For any model or prototype part design, 3D printing is a fast and efficient solution. Devices designed for this type of use are manufactured to adapt to the complexity of the model, which allows a result close to perfection. The only downside is that they are sold at quite high prices and it can take a while for the user to get used to them. So, in order to save you time and money, a large number of online 3D printing services have been created.
Online 3D printing service: how does it work?
Online 3D printing services are provided by specialized platforms via internet. These sites are able to offer in a short period of time an almost perfect result at the request of an individual who would like to have a 3D model of a part or an effigy printed.
The customer will simply have to inform on the platform the file containing the 3D model of the part to be printed followed by its characteristics (color, material ...). If he doesn't already have a model of the part, he can still order it. After that, he will be sent a detailed estimate of the work to be done.
We can see that the price is certainly quite substantial, but it is more affordable than having to invest in a printer with all that this can entail as secondary costs (maintenance, materials, energy ...).
What are the advantages of using a 3D printing service?
The primary advantage of using this type of service is the price, which is quite affordable for a quality result. Then, there is the handling. Indeed, you no longer need to try to understand how the printer works, the 3D printing service takes care of everything for you.
What's more, these platforms are managed by professionals who guarantee you a work well done in record time. They guarantee you a 99% perfect result and you don't even have to worry about any complications that might arise during printing. What's more, the platforms offer a varied range of materials. Which would be hard to get unless you have a warehouse and a big budget.
Selection of the best online 3D printing services
As you can see, the quality/price ratio of such a service is very advantageous. However, there are many online 3D printing services available. It is therefore necessary to know how to recognize the best ones in order to expect a result that meets your expectations. Our ranking for this purpose is the following.
The Sculpteo brand is one of the first choices when it comes to 3D printing service platforms in Europe. Created since 2009, it offers a so-called high resolution service. It provides both printing and 3D modeling of parts.
It offers a range covering up to 48 different materials (plastic, metal, resin, wax, ceramics, etc.). In addition, it allows customers to choose between 16 million different colors.
These are obtained thanks to a mineral powder that infiltrates directly into the total mass of the part. As for delivery, Sculpteo offers a lead time that varies between 2 and 21 days.
Created in 2013, the 3D Hubs platform is a network to connect customers and owners of 3D printers. Initially, it was mainly made up of amateurs with 3D printers. But since 2018, it focuses only on professionals.
It is present in 20 countries and includes 250 different suppliers. This allows it to cover the majority of printing systems (FDM, SLA, SLS, DMLS...) and also a wide range of materials. The platform already counts more than 4 million achievements.
Materialise OnSite is a Belgian platform that offers a wide variety of printing systems, namely :
- a 3D FDM (Fusion Deposition Modeling) printing service ;
- A laser sintering printing service (SLS) ;
- a 3D metal printing service;
- Stereolithography (resin) ;
In addition, the platform is equipped with an automatic quotation system which allows you to know the price of your order very quickly. Finally, it guarantees a delivery time of 10 days maximum which is respected for most materials.
Kraftwurx is the 3D printing platform with the widest variety of manufacturing materials. It counts 85 different materials and therefore allows you to make the difference on the market.
Another particularity of this platform is that it has been built following an E-commerce model. You can register your models on the site, print them and send them directly to your customers' addresses.
The only downside is that Kraftwurx is not necessarily easy to use. Indeed, its interface may seem complex at first glance.
Like the Materialise OnSite platform, i.Materialise is a 3D printing platform that offers an automatic estimate. This is delivered instantly after the order.
In addition, it offers a processing time that varies between 2 and 12 days, depending on the material used, printing techniques and other factors. Despite the fact that this is a Belgian platform, it can also ship products internationally.