A 3D printing service is a company that will professionally print objects on your behalf. It’s a smart business model that leverages economies of scale; large, industrial 3D printers are used to fabricate hundreds and thousands of small, custom print jobs for individual customers. You can either upload your models, or you can choose from a range of models already available.
What are the benefits of using a 3D printing service, as opposed to owning a 3D printer of your own? Let’s begin with the object. You can send scans, photographs, STL files or even physical items to be fabricated using a 3D printer. You can choose any number of materials and colors for your item, plus typography and size where relevant (e.g. for an engagement ring), so the customization options are endless.
Secondly, there’s the convenience. It’s not just about having your item sent to you in the post, securely tracked and packaged (though that’s nice too). It’s also the fact that you don’t have to worry about the quality control of your objects, as you might with a 3D printer at home. The logistics of printing your order are handled by professionals, to an optimal standard, and typically fulfilled within a reasonable time-frame.
In order to give you an idea of the price range found between B2B and B2C 3D printing services, we have requested two quotes in common configurations from each: 1) SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) in Nylon and 2) FDM (Fused deposition modeling) in PLA. All prices are USD. The model requested was the renowned 3DBenchy. Some professional B2B 3D printing services didn’t reply to our request, as producing starts for them at a different level. We’ve noted this in the description accordingly.
Here are the best 3D printing services listed according to their popularity as documented in their Alexa rank.
Have we missed your favorite 3D printing service? Tell us in the comments, and we’ll add them in a future update.
World’s most popular online 3D printing service Shapeways offers two services. On the consumer side, you can choose from a broad array of professionally designed items, customize them and have them printed to your specifications. Similar to other 3D printing services, Shapeways offers storefronts to designers to sell and print their work. Shapeways is also suitable for rapid prototyping – customers will profit from industrial grade printers (EOS, 3D Systems) and dedicated technical support.
3D Printing Service Website: shapeways.com
Via 3D Hubs´ 3D printing service, you can search for individuals and businesses that offer 3D printing services in your area, upload your STL file for an instant estimate, and connect with them directly to get the job done. The online 3D printing service also allows you to filter by materials, by user rating, by distance, and multiple other factors. Regardless of the type of item you want to have printed, there’s likely someone in your vicinity who can print it for you. A considerable number of materials can be printed in industrial quality, these are marked as »HD« in the search field.
3D Printing Service Website: 3Dhubs.com
Materialise is a company that works with industrial clients to produce prototypes and 3D printed products. But for the general public and individual designers, Materialise offers an online 3D printing service called i.materialise. Like Shapeways, the 3D printing service allows anyone to upload their 3D designs and have them printed out. Once an object has been uploaded and successfully printed, a designer can offer it for sale either via the gallery on the i.materalise online store, or embedded on their website.
3D Printing Service Website: i.materialise.com
One of the leading manufacturers of industrial grade 3D printers, Stratasys is also offering a high-quality 3D printing service. Fittingly, Stratasys sports a dazzling assortment of materials, which are explained at length in the documentation. This online 3D printing service is aimed at professionals in engineering, medicine, and industrial design. Another neat feature of its online quoting page is the ability to create and edit styles (consisting of the printing method, material, finishing and surface treatment) that can be applied to successive projects. Stratasys is also sharing its expertise with companies interested in switching to additive manufacturing.
3D Printing Service Website: stratasysdirect.com
Like Shapeways and i.materialise, Sculpteo is an online 3D printing service that allows anyone to upload 3D models and have them fabricated in a wide variety of materials. In keeping with its competitors, Sculpteo also allows individuals and professionals to open up an online storefront and sell their designs to the public. Sculpteo’s stable of printers includes high-end machines by 3D Systems, EOS, Stratasys, and ZCorp. Its extensive technical documentation will help you detect design flaws and choose the right material for your project.
3D Printing Service Website: Sculpteo.com
With 500 machines placed around the globe, Protolabs services industries worldwide since 1999. This 3D printing service offers the full spectrum of rapid prototyping technologies since you can order parts made with injection molding. Consequently, you can produce high-quality prototypes that have similar properties to the finished products. These parts can be used for promotional photo shootings and be subjected to extensive functional testing. The website of this online 3D printing service features documentation on printing technologies, materials, and a glossary.
