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Who you gonna call? (ghostbusters)

by Pete Basiliere  |  April 2, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

“If there’s something weird, And it don’t look good,” call the Ghostbusters.

But a “freaky” 3D print? If you are considering additive manufacturing then engaging a 3D print service bureau mitigates your investment risk.

Complicating the adoption of 3D printers by more organizations is the fact the price of enterprise-class devices ranges from $2,500 to over $2.5 million. Few companies will make significant investments without an acceptable ROI, which cannot be determined if 3D-printed pieces are not produced.

A practical alternative to making a significant investment is to engage with a 3D print service bureau. Let the experts who have already invested in the 3D printers and software, and who have experience with a wide range of materials, take on the risk. In other words, try before you buy.

3D print service bureaus are companies with physical or online outlets that produce objects created with 3D printers. The objects are derived from digital or physical models supplied by customers, and may be concept models, prototypes or finished goods. For low-volume manufacturing and experimentation, 3D print service bureaus are an ideal solution for many organizations.

Indeed, these bureaus represent a new future for contract manufacturing.

The 3D print service bureau market can be distilled down to three business models:

  • 3D print technology providers operating a service bureau
  • Firms that exclusively employ 3D print technologies
  • Blended shops with both conventional and additive manufacturing equipment.

3DP Service Bureau Business Models report graphic

While additive manufacturing is their primary product offering, 3D print service bureaus typically offer one or more of these additional services:

  • Application engineering (in-house design and consulting services, reverse engineering, file optimization, topology optimization, process simulation and other services)
  • Postprocessing (milling, finishing, heat treatment, grinding, eroding, wire cutting, surface coating and other services)
  • Assembly (3D-printed and other parts into subassemblies, and subassemblies into final assemblies)
  • Quality assurance testing (process monitoring and documentation; computed tomography [CT] scanning; tests such as tensile strength, surface roughness and hardness; functional testing; and other services)

Reflecting the diversity of the items produced, the 3D print service bureau market is composed of startups and firms with 30 years of experience, bureaus that employ one technology or many, providers that target a niche or welcome all comers. My recent report, Market Guide for 3D Print Service Bureaus, profiles ten bureaus and lists another 100 3D print service bureaus worldwide.

Even organizations that have embraced 3D printing recognize the value that 3D print service bureaus offer. They may be prototyping in plastic yet need 3D-printed metal parts for the final goods and be unwilling to invest in the necessary technology. Or they are heavily invested in additive manufacturing, to the point that they have designed parts that can be made only with 3D printing, and need the business continuity support that a service bureau provides.

3D print service bureaus enable you to learn the opportunities and risks, tips and techniques associated with additive manufacturing.

Who ya gonna call?


Ghostbusters written by Ray Parker Jr.
Ghostbusters lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Ray Parker Jr Dba Raydiola Music

Additional Resources

Category: 3d-printing  additive-manufacturing  it-cost-optimization  supply-chain  

Tags: 3-d-print  3d-print  3d-print-service-bureaus  3d-printer  additive-manufacturing  application-engineering  assembly  ghostbusters  post-processing  postprocessing  prototyping  quality-assurance  roi  

Pete Basiliere
Research Vice President
12 years at Gartner
18 years IT Industry

Mr. Basiliere provides research-based insights on 3D printing and digital printing hardware, software and materials. Mr. Basiliere's Maverick research coined the term Generation AI, people born after 2010 who will not know a world without application intelligence in their lives. Read Full Bio

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