The Wall Street Journal's Steve Rosenbush reports on the emergence of 3D printing service companies, which could change the face of prototyping.
Many small businesses would love to take advantage of 3-D printing, but are held back by the high cost of the machines and the need for specialized workers. The solution has emerged in the form of cloud-based printing services, where companies can have their 3D printing outsourced by a third-party. Small businesses upload their design to a server, and the cloud company prints it for them and then ships the model back.
"For small businesses and groups within enterprises, 3-D service bureaus will play a growing role,” says Pete Basiliere, an analyst with Gartner Inc. He says such services will open up new avenues for prototyping and manufacturing, as well as low-cost market testing of designs.
For builders, 3D printing services could provide opportunities for creating low-cost product models and testing building designs without having to plunk down for the hardware.