3D printing as a business: the most profitable RP-center concepts

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Back in the late 1980s, when additive methods just found their commercial application, there appeared a thing called “rapid prototyping center” (RP-center) – an enterprise, which provides services that involve using 3D equipment. Today, 3D-technologies are a reliable production tool that has proven itself in various industries, and with the development of the 3D-market, such a service is becoming more and more popular. Now, it’s easy for a regular user to obtain a 3D printer without going broke. Some even use this opportunity to start their own business.

Many companies are trying to open their own rapid prototyping centers. RP specialists have a clear and complete understanding of what tasks can be accomplished with the help of 3D printers and 3D scanners in a wide variety of industries.

In this article, we’ll talk about the RP concepts that have the highest potential to expand your business. We will also give specific recommendations to entrepreneurs on the successful development of such a business from scratch.

5 services of rapid prototyping center

A good example of a prototyping center is a large hall, divided into several zones which include 3D printing, post-processing, 3D scanning; it should also have showcases with samples of the center’s works.

Basic RP center services:

  • 3D printing;
  • 3D scanning;
  • 3D modeling;
  • Prototyping;
  • Interactive 3D presentations.

Respectively, the center’s staff should include specialists in each of the 3D printing technologies as well as 3D scanning and 3D modeling.

RP-centers have a lot of expensive equipment to solve a wide range of production tasks. If the customer is planning to buy a 3D printer or 3D scanner, it would be great for them to try it out in a small production site. Of course, the cost of conducting pilot tests is nothing compared with the price of equipment, so this is one of the promising strategies for a profitable business.

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A cost-effective solution: wax 3d printing

Wax 3D printing is a beneficial choice for those who offer prototyping services. Creating wax models on a 3D printer provides foundry operations with undeniable advantages in terms of saving time and cutting costs. This is especially true for jewelry companies, as 3D printers are ideal for creating small highly-detailed products of complex shapes.

Production of wax models by milling is considered the most high-quality, but it’s a very long and expensive process. It can take you four hours to make one wax ring on the milling machine, while a 3D printer will produce a hundred models for the same amount of time.

Resin 3D printers: durability and perfect quality

One of the most promising and common 3D printing materials is resin, from which you can create products with completely different characteristics and mechanical properties. Of all the 3D printing technologies, laser stereolithography (SLA) provides the highest model durability and one of the best accuracy rates. In addition, resin objects have perfect surface quality, and printed prototypes can be used as finished products.

Full-color plaster models

Another popular type of 3D printing is plaster printing. It means printing objects with plaster composites and getting realistic color models with high resolution. Accordingly, the main practical task solved by the use of plaster printing is scale modeling. Such models are mostly ordered by various architectural and construction companies, educational and medical institutions.

Summary: lucrative business ideas

If you have decided to start your own business – take a closer look at resin and plaster 3D printing solutions, as services for the fast creation of models, prototyping, casting from these materials are consistently in demand on the market. For a fast payback, the best decision would be to purchase a wax printer, since it is more profitable for foundries (especially those that deal with jewelry) to order the printing of wax models on the side.

How profitable would be a business based on 3D scanning and 3D printing services?

There is more and more demand on the market, which means that you might be able to manage your business without large investments at the very beginning.