3D Printing

Thinking seriously about bringing an RP system in house.

Any suggestions???

Find some resellers of these systems in your area and get a demo and prices. They seem to be the most viable of the “inexpensive” RP systems in my experience.


I tend towards the Stratasys FDM machine, but it really depends on what you need it for.

After demos on Stratasys, Zcorp and 3D Systems Invision (MJM), we bought the Envisiontec Perfactory Zoom from Germany. The other systems did not provide the resolution for my product category (very fine details >1mm cosmetic bosses). We could not be happier.

Actually, we could be happier - the cleanup is messier than say, Stratasys, but there is no comparison to the quality of the part. Cost might be an issue though - Perfactory is twice the price of Stratasys to buy, but the material price is a bit less.

have to agree with Stratasys comments - but its suitability depends upon your final applications - for small components forget about this system - small components look like they’ve been knitted…

But if you are modelling larger (say at least 120mm) size products without subtle details then this system produces quick models and is very easy to use.

Completely agree here. And, if you are just using the RP for in-house sketching, and will be sending out final surface models for SLAs or CNC milled prototypes, it’s fine. Just don’t think you are going to sand or file down a Stratasys model for final presentation - they are usually left unfinshed and tossed aside after you study your sketch forms in 3d.

We had some prototypes done on a Z-printer a while back and I’d say they are quite rough. The surface texture is equivalent to about 120 grit sandpaper. Good enough for larger objects but not for the our stuff with typical features <0.5mm.


Thanks for all the advice. I have contacted the resellers for the Z-corp, Dimension (Stratasys 3D Printer), and Invision. Waiting to get samples from them.

I also found this which seems to support what most were saying earlier.


Looks like it came down in price too. Glad I waited till '06.

I saw the Z corp 3d printer today at The National Design show in Chicago

Most prototype items seem to be (±.003)

Does anyone sell a machine that is better tolerance than this? Not like I need Lawrence Livermoore nanotechnology, but at what price can I get to repeatable tenths (±.0005) lets say? is it a Pipe dream?

Objet has one of the best technology out there at the moment. The systems are still pricy but the outputs are good in terms of quality, choice of materials, etc. (http://www.2objet.com).

The latest edition of Time Compression magazine (a magazine about RP from the UK) has a complete directory listing of RP related technology, firms, etc. The magazine can be found online at http://www.time-compression.com

Thanks for the link, dacct. I’m planning on modeling something this weekend and using it as a reference object for some cost comparisons. Hopefully the time-compression site will help me find service bureaus.

While the Z printers are “rated” for +/-0.003", the rough texture on them must be closer to 0.005"… why I’ve stopped using the service that provided models made on them.


the great thing about forums is to see exact experiences. Today I picked up an ABS part that was able to take special electroplating.

Many times we need to have a part “under” dimention before final plating is added.

I seem to think a rather entraprenurial person may take a different approach. Pay piece part pricing for singles even if high is better than no option.

pay higher for better tolerance is better than nothing at all.

of coarse, people reading may ask why not just pay for an exact item, but that is the tipping point that i am trying to reach with prototype at my tolerance.

Sorry to ruffle.

My work often involves parts that are less than a cubic inch with features as small as 0.007" undercut so nothing really comes close with RP. But the refinement of parts in DSM Somos is significantly better than what comes out of a Zcorp machine, hence my cautions about their printer.


Does anyone have any experience with metal laser melting (not sintering)? Any info on parts? price/part? etc.

Since I started this string, I felt like I needed to update everyone on my decision…

I ended up purchasing the Dimension 3D Printer from Stratasys. I have to say that so far, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

When initiially evaluating the reality of bringing a rapid prototyping machine in-house, I thought it would be something that could significantly help in speeding up and improving my designs, but I have found it much more benificial.

I used to outsource all my prototypes at places like Quick Parts, then I passed the cost along to the client. Now, I make the prototypes here at my office for a very small fraction of what I was paying at Quick Parts and I then I charge my clients for these parts.

This sounds like a no-brainer, right? But like everyone else, I thought I would barely make enough on the prototypes to pay for the monthlies ($650), but I actually made more than $12,000 in the past two months just from the providing these prototypes. IT HAS BASICALLY BEEN FREE MONEY.