I can see that it would work very welll for a hobby type of application and also for producing replacement parts, but I wonder how secure it would be if I were to submit a design for a prototype of part for some not-yet-patented invention. There are bound to be a few places that would be very pleased to capitalize on somebody else's invention for their own profit. So probably some sort of nondisclosure agreement would be in order. But it would also be wise to not use any source located in a country with a poor IP security reputation.
On-Line outsourcing for SLAs and other 3D printing services have been available for quite a few years now. Most have an automated website that provides instant quotes, derived from the volume of the part requested, the specific material you select from a list, and the date of delivery you are seeking, considering queue-time and expediting fees. Simply upload the part data file (in .STL format), make the selections, and a real-time quote is available for you to present to your Program Management team (or whichever money guys hold the purse)
A partial list of companies I use regularly ,,,, (free advertising for them !)
6. Quantumleap.cc (note the .CC)
On the subject of Cost – for a single piece-part approximately the size of a thimble, typical cost runs only about $25. For a bigger part, roughly the size of a computer-mouse or digital camera, parts can be made for about $125.
Regarding less-technical users wanting to submit designs in data formats not everyone has access to --- well, I would think the designs would not be very suitable to print or build if they originated in a software that doesn't output an .STL , IGES or .STEP file, (all industry standard file types)
Costs are reasonable, and choices are wide and varied. Personally, I could never afford to own a printer when I have so many competing sources offering various exotic materials and competitive pricing, all professionally sourced.
Hmm. Interesting potential application, Nadine. Yet I wonder what selection of materials would be available in outsourced 3D printing. As for getting it to the masses, there is one industry that doesn't require masses in order to succeed: the military.
I see an issue in that these printers take 3D CAD files which come from programs that not everyone has. I imagine there will be companion businesses cropping up that will convert your 2D drawings to 3D, then coordinate with the printer owners for time. The opportunities are virtually endless.
Wal-Mart will hold its second Made in the USA Open Call July 7-8, at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. The event will be a repeat effort by the world’s biggest seller of consumer goods to increase the amount of US-made products it sells in Wal-Mart stores, in Sam’s Club members-only wholesale outlets, and on walmart.com.
From design feasibility, to development, to production, having the right information to make good decisions can ultimately keep a product from failing validation. The key is highly focused information that doesn’t come from conventional, statistics-based tests but from accelerated stress testing.
There’s a good chance that a few of the things mentioned here won't fully come to fruition in 2015 but rather much later down the line. However, as Malcolm X once said, "The future belongs to those who prepare for it today."
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.