As additive manufacturing (AM) in combination with other 3D technology continues to affect industrial manufacturing and design processes in the global marketplace, an increasing number of companies will be faced with an important investment decision: For 3D printing needs, do we invest the resources to purchase an industrial 3D printer or do we use a 3D printing service bureau?
It's an interesting question. Most companies that use industrial additive manufacturing on a regular basis are still using them mainly to create prototypes. But as the capability of the technology expands, the adoption and regular use of industrial AM will only increase. More companies in more industries will rely on industrial additive manufacturing. As a result, there will be a demand for investing in AM systems for in-house fabrication, which will involve a serious internal analysis of the resources (time, money, training) needed for implementation and integration. As industrial manufacturing continues to supplement and replace traditional manufacturing methods, there will also be a surge of companies sending out industrial-sized orders to 3D printing service bureaus.
There are many service bureaus to choose from, and many of them have grown in reputation as being reliable and honest companies. But we can speculate — with an increasing degree of comfort — that the demand for larger volume and repeat orders of high-end 3D prints is only going to grow from its current rate. Companies will have to be able to depend on a 3D printing service bureau to come through with repeated precision and reliability. It raises an interesting question: Why are there no 3D printing service bureaus that are optimized for speed, precision and reliability for industrial AM applications?
Mitch Free, CEO of CloudDDM, took a look at existing 3D printing service bureaus, liked what they saw, but also recognized that there was room for improvement. Free, along with Rick Smith, David Crowder, and Anthony Graves, went on to co-found and launch CloudDDM (DDM = Direct Digital Manufacturing) to create a new, streamlined 3D printing service that offers customers the ability to order and receive large batches (500-5,000) of prototypes, jigs, fixtures, molds, visual prototypes, functional prototypes and dimensionally accurate end-use 3D printed products faster and with a new degree of autonomy.
How exactly do they do this?
Read more at ENGINEERING.com