3D Printing Service Website: protolabs.co.uk
Ponoko provides an online 3D printing service plus laser etching and engraving too. The company has designers, 3D printers and robots on hand, and pricing starts as low at $5 depending on what needs printing and the materials you choose. Ponoko also offers same-day shipping if you order before a cut-off point. In theory, that means it’s possible to convert your STL or CAD files into actual physical products and have them in your hands within the space of a day. Ponoko’s professional 3D printers are from 3D Systems and ZCorp. Most noteworthy is that Ponoko 3D prints in metal and thermoplastic only – the price for a Benchy in ABS, FDM is $38.78.
3D Printing Service Website: ponoko.com
iMakr is a reseller of 3D printers that operates two stores in London and New York. On its cheerful orange website, the company offers the full range of its expertise: It sells FFM and SLA printers from a multitude of manufacturers, as well as 3D scanners. What really sets iMakr apart from its competitors is its unique 3D printer renting service. If you are new to the world of 3D printing, you can enlist its consulting, training and maintenance services. As a result, the online 3D printing service makes up only a fraction of iMakr’s business. Furthermore, assembly and finishing services are available on request.
3D Printing Service Website: imakr.com
This online 3D printing service has a very clean, no-nonsense website. The convenient instant quotation system does not compel you to register. Similar to 3D Hubs, you can browse for 3D printers in your area or price range, alternatively, the page will simply assign a seasoned maker near you. If you have bought a 3D printer and want your investment to pay off, sign up and start printing orders for 3D printing enthusiasts in your area. Also, MakeXYZ is capable of completing bulk orders within a short timeframe. In case you don’t have a 3D file to print, MakeXYZ will design a 3D printable model for a fee within 48 hours and according to your description.
3D Printing Service Website: makexyz.com
Voodoo Manufacturing is based in Brooklyn and lends its 3D printing service for individual prints as well as for large-scale production. So far their portfolio has included projects such as printing off collectibles for popular TV shows and gear for a high-fashion show. All prints are made using a massive fleet of MakerBots. However, as of April 2017, Voodoo Manufacturing does not ship internationally for orders below $2.500.
3D Printing Service Website: Voodoomfg.com
Trinckle is Meltwerk’s parent company that caters to the needs of engineering professionals. The online 3D printing service offers a marketplace to buy 3D printed goods, tools to check the structural integrity of your model (thereby saving time and money), plus detailed guides on the pros and cons of each material. Also, they accept commissions from small businesses and individuals alike. What sets Trinckle apart from other online 3D printing services, however, are their detailed corporate communications on the environmental impact. The Benchy costs $20.25 as ABS, FDM.
3D Printing Service Website: trinckle.com
Treatstock is another webservice that bundles the forces of 3D printing services all over the globe. Its instant quote system is very well designed for novices as you can choose between major 3D printing applications (prototyping, jewelry and dental), and special materials (multi-color and metal). Each category displays the relevant printing materials in a wide range of colors.
The second hat this online 3D printing service wears is that of a 3D model selling platform. Treatstock invites artists open storefronts and upload their designs so customers can purchase and 3D print them. What is more, Treatstock features a handful of apps on its website that enable the creation of braille labels to make life easier for the visually impaired, and relief 3D images based on photos.
3D Printing Service Website: treatstock.com
OnSite is Materialise’s online 3D printing service for industrial clients with almost thirty years of experience on its back. With one of the largest fleet of 3D printers in Europe, OnSite is an excellent choice to create high-quality rapid prototypes within a short timeframe. Accordingly, you will find a wide range of printing technologies, materials, and finishes at your disposal. Rush services are available for SLA, SLS, and FDM. OnSite grants 10% discount for online orders.
In addition to the online 3D printing service, OnSite offers its expertise in selecting the technologies, materials, and finishes appropriate for the project. Its in-house designers and engineers are also happy to assist you in optimizing your 3D files for 3D printing.
3D Printing Service Website: Materialise OnSite
Star Rapid offers a wide range of prototyping services for professionals and ambitious hobbyists. The website includes detailed information on the available additive manufacturing technologies und finishing services: Besides 3D printing, other techniques offered by this 3D printing service are plastic mold injection, CNC machining, pressure die casting and vacuum casting. So, this company is a candidate in case your needs go beyond mere rapid prototyping and include rapid tooling and low-volume manufacturing. In addition, the case studies are a worthwhile read and demonstrate what this company is capable of achieving.
