How A Typical 3D Printing Service Usually Lasts
3D printing can be an incredibly fun and fulfilling activity. The ability to get an object of your own customized shape and design on demand is incredible.
But do you really need to buy a 3D printer of your own?
There are plenty of 3D printing services out there that offer you the opportunity to get anything printed for a certain fee. While you lose out on the freedom and control of 3D printing yourself, you are saved from having to buy a 3D printer and learning to operate it.
Although, considering the low prices of 3D printers nowadays and the number of free 3D printing courses available online, is it really worth using a 3D printing service?
Pros and Cons of 3D Printing Services
A 3D printing service is simply an arrangement where a third-party provider prints your 3D parts for you for an additional cost. The provider can just be another 3D printing hobbyist at home, or it might be a commercial service run by a company owning dozens of industrial printers.
Both have their strengths and weaknesses.
A home-based service will typically charge less but will lack the better printers or materials available to a business. On the flip side, a professional 3D printing service will have better performance, even if it comes at a steeper price.
Now, the pros and cons of using a 3D printing service are clear enough:
- No need to buy a 3D printer
- You don’t have to go through the hassle of printing anything yourself
- Printing materials are not necessary
- Can prove expensive in the long run
- You lose control over the printing process
- Cannot print that frequently
- Takes considerable time to a print in hand
So is it ever worth using a 3D printing service?
Situationally. If a project you are working on just needs a part or two to be printed according to your custom specifications, giving the order to a printing service is the sensible option.
Similarly, you can use a low-cost 3D printer to prototype your designs, but use a professional 3D printing service to get some key parts in a larger size. 3D printing services are also a great way to acquire 3D printed parts in materials that your printer cannot handle.
But in almost every other scenario, you are better off buying your own 3D printer and learning how to use it.
The Advantages of having a 3D Printer
Now let us take a look at what advantages having your own 3D printer brings you.
Any printing service you turn to will typically have a long line of printing requests already waiting in the queue. Add in the time required to ship the finished product to you, and you get a timeframe ranging from a couple of days to even a week.
Compare that to printing it by yourself, where even the slowest print speed will get you your print in a few hours. This allows you to go from concept to print quickly, enabling fast prototyping of ideas.
Saves money? Don’t you have to buy a 3D printer?
The thing is, 3D printers aren’t particularly expensive today. You can get an entry-level model for as little as $200 and start churning out prints right away.
A printing service, on the other hand, only gets more expensive the more you rely on it. Sure, the extra ten-twenty bucks do not hurt you much when you just want a couple of prints, but as soon as you start using the service regularly, the costs start piling up.
If you intend to use a 3D printer fairly regularly, it might be a better idea to have a printer at hand.
There are many reasons why you might need a 3D printed part. Maybe you are a teacher who wants to create visual learning aids for students. Perhaps you are a 3D modeler who wants their creations to be brought to life.
Or you just want to print for fun. Whatever your intentions behind getting into 3D printing are, you probably want to able to print frequently.
Having your 3D printing ability locked behind a week-long order from a 3D printing service is hardly conducive to creativity. What you need is a 3D printer of your own to print what you want, whenever you want.
Customize Print Settings
Two people printing the same model on the same brand of 3D printer would likely get very different results. This is because the printing process you follow has a direct bearing on how the print turns out.
For example, setting the print speed too high does not give the molten filament enough time to cool down properly, leading to details and layers getting blurred into one another. A third-party printing service might speed up the process to save time, ruining a print you had high expectations of.
The slicing process itself has much room for customization. Things like the infill settings or the thickness of the walls decide how strong your print turns out to be. Leaving these crucial details in the hands of a 3D printing service reduces the quality of the end product.
To Sum Up
3D printing services are a good way to get an idea of what is possible with 3D printing without making too much of an investment. A printing service can also help you out if just need a 3D part or two and are not really interested in delving too deep into 3D printing itself.
But if you intend to print more than a handful of items, buying a 3D printer might be the most cost-effective path for you.
Having your own 3D printer goes beyond just saving money. Being able to print anything, anytime is a great boost to any creative pursuit, be it a Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast or a hobbyist with a penchant for making science models.
And most importantly, 3D printers have never been more affordable or easier to use. You can get started with your own 3D printer in no time at all.