Should you buy a 3D printer or use plastic 3D printing service?

Should you buy a 3D printer or use plastic 3D printing service?

Is it better to buy a 3d printer or use a 3d printing service for plastic parts ? Basically, the answer depends on the frequency you will use it and also whether or not you can train your staff members to use it with ease. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that plastic 3D printing is much less attractive than traditional technologies of rapid prototyping.

3D printing and traditional technologies of plastic rapid prototyping

At this point, we may elaborate a comparison between three-dimensional printing and traditional manufacturing processes for plastics (read our article differences between rapid prototyping and 3D printing). First of all, 3D printing enables the making of complex geometries, which turn out to be a disadvantage as it doesn’t give insights about possible production infeasibilities during the industrial phase.

Therefore, traditional processes of rapid prototyping are more convenient as they are closer to injection plastics. Moreover, the resins used in plastic 3D printing are far from simulating the real material used in CNC machining. Indeed, the parts made from additive technologies won’t be functional as they will easily break if confronted to relatively demanding mechanical activities. What’s more, they age very badly and lose their color overtime.

What does plastic 3D printing service enable?

Additive production methods are usually recommended to manufacture simple plastic parts without functional needs. It is ideal to rapidly visualize a part in reality, but it cannot replace neither CNC machining nor vacuum casting. Moreover, 3D printing is not fit for small series.

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Comments (6)

  • Tucker Reply

    Hello, do you recommend producing pieces by 3D printing where the pieces will be functional and used on a machine? Please advise

    31 January 2018 at 16 h 27 min
    • Prototech
      Prototech Reply

      Dear Tucker,

      Many thanks for your comment,

      We need to know more about the functionality of the piece. From our experience, we usually produce functional parts by 3D printing, but we should also follow all your requirements. If you send us your files, we are able to advise you on what will best work for you.

      The Prototech Team

      1 February 2018 at 4 h 41 min
  • Judy Reply

    Hey there! How many pieces of the same model can you produce by 3D printing?

    29 January 2018 at 16 h 48 min
    • Prototech
      Prototech Reply

      Dear Judy,

      We can produce as many parts by 3D printing as you want. However, if you need more than a few parts we suggest you use another technology because SLA might be too expensive.

      30 January 2018 at 5 h 17 min
  • Sylvain Reply

    Hello! If I am ordering vacuum casted parts, will you provide the master piece as well?
    By the way how do you produce the master piece? By 3D printing? Thanks

    25 January 2018 at 9 h 22 min
    • Prototech
      Prototech Reply

      Dear Sylvain,

      We can provide the master piece if needed but we generally provide the entire vacuum casted parts. We can produce the master by 3D printing or by CNC machining.

      26 January 2018 at 3 h 06 min