3D Printing Service Website: star-rapid.com
WhiteClouds is the largest full-color 3D printing service in the world and is highly focussed on B2B. It has various cooperations with retailers and brands to bring personalized action figures to children or medical models to health care professionals. Its high-quality prints are produced in 3D Systems and Stratasys printers. WhiteClouds has set up 3DPedia, a glossary of terms connected to 3D printing. While WhiteClouds has a form to place orders, 3D prints are usually ordered and distributed through its affiliated retailers like Sandboxr.
3D Printing Service Website: whiteclouds.com
Very much in the vein of Kraftwurx, Shapetizer is both an online 3D printing service and retail platform that is based in china. The focus of the featured designers is mostly on jewelry design, but TV and movie collectibles are another foothold of the company. Customers can choose from a mind-boggling array of precious metals to adapt the 3D designs to their taste – and budget. Another feature is truly innovative: Some of the design files on display can be streamed to 3D printers. As a result, you can print the item in the quality and material of your choice, while the 3D artists can protect his intellectual property. Look for the documentation at the bottom of the page.
3D Printing Service Website: shapetizer.com
Aimed at the needs of designers and consumers alike, this online 3D printing service offers a plethora of materials (including precious metals). Also, it lets 3D designers showcase their talent and set up their web stores that build on Kraftwurx’s infrastructure. The industrial printers used by Kraftwurx are from 3D Systems, Stratasys, EOS and others. Kraftwurx’s 3D printing facilities are spread over 125 locations across the globe, cutting delivery times and costs for shipping, freight duties, and tariffs. What is more, Kraftwurx is a strong supporter of social manufacturing: you can post a project that artists and designers can join and collaborate on.
3D Printing Service Website: kraftwurx.com
Australia-based online 3D printing service 3D Print-Au places its 3D printers at the disposal of customers in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, UK, and the US. Although this company also produces FFF printers, you can only order 3D prints made with its SLS machines. Because of its pricing structure (charging for the bounding box rather than the material used) it claims it will beat the competition’s quotes. This 3D printing service also promises to provide superior quality as each and every part is inspected before sending it off to the 3D printer. In addition, 3D Print-Au will accept low volume production orders.
3D Printing Service Website: 3dprint-au.com
For everyone who wants to order 3D printed parts, pure and simple, the online 3D printing service SD3D provides a very convenient instant quoting tool. Parts can be ordered in 4 levels of quality to meet the needs of every stage in the design process. The prints can also be used for casting parts, this can come in handy when you want to produce prototypes on a small scale
In addition, if you are looking for a partner to set up an automated 3D printing solution for your business, take a gander at the site of SD3D. Other services this online 3D printing service offers include, 3D scanning and 3D modeling.
3D Printing Service Website: sd3d.com
3D Systems is one of the original developers of additive manufacturing technologies thirty years ago and today a leading manufacturer of industrial printers. Apart from selling its 3D printers, the company offers its own high-quality online 3D printing service, Quickparts. Here you can take your pick from 3D System’s broad array of printers and materials, enabling its customers to conduct functional tests with rapid prototypes and even small batch production. Extensive technical documentation will help you detect design flaws and choose the right material for your project. Therefore, this online 3D printing service is aimed at professionals in engineering, medicine, and industrial design.
3D Printing Service Website: quickparts.com
Hong Kong-based online 3D printing service HK3DPrint produces mostly prototyping architectural models that it ships worldwide. This 3D printing service also offers low volume production in a quality that is almost on par with the finished product. Also, the website sports a quick instant quote system and helpful documentation on 3D printing technology in general. Special colors and finishing are available on request. Look out for the regular price specials on materials. Especially relevant for customers in the Hong Kong area, HK3DPrint offers a next day service.
3D Printing Service Website: hk3dprint.com.hk
X3D Print has its headquarter in Lyon, France, and 3D prints off SLA machines. Its online 3D printing service is only the last step in the process X3D Print can assist you with. Since the company is also quite experienced in different 3D scanning technologies (triangulation, structured, light, time-of-flight, photogrammetry, and contact) and will apply the appropriate technique to your project. Plus, X3D offers its customers a free STL-repair service! The Benchy costs $18.70 printed as PreciX Pro, SLA.
3D Printing Service Website: x3d-print.com
BuildParts’s website is a rich source of knowledge on printing technologies in general. It also features detailed technical specifications on the printers and materials available. This 3D printing service prints on some 31 machines, in over 50 materials using 5 different processes and offers full finished and polished parts. Most of all, BuildParts is proud to print off your design at the highest resolution settings possible, even if you might get a better price somewhere else – but at the cost of accuracy. In case you don’t have a 3D file yet, BuildParts is happy to create one for you at a fixed hourly rate.
