1st November 2023, London, U.K.) In the rapidly evolving world of 3D printing / additive manufacturing (AM), the burgeoning number of production bureaux that have begun to proliferate today offers a vast spectrum of options for consumers.
The surge in 3D printing bureaux asserting their readiness for production applications can be attributed to the industry’s evolving dynamics. As AM technology has matured, it has moved beyond its traditional niche of prototyping and into the realm of full-scale production. This transition is fuelled by advancements in machine capabilities, material properties, and cost efficiencies, making it viable for producing end-use parts. Recognizing this shift and the potential economic advantages, many bureaux are keen to position themselves at the forefront of this transformation, capturing the growing demand from industries seeking agile, customisable, and efficient production solutions.
But how do you tell the good from the bad?
Leading UK 3D printing service provider, 3DPRINTUK, maintains that a distinction emerges when one sifts through the sea of providers, and for customers seeking those that truly stand out in delivering production parts of impeccable quality care needs to be taken in supplier selection.
Nick Allen, CEO at 3DPRINTUK says, “The capability to handle higher volumes of parts for production is an unmistakable trait of top-tier AM bureaux. Rather than merely having a multitude of machines, these bureaux prioritize both quantity and quality. It’s about harnessing the power of advanced machinery and technologies to undertake large-scale projects, ensuring precision and speed are never compromised. Thus, they can weave seamlessly between intricate custom jobs, batch production and extended production runs. However, no matter how advanced a machine is, the wisdom of experience remains irreplaceable. The most revered AM bureaux wear their years of experience like a badge of honour. With each project, they accumulate insights into materials, processes, and potential challenges. This repository of knowledge doesn’t just aid in flawless execution but also enables them to pre-empt challenges, offering proactive solutions. Moreover, their long-standing presence often means they have robust partnerships with material suppliers and other industry stakeholders, an element that subtly but significantly influences the end products quality.”
Beyond the tangible, 3DPRINTUK also maintains that the very soul of a bureau, its core values, play a pivotal role. Best in class AM bureaux radiate values like passion, dedication, and innovation. There’s a palpable zest within their teams, a fervour about realizing the untapped potentials of 3D printing. This often infectious enthusiasm cascades into an unmatched customer service experience, stemming from a genuine commitment to a project’s success.
Allen continues, “However, passion without knowledge can be directionless. That’s why the best AM bureaux like 3DPRINTUK are also hubs of technical expertise. Their teams are not just well-versed with current AM technologies, but are continually updating their knowledge reservoir. From understanding the nuances of material science to mastering post-processing techniques and quality assurance protocols, their expertise is comprehensive and current. An often-underestimated factor that separates the leaders from the crowd is an unwavering emphasis on quality control. For leading bureaux like us, quality isn’t a final checkpoint but a journey that begins right from the initial design assessment and meanders through post-production inspections.”
A holistic approach to AM for production ensures that every phase, from initial design consultation to final post-processing, is optimized for efficiency, quality, and cost-effectiveness. True vertical integration in this context means that an AM provider manages and controls each step of the production process in-house, offering customers the benefits of seamless communication, reduced lead times, consistent quality, and a streamlined experience, eliminating the complexities and inconsistencies that might arise when coordinating with multiple vendors.
Allen concludes, “We maintain that while the landscape of AM production bureaux may seem vast, discerning eyes will recognize that merely professing to be production-focused doesn’t equate to excellence. It’s the harmonious blend of scale, experience, core values, and unwavering commitment to quality and innovation that truly sets the best apart. Our company mission moving towards 2024 is to refresh and change the language that surrounds the use of 3D printing bureaux for production, and to ensure that as a leading bureau we always differentiate itself from less compelling alternatives and draw attention to the capabilities and values that we have that cannot be replicated. We believe in the disruptive power of AM and want ensure that customers avoid disappointment.”