How to choose the right partner for the production of 3D prototypes?

There are quite a number of companies on the market that offer 3D printing services. So, how do you choose the right one? Which company will meet and understand your needs, know how to give you the right advice, and guide you in choosing the most suitable technology and materials for the production of your prototype?

 

You are interested in the criteria that will allow you to make a decision to choose the right partner for your 3D project or the production of your prototype. Please answer the following questions below.

1. Does the company have a sufficiently wide range of materials, and does it use a wide range of 3D technologies, as well as being able to print small series?

Every 3D print has its own characteristics. A wide range of 3D technologies and a wide range of materials allow you to get your hands on a printed product that truly suits your needs.

Before choosing a partner for your 3D printing needs, you should first know what kind of product you need: a prototype, a one-off product, or a small series of products. The choice of technology and materials will depend on this.

We at Chemets print using a variety of technologies: Multijet Fusion, SLA, Polyjet, SLS, HSS, and Voxeljet. Depending on what kind of project you have, we advise you on what kind of prototyping is possible and help you with its development. We can print just one piece or a small series.

2. Do the experts at the prototype center know how to advise you? Are they able to provide you with comprehensive support?

In choosing the technology and materials, the prototype centre should help and advise you. The choice of technology depends on a number of factors: the kind of material you want the part made from, the kind of surface you want to have, the method of production, when you need the product, and the number of products needed. Each technology has its advantages; it all depends on the purpose and when you need the products.

We at Chemets have the knowledge and experience to advise you, to help you, and together with you to find the most optimal solution for the production of your product. We also provide you with advice upon entering your new product onto the marketplace.

We start by having an in-depth conversation and provide advice already at the first meeting or review of your files. We also provide you with details in relation to the different options available for production. However, the collaboration we share can start even earlier; at the stage when you have an idea but no sketch and are looking for the most suitable technology.

We provide you with a comprehensive approach to the development of your business and new product. We also support you in the production of your prototype with our acquired knowledge: project management, suggestions for putting a team together, discovering the identity of your new product, and creating a financial, sales, and marketing plan.

3. What about the possibility of producing coloured parts?

Do you need a colour prototype of a product? 3D technologies allow for colour prints. And, there is always the option of post-production colour finishing. If the client requires a very specific colour, in most cases the product will have to be painted, post-production. In the case of 3D printing, three technologies exist that can also be used to print colour parts. The choice of technology depends on the intended use of the product (eg: whether it is intended as a visual or functional representation of the prototype).

It is also possible to produce a prototype by way of vacuum casting, where the technical properties, appearance, and colour approach those of injection moulded pieces. We are the only prototype service centre in Slovenia providing vacuum casting services.

We, at Chemets, were the first prototype service centre in the former Yugoslavia, enabling the production of a single coloured part or a small series of products with the most modern technologies. We are able to print just one piece or a whole series of pieces with or without a logo, text, or a traceable code.

4. What kinds of options are available for post-processing parts?

First and foremost, the 3D print must be, in all cases, free of defects. In order for your product to be well made, it needs a superior post-processing finish, regardless of the material or technology from which it is made.

Post-processing is very important. This is something that not all producers of prototypes are masters at, simply because it is necessary to have a solid knowledge of materials as well as knowing the manner in which products are produced. Post-processing includes painting, sandblasting, polishing, electroplating, puttying, … With post-processing, we can achieve smooth or rough surface finishes, as well as gloss, mat, or transparent finishes, not to mention a look of the original (the appearance of metal, wood or leather) and much more.

We at Chemets adhere to the principle of “Impossible is Possible”. That is why we always look for a way to produce your product in accordance with your wishes.

 

5. Does the company offer 3D design or modelling assistance?

A good prototype service centre is one that includes 3D modelling.

Quality prototyping centres must first review a client’s files and warn them of any errors in the file. That means that they check the quality of the received file. The most common mistake is that the part has ‘open surfaces’. Often, it is also because the person who constructs the part doesn’t have the required knowledge; for example, they draw oversized walls.

We, at Chemets, offer 3D rendering support as well as topology. Our experienced designer is able to take care of transferring your 2D drawing into a 3D model. We also take a careful look at your 3D models and check their suitability, correct any gaps, and optimise them so that there are no unnecessary complications in the printing process with regard to their suitability or the incurrence of any additional or consequent costs.

In cases where the customer does not have a 3D file but has the original piece (eg: a spare part that can no longer be purchased) we are able to create a 3D file by way of reverse engineering. This is a process whereby an actual model (product, prototype, tool…) that you want to reproduce, restore or improve is scanned.

6. Do the quality, price, and responsiveness meet your expectations and your planned budget?

Prototype service centre prices are an important criterion when choosing a prototype center. The triangle of quality, price, and speed of production also applies to prototype centres. The only limit is in the speed of production, as some technologies require a more flexible production time.

Without a file, the prototype centre cannot set the price for the product. Prices are set for each product and project separately. In determining the price, the key is to very carefully define the technical properties of the material, the desired number of pieces, the complexity of the piece, the suitability of the file that is the basis for production, the required surface finish, and the required production time.

We, at Chemets, strive to prepare the most accurate price calculation for you. If we find that 3D prototyping is not suitable or would be too expensive, we let you know and suggest more optimal ways of production. We advise our clients not to look for the cheapest price per piece, but the most economical end price for testing the piece, small batches, and speed of production. We operate transparently, as only in this way can companies build long-term partnerships. We are also reliable, quick to respond and we deliver the ordered goods within the agreed time.

7. How experienced is the company and what kind of reputation does it have?

Experienced and reputable companies can offer you the best services. Check the areas in which they operate and the industries in which they are strong.

We, at Chemets, operate in the automotive, motorcycle, and nautical industries, as well as in medicine, film and art, architecture, and construction. Regardless of the industry, we help you develop and produce a product in accordance with your demands.

At Chemets:

  • we are always looking for and monitoring solutions and technical innovations to make 3D printing and prototyping even better;
  • we are well equipped to manage the challenges of innovation;
  • we also produce final functional and one-off products (such as eg: vintage car parts, awards for special achievements, replicas, or sculptures);
  • we offer support in designing and redesigning products;
  • we support innovators with advice and knowledge already at the early stage of product development;
  • we guarantee quality;
  • we stick to agreed deadlines and carry out what is promised;
  • we offer strategic partnerships.

I wish you great choice of prototyping and 3D printing partner.

Barbara H. Wilkesmann

 

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