3D Printing Service Website: buildparts.com
Oakland-based online 3D printing service Fathom offers a platform called SmartQuote that caters to the needs of prototyping. The company boasts a wide array of Stratasys printers and sophisticated finishing services, that include color, texture, artwork and assembly. Another feature of its website is the extensive documentation of printing methods and materials. For production purposes, Fathom offers advanced services that extend the range of printing methods (see above). In addition to the online 3D printing service, Fathom is also a reseller for Stratasys printers and lends its expertise in engineering and production to customers.
3D Printing Service Website: studiofathom.com
The philosophy underpinning online 3D printing service MeltWerk is to do one thing and to do one thing well. You can only print your objects in one color and one material, which is laser sintered white polyamide plastic. The upside to this approach is that MeltWerk is offering a best-price guarantee on their products. So, if after placing your order, you can find another 3D printing service that offers a better price for the same object and material, you’ll get a full refund. Those are the kind of consumer-friendly terms we can all get behind.
3D Printing Service Website: meltwerk.com
Incept3D is an online 3D printing service primarily aimed at the needs of engineers and designers. Its web page features some educational material on 3D printing. The models printed by this online 3D printing service are made in professional 3D Systems machines. Most of all, parts made with their Objet printers are particularly suitable for conceptual prototyping. Another specialty service is the production of medical facsimiles based on CT scan data that help medical professionals plan surgeries or study rare medical conditions. Price for Benchy ABS, FDM: covered by $150 order minimum.
3D Printing Service Website: incept3d.com
Polish RapidCrafting offers a wide array of services. Besides its online 3D printing service, it will lend its expertise to adapt your CAD files for 3D printing. Using laser, contact, and photogrammetry technology, the company can produce 3D scans of objects that can be processed further for 3D printing and rendering. Another specialty of RapidCrafting is architectural scale models and illustrations. In addition, RapidCrafting is capable of low volume production. The industrial printers used by this 3D printing service are among others from 3D Systems.
3D Printing Service Website: rapidcrafting.com
This online 3D printing service has its printing centers spread around the globe, and ships worldwide. Its laser sintered parts products are manufactured in EOS machines. The finishing techniques Beta-Prototypes’s in repertoire include painting, lacquering, vibratory grinding, metal plating and impregnation. As a plus, Beta-Prototypes offers its technical expertise to achieve best results. Other items that Beta-Prototypes can produce include frontpanels, laserstencils, and printed circuit boards.
3D Printing Service Website: beta-prototypes.com
3Diligent offers two kinds of online 3D printing services: 3Diligent Direct, which features a custom selection of optimal printing partner by an expert. Confusingly, the second service, 3Diligent Marketplace is also divided into a free and a premium service: FREE: automatic analysis and allocation of printing provider. PREMIUM: access to »outstanding fabricators with professional and industrial equipment«.
When requesting a quote, you state your budget, select the material, the process and other requirements of your project. If you are unsure which material or process is suitable for your design, you can let the vendors decide. 3Diligent will then forward your bids by printing hubs to pick from them. The knowledge center provides concise information on printing methods and materials, as well as series of videos that explain the order process.
3D Printing Service Website: 3diligent.com
Hailing from Eden Prairie, 3D Printing Ally prides itself to operate at the place where additive manufacturing was pioneered in the 1980’s. And indeed, they 3D print off their FDM prints on Stratasys machines, while 3D Systems machines are used for the other technologies that cover the major techniques used in additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping. Its founder is an aerospace manufacturing professional and as a result has a firm grasp of the art. The 3D printing service website boasts a very convenient instant quoting system and useful information on the available printing technologies and materials.
3D Printing Service Website: V3dprintingally.com
The online 3D printing service PartSnap takes pride in being the only registered professional engineering firm and that also offers in-house 3D printing services in North Texas. Furthermore, its online 3D printing service is only part of this company’s business: PartSnap can engineer, develop and prototype parts under one roof, thereby saving money for customers. Other prototyping technologies include injection molding which can produce parts that have virtually the same properties as the finished product. Also, PartSnap is a reseller for filaments.
