How to make the right decision when purchasing a 3D Printer: Benchmarking – try before you buy!

Article by Luis Doval updated June 26, 2012

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The best way to determine if a 3D printer or 3D printing technology is the right fit for your business is to obtain a sample of one of your parts. This is the ultimate test in the purchase process as having a sample part in your hands will confirm (or deny) the benefits and features presented by a vendor.

Benchmark test of a printed part for a cordless drill

Benchmark test of a printed body part for a cordless drill

As a sample part is intended to satisfy your requirements, make sure that the benchmark is driven by you. Obtaining a demo part from a vendor will demonstrate how a printer can build someone else’s part, but you need to know how it will build YOUR part!

Your benchmarking process should be:

  1. Give the vendor one of your CAD models that has the typical shape, size, and features of your products.
  2. Make sure that the part is printed by the same machine that you are thinking of purchasing.
  3. Request all the necessary information pertaining to the printing process e.g. material[s] used, time spent printing, machine setup, etc. So that you will have real data for costing purposes.
  4. Review the printed part based on your evaluation criteria e.g. the part functionality, material feel, durability etc.
  5. If you are evaluating more than one vendor or technology then take your time to compare the same part built from a different printer.

A 3D printer is an important capital investment for your business, which will have a big impact on your design/product development process, so take your time and don’t buy before you try.

Testing a joystick design

Testing the flexibility/functionality of a joystick product

Customers from a wide range of industries have benefited from using a 3D printer in their research and development processes. Visit the Objet website if you need industry specific information.

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Luis Doval