Recently we had the privilege of visiting Stratasys' Minneapolis-based 3D print service: RedEye On Demand. Wait, we shouldn't call it a "3D Printing Service" anymore. This facility performs much more than just 3D printing, although that forms a large portion of their work. In addition to Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), they offer cast urethane and polyjet services. Once a part is manufactured, they also offer a variety of finishing services including improvements to look and finish, painting and plating.
These manufacturing services were added as a result of direct customer demand, and one would suspect they may add additional manufacturing services. The result is that RedEye is really a "Digital Manufacturing" facility and not just a "3D Printing Service". It's not merely making prototypes; it's actual low-volume digital manufacturing of finished products. This fits a "sweet spot" for customers whose requirements are insufficient to warrant the costs of full-on mass manufacturing setup but need more than just a prototype.
And it's big. RedEye operates 85 large-format FDM machines at the Minneapolis site (some of which are seen above). In total they have 125 FDM machines if you include their multiple international partner manufacturing sites in Belgium, Turkey and Australia. These distant sites can operate as a single unit, with the ability to send work where ever machines are available to balance capacity.
Will it get bigger? No doubt. RedEye's Business Development Manager, Jeff Hanson (left) believes their approach will do a lot to bring manufacturing back from offshore locations. We observed rooms full of very busy manufacturing machines making all manner of items. With demand increasing for innovative and highly personalized products, we suspect there may be quite a few facilities like this appearing across the land in the future.