We are assuming that all of you by this time is known to the benefits of 3D printing. Digging a slight deeper into this topic will make you come across 3D metal printing and make you familiar with its benefits.
When you metal 3D print, not only are your designs unconstrained by the geometrical limitations that come during molding and casts but also you unlock the possibility of 3D printing stronger parts.
You also increase the possibility of producing novel one-offs that can be then redesigned and scaled up to volume additive manufacturing. All this can be done without the costs of retooling. As there has been a rise in 3D printing, so there has been a rise in 3D metal printing.
And in recent years, many companies have emerged making metal 3D printing more accessible and affordable than ever. So, in this article, we are going to make you familiar with some of the fast and affordable 3D metal printing services.
By capitalizing on the increasing demand with their office-ready systems which are specially built for bringing fast ROI and agility to the production environment which cannot be otherwise found more often, the companies have grown.
3D metal printing services have matured in their offerings, and have started to bring design expertise, produce proof of concept pieces, as well as eliminate the overhead of maintaining one’s own system.
In short, if you were wondering about a time to come when metal 3D printing would excel, it is this.
We’ve included in this list the metal 3D printing services that can help put metal parts in your hands almost as quickly and as cheaply as possible. So, let’s get started.
Based in Sweden, this company is a part of the Höganäs Group. This is the same group that manufactures metal powders. How cool idea have they come up with, yeah?
When the parent company manufactures the raw material, all you need is the device to produce make sure the customer gets served with his or her choice of product.
So, for the latter part, the company has its own binder jetting technology, which they distribute in their own printing machines. So, one thing guaranteed when you buy from this company is that nothing is outsourced.
The complete 3D metal printing service is done in-house. This decreases the chances of any flaws in your part or a functional prototype.
Digital Metal also offers on-demand services and the industries they serve are dental, aerospace, and luxury goods.
Although it is not sure-shot that these are the only industries that they deliver 3D metal printing service to, then too, just to get an idea of their core strength.
Speaking about strength, their technology is adequate in the production of small and complex parts like gears for an engine, or micro-gears for watch mechanisms.
The company serves its customers which are from all over the world from their single production site, which is located in Sweden.
Because the company’s parent company manufactures metal powders, you can get an amazing choice of raw materials with which you can produce, this includes composite mixes of steel and also titanium.
A little downside to them is, they do not provide an online ordering system. Instead, the company follows the more traditional route of allowing customers to contact a salesperson.
If you are a client, you can send a file, and then the company’s engineers will provide feasibility and cost information. That’s how the system works.
GE Additive belongs to the General Electric group. This company specializes in their own metal 3D printing technologies, which they then serve by giving 3D metal printing service to its customers.
Most of these technologies are obtained through mergers and acquisitions, such as with Arcam and Concept Laser.
Both of them did have very successful careers in the market of 3D printing. Apart from just doing sales operations, GE Additive also offers 3D printing services.
Some services that they provide in addition to 3D metal printing services are providing their own materials, as well as their consultancy and training services.
Primary industries that this company focuses on are medical, automotive, military, dental, and aerospace industries. This company too like Digital Metal, does not offer service online.
But what you can find out from their website is that they do offer US customers the complete range of printing services via their Printing Center which is located in Pittsburg.
To their European clients, the company extends a lighter version via its Customer Experience Center which is located in Munich.
The company is yet experimenting and learning how the business works by the companies they have acquired.
Assumptions are that GE Additive will soon make announcements about how they are willing to expand their 3D printing services in the world.
Here is one of the big names in the 3D metal printing service industry. The reason for 3D Systems being famous is partly due to its history for the invention of the SLA 3D printing technology and partly because of the company’s vast coverage and services.
A brief about SLA 3D printing technology
The printing process starts, and the laser “draws” the first layer of the print onto the photosensitive resin which is the raw material, just like we have filament for FDM 3D printing.
The laser used for solidifying the liquid is directed to the appropriate coordinates by a computer-controlled mirror. Unlike FDM 3D printers, most of the desktop SLA printers work upside-down.
This means, the laser is pointed up to the build platform at the start of the 3D printing process and starts low while then keeps on rising incrementally.
After completion of the first layer, the printer platform is raised according to the layer thickness. The next step involves the addition of the resin to flow below the already-printed portion.
