Should You Outsource 3D Printing – Or Buy 3D Printing Equipment?

3D printing is an invaluable, game-changing process that is revolutionizing the way businesses conceptualize, design, prototype, and produce products. Virtually any industry can be impacted in some way by 3D printing, and it is by far one of the most dynamic technological advances of the past 50 years.

But should you take advantage of 3D printing yourself by developing in-house capabilities? Or, should you outsource 3D printing?

It’s tempting to want to outsource everything – there are few things in this business world of ours that aren’t outsourced, plus there are real benefits to outsourcing – but there are also real, solid benefits to owning your own 3D printing equipment.

Here are four major advantages for your business generated by owning in-house 3D printing equipment.

(Not ready to buy? We offer a “print before you purchase” option that lets us print your objects for you!)

#1: Lower Overall Costs

When you outsource, you have to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) over the duration of your project. You save money by not having to invest in 3D printing equipment, true, but you’ll spend hundreds to thousands of dollars for every prototype you outsource.

Plus, you’ll save through decreased time to market, not having to wait for your prototypes to return, and having fewer errors thanks to being able to print many prototypes instead of just one.

You can save on TCO by having in-house 3D printing capability even if you print only two models per month on average. One Stratasys customer estimates they reduced costs by 73 percent by forgoing outsourcing and prototyping themselves.

#2: Faster Time to Market

One advantage of having a 3D printing capability is your total time to market is decreased.

Turnaround time for outsourced prototypes can take much longer than the few days that are often quoted. Plus, there are often additional delays when it comes to design, thanks to the high cost of outsourcing. These delays can be many times more than the turnaround time. These delays may also be repeated several times before production actually begins on your prototype.

With in-house capabilities, you can produce as many prototypes as you want in hours, not days or weeks. There are no delays because there’s no need to communicate with an outsourced partner. You can prototype only when you’re ready and make changes on the fly as needed.

And, if you’re adjusting to a quickly-moving market, your development time decreases because you’re not having to wait on someone else.

#3: You Can Create More Prototypes

Another advantage of having in-house 3D printing equipment is frequent prototyping – i.e. the ability to create multiple prototypes.

Frequent prototyping allows you to design as you go, to rectify errors, make innovations, and tweak designs. You don’t have to “get it right” for one shot at an expensive outsourced prototype; you can instead prototype as often as needed so you get the best model through repeated experimentation.

This is especially true if you need to visualize designs with 3D models. Every change to your design will often mean a new 3D model. With outsourcing, you’re waiting – and paying – for each iteration. With in-house printers, you’re making them as needed, so you don’t get slowed down.

#4: Fewer Errors

Finally, a benefit of being able to do it yourself is that you generally encounter fewer manufacturer errors.

When you prototype yourself, you can fine-tune your design before molds and die casts are made. You can significantly reduce the potential for manufacturer error through multiple iterations of your prototype. Your models will be more accurate, too. As you can imagine, fewer errors contributes to faster time on market and lower TCO as well as lower overall costs.

Buy 3D Printing Equipment for Your Business

There are times in which you’ll want to outsource prototyping. For example, if you want to see if 3D printing is for you, it makes sense to prototype before you buy. An outsourcing partner is invaluable in that circumstance.

But if you plan on prototyping often and incorporating 3D printing into your production process, it makes sense to buy 3D printing equipment for your business.

Not Ready to Buy?

If you aren’t quite ready to buy, though, it’s okay – you can still outsource. In fact, you should definitely “try before you buy” through our program that allows you to print before you purchase. This way, you can see what capabilities 3D printing can bring to your organization without having to invest in equipment that you may not need.

If you need help with 3D printing, and want to try the process before you buy equipment, contact us – we’d be more than happy to help. Our in-house capabilities and connections allow us to accomplish most any 3D printing task that you may need.

Contact Prototyping Solutions for more information on the hottest 3D printing equipment on the market –and create new, exciting possibilities for your organization.