Being a global news site, 3DPI works across many different time zones, and it can sometimes be difficult to get the logistics spot on, particularly when working with a company with information under embargo. So with HQ in Bangkok, our Editor in the UK, and writing in the US, it can get a little confusing occasionally! So today, Monday July 15 (Tuesday July 16 in Asia, at time of publication) SupplyBetter, the Expedia for 3D printing suppliers gave users their first peek into SupplyBetter’s database of manufacturers with the unveiling of 100 supplier profiles.
Up until recently, the company, which acts as the switchboard operator that connects clients in need of manufacturing services with appropriate suppliers, had kept their network hidden on the back end. Clients would request price quotes for a given project, the project would be listed to the supply network and suppliers would place bids, with SupplyBetter taking a small percentage. Now, the profiles for these companies are in the process of being released to the public, so that visitors can see which potential manufacturers might best handle their needs. The profiles will not only describe a firm’s skill-base, but what types of machines, methods of production and materials they use. Users will also be able to review suppliers, turning SupplyBetter into the Yelp (in addition to the Expedia) of the manufacturing industry.
Take Pixil3D, for instance. You can see on their profile page that, after 10 years of web and mobile design, the firm has only recently embarked on 3D printing, using a few different Makerbots. This would probably make them more suited to low-resolution prototyping, but may make them more affordable as a result. PartSnap, on the other hand, uses an Objet 30 Pro, a Stratasys uPrint SE Plus, a Form 1, and a NextEngine 3D Scanner for product development and engineering. Boasting such a variety of machines, and scanning technology, may give them versatility enough to tackle a wide range of projects. Or you could decide to go with a group like Parts Oven, not because you know anything about their machines, but because you live in California and you know they’re local to you when you see their location in Paso Robles, California listed at the top of their page. This might mean that, if you live nearby, shipping times on any parts produced will be dramatically reduced.
SupplyBetter plans on expanding its list of profiles, including more pictures, descriptions, and reviews. For now, they’ve only listed companies in the United States, but they will soon include their foreign suppliers, as well. This is a huge and necessary step for the 3D printing industry to really reach a wider audience and with SupplyBetter’s database of 250 suppliers, and counting, I’m excited to see the huge array of manufacturing firms in the world with their diverse production capabilities all listed in a single place.