From the birthplace of FDM comes a 3D printing service bureau that hopes to meet the manufacturing needs of both the surrounding Minnesota area and around the globe. As one of an increasing number of firms that offer a variety of 3D printing services, 3D Printing Ally is representative of a new space for limited part orders, filling a previous gap left by mass manufacturing.
Harnessing a desire to bring 3D printing solutions to businesses of any size, the bureau offers a range of services, including: 3D modeling, 3D scanning, 3D printing, reverse engineering, inspection and secondary operations (sanding, smoothing and, soon, chroming). And, because they have no minimum order, it’s possible for even the smallest of companies to order just-in-time (JIT) components. The firm uses a number of machines to accomplish the task. A Stratasys Fortus 400mc utilizes FDM for multi-material plastic prints. 3D Systems SPro 60, ProJet 7000, and ZPrinter 650 machines expand the range of materials, resolutions and colours that the company can handle. 3D Printing Ally is also planning on acquiring a 3D Systems ProJet 3500.
With companies like 3D Printing Ally, the world of manufacturing is becoming more nuanced. AM not only allows smaller companies to produce in limited numbers, but also adds to the capability of large OEMs with new prototyping tools and precise augmentations to already existing methods. 3D printing service providers are not a new phenomenon — indeed the largest vendors of 3D printing systems have grown (often through mergers and acquisitions) to offer global services. However, it is not too surprising to see the industrial landscape increasingly populated by a variety of smaller, local firms providing a local service.