3D Printing FAQspatoseo
In addition to the answers below to the most common 3D printing questions we receive, we also have fantastic page for those who are new to 3D printing called, What Is 3D Printing?
Getting Started/CAD Drawings
In order to quote or make a 3D printed part, you need to have a 3D CAD file drawing created. See what is 3d printing.
We’ve built parts for as low as $3 per piece and up, when building multiples. However, each case is unique and dependent on several factors such as: size, area, volume, material used, time to build, commitment to area taken up, labor and what else we can build with it. Our minimum charge is $100.
We don’t like to ballpark pricing unless it’s coming from an existing customer. A guess can sometimes be made, however, you will need a CAD file to move forward and it’s very likely the cost of hiring someone to do the drawing may very well be more than your prototype. Asking how much something the size of a mug or computer mouse will cost rarely offers any value. Start by looking at the cost to get your CAD drawing first to see if that’s cost prohibitive for you.
Hire a mechanical engineer or mechanical designer as they can create 3D CAD drawings. In addition, their education and experience will be valuable later should you manufacture your parts.
For all the years we have been in business, we’ve yet to receive a CAD file drawn in any free software (or an easy to use program) that could create a usable CAD file that we could quote and build from. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done — we just haven’t seen it yet.
As our focus is exclusively on providing amazing 3D printed parts, we do not offer drafting or drawing services.
STL, .IGES (.IGS) or .STEP (.STP). Ultimately, all 3D printed parts are made from .STL files. However, as saving them properly to ensure you get the best quality part, or in order to avoid large files, we also accept .IGES or .STEP files. If you don’t have files in one of these formats, request it from your designer.
Our 3D Printing Services
Turnaround can be as quick as 24 hours (dependent on several factors). In order to save you money and still provide you with great parts, the average timing is 3-7 business days. We normally have money-saving group builds on Fridays with an approval by noon, allowing us to ship out early the following week. (Some exceptions may apply.)
We favor the SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) process, as the parts offer great quality, functionality and durability. However, we also offer SLA and PolyJet printing services. We were the first 3D printing service bureau in Canada to offer FDM 3D printing technology in 1996, and continued to upgrade with the latest and improved technology. Our years of experience and focus solely on 3D printing is what allows us to provide you with exceptional quality and service.
SLS nylon or rubber-like parts can be used in place of final production parts made from traditional methods. SLA and PolyJet have limitations and should be primarily used for visual applications.
Our facilities and in-house 3D printing equipment are located in New Hamburg, Ontario, (about 1-hour west of Mississauga and 1 hour east of London, Ontario)
It’s pretty rare that our customers actually need to visit our offices as so much can be done over the phone, on-line or with an overnight courier. And, in all honesty, it’s also not as exciting as you’d think as we can’t actually show you the majority of our facilities due to the confidential and sensitive nature of the work we do.
We often recommend a few steps prior to arranging a visit to our offices such as starting with a phone consultation and obtaining a quote for your CAD files.
Absolutely. 100%. We’ve been providing prototypes and parts for new products and projects for over twenty years, so we know how critical confidentiality is to the success of our business and yours. In fact, you will not see any reference to who our existing customers are or projects we are working on in the media or on our website. In fact, even the testimonials on our site do not include full names, company names or addresses.
Yes. We will sign your supplied NDA. We do suggest that we first have a phone conversation, as there are occasions where it isn’t required.
No. In addition to that, you should never use someone else’s NDA for your project. If you’re looking to actually protect your idea with an NDA, then you need one designed specifically for your needs. The strength of an NDA is dependent on the wording. Anything less than that offers little legal protection. If you are working on an idea or invention, we recommend you check out our Inventor’s Action Program that can quickly supply you with everything you need to know about protecting your idea, including a free customizable and digital NDA. Yes and no. The question should be “Do you offer parts that function like ABS?” FDM is the only technology that offers ABS material, however this isn’t the best option if you want it to function like an injection-molded ABS part.
As the first company in Canada to own and operate FDM technology, we found the quality both visually and functionally of ABS parts to be poor in comparison to SLS nylon, so we upgraded.
Here’s the thing, SLS nylon parts, while built in nylon actually represent more accurately an ABS injection molded part than one made in ABS with the FDM process. The reason being is that SLS melts one layer of powder to the next making a solid piece, whereas FDM extrudes the material laying one layer on top of the next. If you were to force break the part, it would likely break on a layer, versus SLS which would break randomly. In addition, the ABS part is also not as flexible as the nylon and does not create proper functioning hinges or springs with sufficient flex.
Still uncertain? Give us a call and we can discuss your requirements further.
What 3D Printing Can and Cannot Do
The short answer is no. The problem mostly lies in how to introduce the foreign part into the machine and then build around it. There’s a host of issues, so it’s best to start thinking of another way. We’ve had multiple engineers make their suggestions and none have ever been viable. Having a better understanding of each 3D printing technology will soon explain why it can’t happen.
Rarely. One process can make multi-coloured parts but they aren’t functional, while others can be post–finished in a variety of ways, adding cost. Creating a finish out of the build that looks like wood grain cherry wood, or a leather texture is not yet attainable.
This depends on your definition of over-sized but it’s important to keep in mind the larger the part, the higher the price. In some cases, CNC machining is a more economical option, especially when you are talking about something like a round bin or something with limited detail. Contact us and we can quickly tell you if your part is a good candidate for 3D printing.
That’s a yes and no answer. Yes, if everything is made out of the same materials, no, if you have a part that needs wires, has a glass window and a metal clip. The technology is limited to the materials each runs and as a result, it’s often only a piece of the final product or prototype. In many cases other pieces or components are incorporated and added to the 3D printed parts.
If you can buy the part somewhere else, you should, regardless of the cost. In addition to the cost of having a 3D CAD file drawing created and the cost of the part, there are many other factors that do not make 3D printing the best option for personal use. In most cases, the part will not aesthetically look like the real-deal, rarely is more economical than the manufactured part and won’t have the same safety and functionality factors taken into consideration.
Replacing a toaster knob will cost too much, might not look right and may not function the same. Automotive companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars designing, testing and manufacturing parts. Should you design and use your own you could be risking your safety.
Yes, but likely not in the way you think! If you already have a CAD drawing, send it to us and we can give you a quote. If you don’t have a CAD drawing, 3D printing is not your next step.
Oftentimes, most inventors think they should look into a prototype (or a patent) for their idea first, which is actually far from where they should start. Since we’ve been helping inventors for over 20 years, we decided to package up all our knowledge, invention information and steps to take so you can quickly and economically get your idea out there.
That really depends on the part, what you will be doing with it and the complexity. Often, simple components can be drawn more quickly and economically than a 3D scan. We do not offer 3D scanning services.