Should You Buy a 3D Printer or Use a 3rd Party Service?

3D Printing has greatly evolved over the last decade, metamorphosing into a technology that may now be considered a staple in any rapid prototyping outlet. Before now, 3D printing was extremely scarce, and where available, relatively costly. Now, desk-sized 3D printers are almost as common as LaserJet printers. 

The widespread availability of 3D printing can be attributed to the boom in digital manufacturing, and development of more economic models with landing costs nearly lesser than half the prices in earlier models. For product design experts who love to model and prototype, the question remains whether to own a 3D printer or use a 3D printing service. We’ve collected some facts to help you decide! Enjoy. 

What constitutes a 3rd Party Service? 

3rd party services can be defined as service options that exist outside the capabilities of your own resources. In the case of 3D printing, it can refer to both outsourcing and online 3D printing services. While many people mistake these two services to be the same, they are quite different. 

Outsource Service vs Online 3D Printing 

Outsource services involves the handing over of a production order to a company to fulfill all manufacturing requirements, and deliver finished parts according to specifications. Online 3D printing, on the other hand, involves the use of a 3rd party online printing service to process your 3D print jobs. In Online 3D printing services, you still assume responsibility of your prints, the build quality and output. You’re simply billed to use the 3rd party’s 3D Printer. 

To Own or 3rd Party?

Below is a table comparison all 3 options for processing your 3D printing design: 

Online 3D Printing Services 

While online 3D printing services may vary from provider to provider, the concept and process is relatively similar. Basically, every online 3D printing solution will require you to: 

I. Upload your 3D CAD design file 

II. Specify parameters like material, process, layer height, delivery date 

III. Receive and service the price quotation 

IV. Pick-up or receive finished 3D printed parts

Firstpart 3D Printing Services 

Don’t own or can’t get a 3D printer? Come to Firstpart! If you’re looking to make high-quality 3D printed prototypes for a wide variety of applications. Firstpart is your one-stop-shop outsource manufacturers in China. Our industrial 3D printers are capable of making 3D parts with complex geometries at cost-effective rates. We also offer multiple post-printing solutions to help finish your parts, while our other manufacturing solutions like Plastic injection molding and CNC machining is readily available to help upscale your project to mass production.