3D printing services were initially developed with rapid prototyping in mind and it has been rapid prototyping companies who have either taken advantage of the technology or lived in fear of the technology depending on whether it is something they now offer.
Those rapid prototyping companies that haven’t developed 3D printing services within what they do though are now seeing more and more of their market share taken away. As 3D printing has developed the uses have expanded beyond rapid prototyping but at the same time the flexibility of 3D printing and the cost effectiveness have increased. This means that 3D printing services for rapid prototyping are now practical for the smallest businesses rather than just the major worldwide players: who create prototypes that they knew would sell thousands if not millions of units. Now though a rapid prototype is cheap enough that it can be used for short runs of a dozen or less or even used to create scale models of one off items. What the item is isn’t limited many more either and rapid prototyping 3D printing services are now even being used to create models of houses based on digital blueprints.
In the past building a scale replica of a building would be expensive and would only be common for the largest buildings and public building projects. The process was painstaking and the finished result would often be flimsy and the accuracy would be limited. Using a 3D printing service architects now can have a model printed in one go and in full color based on the actual digital plans for the building meaning that accuracy will be perfect and the model made to a high quality.
For inventors on a budget 3D printing services for rapid prototyping are a great way for them to get a well made and accurate demo model of their product for far less than they would have had to spend in the past. 3D printing services can even print hollow items and can make a prototype that will look, feel and also have the weight that the final item will. This is great for showing to potential buyers or licensees and is also great for doing market research with consumers to get their reaction to a product. What is more the 3D files can then easily be adapted based on feedback and then another prototype printed.
A 3D printer should in fact perhaps be called a 3D builder, they work using additive manufacturing that builds an item up a small layer at the time. Better printers may use thinner layers for a more exact finished product and different printer designs build up in different ways.
This includes 3D printers that use small dots of plastic, uses lasers to harden resin in a tank and use powder and binder in a 3D printing service that is more like an inkjet. What this powder method means though is that items can be printed in full color, this is ideal for models and prototypes to give people the full picture of how something will look and to try different colors to get the best result.