materialise 3D print store
  • Shapeways (the ‘Amazon’ of 3D printing)
  • Marketplaces like Etsy, Ebay & Amazon are good for spare parts, memorabilia, and B2C goods
  • WordPress has loads of free ecommerce themes
  • Shopify has a purpose-built online store that scales from entrepreneur to enterprise.

The Best eCommerce Advice?

Our best advice to get started is simply stated. Embrace the multi-channel approach and sell wherever and whenever you can. Make the most of seasonal trends and spikes in consumer interest, and diversify your sales platforms to stay ahead of the competition.

Leverage the practical and technological advantages of 3D printing, and create a business that’s as future-proof as possible. From conception to production, the key is to be adaptable and consistently research your niche market to stay ahead of the curve, providing products that your target audience wants before other manufacturers do!

Setting up your own store to sell 3D products? Tell us what you’re up to in the comments.

Read more about 3D printing at Fabbaloo!

3d cad3d printingbusinessfabbaloo0AuthorFabbalooFabbaloo tracks developments in the amazing technology of 3D Printing, publishing news and analysis daily. Whether from a manufacturer’s press release, onsite coverage of events or just some crazy ideas we thought up, our material will keep you up to date.

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