This process is repeated until the complete part or functional prototype is completed. During the printing process, if there is a resin that is not touched by the laser and is remaining in the vat, it can be reused.
Continuing about the company
3D Systems have their headquarters in Carolina, USA. Although their claim to cover all major global markets. Their service offering in the field of 3D printing includes hardware and software support apart from the other 3D metal printing services.
Although the company serves many industries, they seem to pay slightly more attention to prototyping or molding.
Speaking specifically about metal 3D printing, one can find metal printing in the rapid prototyping service as well as the low-volume production service.
You can online order via a login which can be done with prior registration. Doing this would enable you to get a quote from the design of the part or functional prototype that you are looking for. The other way to get services is via getting help for designing your desired object.
A Dutch 3D printing platform that offers a large variety of 3D printing services across all the major markets around the globe. Their working model is slightly different than the list of companies mentioned until now.
Till now, none of the companies have a strong database of manufacturing partners as 3D Hubs does. 3D Hubs has managed to connect all those manufacturing partners and bring them on one single platform.
What this enables you to do as 3D Hubs, is to instantly reply to customer’s requirements. Imagine a situation wherein you as a customer put your requirement on 3D Hubs.
From the backend of this website, your requirement gets displayed to all the manufacturers, they can see it and decide whether they will be able to manufacture it.
And if yes, in what time and price. According to that, the reply is given to you. So, the overall chances of certainty is a lot more when you are on this website, versus others.
The company has a strong presence in both the US and Europe, and their quality and selection criteria are such that only professional companies are accepted into the network.
Their 3D metal printing services include 3D printing with all major technologies, like CNC machining, injection molding, and sheet metal fabrication. Specifically for metal printing, they offer a limited service.
The company has a stronghold over direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) with aluminum and stainless steel metal powders.
Having a very straightforward quote platform, 3D Hubs’ service is like One upload an object to be printed, the printability analysis of the design is done on the spot.
And if everything is error-free, the user can select the desired material. After this, the price is displayed in a few seconds, with an estimated delivery time. This company is known to shock customers who have waited a lot for getting quotes before coming to 3D Hubs.
Shapeways is just like 3D Systems and GE Additive, a US-based company that offers 3D metal printing services worldwide. Although it didn’t start in the USA, Shapeways has a history of originating from the Netherlands as a spin-off company from Philips.
They then set up a production site in the US and when everything went well, they moved they’re headquartered there.
Shapeways’ specialty is that they don’t focus on any particular industry. They try to customize more and offer their entire group of services to whoever needs them.
On-demand 3D metal printing service can be ordered through Shapeways’ website. 3D Design is one part of the many services that Shapeways offers.
This also means that the company does have its own 3D designers which are ready to design apart according to your requirement.
Essentially this means that if there is a service that offers you 3D printing based on your 3D design, you can get your 3D design from Shapeways and then get the 3D printing service from that other website, and you are done.
You will get your part or functional prototype within a very fast time and at affordable rates.
As a client, if you are without 3D design experience, you can start making their own designs through their partner called Zverse. As far as 3D printing is concerned, Shapeways offers 3D printing with all major technologies, but specifically for their 3D metal printing service system, they use 3D printers from ExOne.
All of the technical information available online regarding their materials is good along with the design guidelines for the models to be printed. If you go on their website, you will realize that their online ordering system is also friendly and well designed.
You can easily upload a model, which is then analyzed in real-time before presenting before you the options for materials and finishing. The price on Shapeways is calculated based on these selections and the number of pieces ordered.
In this article, we have presented in front of you the five best companies that offer metal 3D printing services. Our titling of the term best is subject to interpretation. Here is More About The Best Metal 3D Printing Services.
The evaluations that we’ve used for titling them as the best five 3D metal printing service providers depends on many factors. The first one of those factors is the Geographic coverage offered by these companies.
Companies with fewer geographical restrictions are a strong plus. The next factor is available materials and technologies, wherein any company that offers more the more available, the better materials as well as technologies gives customers the power to choose what’s best for them.
Another factor is the company’s service portfolio which we have evaluated in terms of the additional services that are offered by them as well as the variety of 3D metal printing services for parts and functional prototypes.
What this essentially manifests into is the ability of that company to serve various different customer groups. Last but not the least, is their speed of response with which they communicate with the customer. Whether it is a simple request for information or an order, this factor matters in both.