3D Printing Service Website: partsnap.com
Iannone 3D is US-based 3D printing service that ships worldwide. It aspires to offer 3D prints at a competitive price. The prints are made on Stratasys Fortus printers. Besides 3D printing, Iannone 3D also provides 3D design services. Using a unique welding process this company promises to produce parts that exceed the build volume of their already large 3D printers (914 ✕ 610 ✕ 914 mm). Finally, the range of Iannone 3D’s services extends to assembly and finalization of 3D printed parts. Cost of Benchy $15.60 (ABS, FDM).
3D Printing Service Website: iannone3d.com
Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Rapid3DParts is the country’s self-proclaimed “leading 3D printing service bureau”. This 3D printing service prints off its parts on 3D Systems machines. The other kind you can order from Rapid3DParts are lasercuts. But this online 3D printing service also covers 3D scanning offering its customers a variety of technologies: laser, structured light, and CT.
3D Printing Service Website: rapid3dparts.co.za
UK-based Rapid3D is an SLA-only online 3D printing service. Your parts are printed off on professional 3D Systems machines. But Rapid3D can help you with more than 3D printing. The other technology offered is vacuum casting, a popular approach to rapid prototyping that is capable of replicating the characteristics of a broad array of industrial material properties. In addition, this company is also an expert in 3D scanning. The Benchy costs $73.00 (Resin, SLA).
3D Printing Service Website: rapid3d.co.uk
When you upload your 3D file to a 3D printing service, you will get a quote – either instantly or by email. However, not all these service are transparent as to how 3D printing service prices are calculated.
Below, we have compiled a list of the most important factors that determine how 3D printing service prices are calculated. Some of them are obvious to anyone who as a 3D printer at home. Others are determined by the ways commercial providers operate.
To learn more about cutting 3D printing costs, read our article:
It is clear to anyone that the same item will be priced vastly differently if it’s printed in PLA or silver. Ideally, 3D printing services publish a list that reveals much a certain amount of the available materials costs. The material cost is calculated by multiplying it with the volume of the 3D file.
But other factors must be considered to understand how 3D printing service prices are calculated. For one, usually, parts are not printed as solid pieces. Instead, in FDM parts a certain amount of infill is used to balance strength with cost.
What is more, many 3D files with overhanging parts require support structures in order to be printable at all. The material spent on these supports must also be factored in to calculate 3D printing service prices.
Although 3D printing services are highly automated and use sophisticated software to facilitate every stage of production, there is still a lot of manual labor involved. For instance, after printing, the parts are cleaned, sorted and packaged. The cost of these labors is included in the “service fee” that is charged per item or order.
Yet another factor that must be considered to understand how 3D printing service prices are calculated is finishing. Dyeing, polishing is post-processes that help to get the most out of your 3D prints. However, since they are often done manually, they will increase the final cost.
What 3D printing services also include in their calculations of 3D printing service prices are costs involved with maintenance. This includes initial printer investment, electricity, depreciation, and failed prints. These costs are also included in the “service fee” that is charged per item or order. Another way that 3D printing services cover these costs is charging a minimum price in case an order is below a certain value.
When setting up an order, you can sometimes tweak the printing speed by adjusting the layer height. Parts with bigger layer-heights will cost the printing service less time, and you can save a lot of money. So, by tweaking the resolution of your part, you can determine how 3D printing service prices are calculated.
The same applies to the amount of infill. Printing solid parts does not only increase the material cost, but also the time needed for printing.
In processes like SLS, the biggest driver of 3D printing cost is neither material nor labor, but machine space. 3D printing services stack models from various order together to print as many parts as possible in one build. Hollow parts can sometimes accommodate smaller parts. This process makes 3D printing more cost-effective for the 3D printing services. In turn, they pass on a part of the money they saved. So, the shape of your 3D file can directly influence how 3D printing service prices are calculated.
Of course it takes someone to deliver the finished piece to you. Companies like Shapeways, Sculpteo, and i.materialise are usually working with local subcontractors. The 3D printing file gets transferred to them; the file is then 3D printed and after successful completion – gets shipped.
It makes sense to take a look at shipping costs, as they can differ – some 3D printing services charge up to 100 percent more than others for handling and shipping.
To soften the blow dealt by costs some 3D printing services offer discounts. For instance, if you order multiple prints of the same part the price may decrease. Other services give discounts for students or offer loyalty programs. Look out for these discount to influence how 3D printing service prices are calculated.
License: The text of "3D Printing Service – 34 Best 3D Printing Services in 2018" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.