An Oxfordshire company is pioneering a new type of subscription service for companies keen to use 3D Printing but put off by the hassle -and the prices.
PrintPool’s new system works on ‘print credits’ being assigned on a monthly basis, which can be exchanged for print and finishing services, and design support. This scheme will take away many of the issues that come with the 3D printing learning curve, the company says.
Presently there are two main options for R&D teams and businesses using 3D printing. The first is outsourcing production to a large service bureau, which tends to be expensive, and with slow turnaround times. This is because the large service companies typically have the very largest machines, which must be completely filled before they can be run profitably. The second option is for a company to buy the equipment and attempt to 3D print in-house. The downside is that this involves large capital expenditure, personnel training and lab space before any benefits can be realised, and so businesses soon end up limited to one or two types of lower quality printers. PrintPool’s subscription service offers a third option, giving local firms the benefit of a wide range of professional grade processes and materials, without the accompanying hassle.
Printpool, which is based at the Wood Centre for Innovation at Headington, thinks its offer will encourage small businesses to incorporate 3D printing technologies into their workflow where they typically wouldn’t have been considered before. New products are essential to most firm’s growth plans, and 3D printing is a great technology as a prototyping tool, and to produce unique, one-of-a-kind items that simply aren’t feasible any other way.
Gerard Shields, founder and Managing Director of PrintPool, said: “We are very excited about our 3D printing by subscription offering and have already seen it benefit customers greatly by allowing them to be in full control of their spend and output, whilst taking away all the hassle of machine ownership.”