Brief recap: Ricoh had been pursuing the market by designing and marketing their own SLS-style 3D printers and associated materials, including ceramic, metal and thermoplastic options. However, last year they switch their approach to a service model, initially only internally.
Now I see they offer services to the public, and have a new instant quoting system. I gave it a try to see more deeply what they are doing.
Ricoh 3D Printing Services
It seems they are offering not only their own SLS equipment, which they no longer sell to the public, but also offer MJF and HSS 3D printing services as well. MJF is the well-known 3D printing process from HP, and HSS is voxeljet’s high speed sintering process. Ricoh says these two are “very similar”, and I suppose they are, in a way.
What’s very curious is that in their promotional video they clear are using a Stratasys 450mc FDM machine, yet this is apparently not a service they’re offering.
To use their service you must first register online, where it insists on your use of a prehistoric password syntax. However, that’s easily handled.
Once inside the system you can simply drag and drop a file, and it is uploaded when you indicate all the files are identified. Note that they can receive files in any of the following formats:
That definitely covers all the major source formats of 3D model files, and includes the most important CAD formats, too.
Ricoh 3D Print Service Process
One limitation I encountered was the maximum input file size, being 50MB. This is certainly more than plenty for typical mechanical parts that would normally be used on the service, but might be too low for some complex 3D models based on 3D scans. If you want to 3D print those with Ricoh’s service, you’ll have to simplify the mesh before uploading. In many cases that would be acceptable, but there could be some complex geometries that might lose some detail in the resulting 3D print.
Ricoh automatically performs a repair operation on any uploaded files to ensure they are actually 3D printable. Like most 3D print services, they are subject to the whims of errant users who might upload anything, and they have to deal with it. The repair also ensures the price is consistent and not accounting for invalid features.
Ricoh provides a very straightforward interface for configuring your 3D print job. It’s simply a set of pushbuttons where you pick from a series of set options. That’s a lot simpler than some other services I’ve seen, but at the same time if your job doesn’t quite fit into their configuration envelope, you may have to turn to other options. They do offer two post processing options, smoothing and dyeing, and you can select both.
Ricoh’s 3D print service does offer discounts for volume purchases.
However, the fact that you can order 10,000 prints suggests that Ricoh is serious about using their service as a means for low-volume production. Some 3D print services would balk at such a large number of units, but evidently Ricoh feels they have the capacity to do so.
At the time of this writing, the Ricoh 3D print service states a lead time of 5 days for their MJF and SLS services, while there is a 6 day lead time for HSS services. You can even obtain a 30% discount, but only if you are requesting 10,000 units.
In addition to the 3D print service, they offer a wide variety of consulting and testing services for manufacturing. It seems they have a very comprehensive offering, well beyond just the 3D print services. You can see a lot more about this in their promotional video:
If you require SLS, MJF or HSS 3D prints, you might check out Ricoh’s service offerings.
Via Ricoh Europe