Having seen the benefits of 3D printing in house – and the types of machines available – let’s now consider the alternative. The bureau.

3D printing bureaus allow you to design a product in house, then outsource the actual production of it.

Here are four reasons why using a bureau may make commercial sense for you.

1 Cost

In part 1 of this series, the case for 3D printing in house we showed an illustration of typical costs for printing a five cubic inch product. We saw how printing more than one such product – or equivalent – once a month on average makes printing in house the cheaper option. It follows then, that if your 3D printing requirements are less frequent than this, using a bureau would be the more cost-effective option.

2 Options

There’s more than one type of 3D printing. What type you’ll need will depend on the product you’re designing. Industrial components operating in demanding environments, for example, will need to be more robust than day-to-day household items or fashion accessories. Using a bureau means you don’t have to commit to one type of 3D printing – you choose the right option for each job.

3 Fixing the design

We all make mistakes – especially when using new and complex equipment. If you’re not confident with 3D printing technology or product design is not your core skill, you may find the prospect of 3D printing in house daunting. Staff at a bureau can fix any errors that may prevent your design being printed properly. They may charge for this service.

4 Post processing

A big problem with some types of 3D printing, especially SLS (selective laser sintering) is the post processing involved. This can get messy, so it’s not ideal if you welcome customers to your workplace or wear smart clothes to work. However, when you use a bureau, none of this is your problem.