Which is the best 3D printer?

Buy a 3D printer or work with a service provider?

3D-Druck Printfactory Jellypipe - Arbeiten am Drucker

Additive manufacturing is the talk of the town, and various success stories from a wide range of industries can be read about in trade journals and the media. It should be clear by now that this trend cannot be ignored if one wants to remain competitive. But how do you get started with 3D printing?

The advantages of 3D printing are well known. Components with complex geometries can be produced or multiple components can be consolidated into one. It is also possible to reduce the weight of components or to create completely customized parts. In addition, only a single piece - often a prototype - can be produced or small, medium and large series. But how does one get to the 3D printed part. Is it worth it to purchase an industrial 3D printer for a six-figure sum? Or does it make more sense to work with a service provider?

Contents of this article:


Topics to consider for the decision to buy a 3D printer or order at a service provider:

During analysis, whether a purchase of a 3D printer is worthwhile or not, the following topics must should be considered, among many others too:

  • What technology/material do you need?
  • Which 3D printer is suitable and how big is the investment?
  • What are the operating costs?
  • How quickly and professionally is the support-service of a printer in case of a problem during printing you cannot solve by your own?
  • Do you need the full capacity the considered 3D printer could produce? I.e., do you need a large number of components of a single technology? Or do you need different technologies and materials?
  • How many parts must be printed until you achieve the return on investment?
  • How long does it take for an employee of your company to become familiar with the technology and produce usable components in the quality needed?
  • How fast is the technology developing? I.e., will a printer with significantly higher efficiency be sold on the market in just a few months?


Such an analysis will often show - especially for smaller or medium-sized companies - that the investment is very high, and it needs some time, until usable parts can be printed. An advantage of manufacturing in-house is that parts are available immediately after printing, and you will build up knowledge about the whole process.


A disadvantage is the limitation in terms of materials that can be printed on one printer. There is also the high risk that the technology will become obsolete before the investment has paid off. With a new technology developing at breakneck speed, this is an important aspect that should not be ignored.


Can you remain competitive in terms of 3D printing expertise without your own 3D printer?

Jellypipe Plattform V3 Materialassistent

If the decision is made that an own 3D printer is not worthwhile because the required quantities are too small or the investment is too high, 3D printing parts will be purchased from a service provider. However, this raises the question of how you can remain competitive and build up sufficient expertise in additive manufacturing. Consider when working with a service provider, that you only lose the expertise to operate the printer and the manufacturing process. You will not know in detail how components are technically arranged in a build space (the so-called "nesting"). Furthermore, you will not have expertise in troubleshooting if a printer interrupts the 3D printing process due to an error. But how relevant is this expertise in terms of your company's future viability?

You can only answer these questions for yourself. Some advice: The most important aspects of additive manufacturing are two aspects: one, recognising applications that have potential and become more economical when 3D printed. Two, the expertise to design these components, assemblies and applications in a way that exploits the potential and makes them printable. In addition, you should be familiar with the most important technologies, materials and their advantages and disadvantages regarding to the design of parts. With a wider range of choices, you will learn about different applications and thus acquire a broad expertise. An advantage, don't you think?

How much effort does it take to order at a 3D printing service provider?

3D-Druck Printfactory und Support

If your company is in the evaluation phase and the decision has been made to work with a service provider, the question still arises as to how much effort is required before you can really get started.

If you need 3D printed components for your company's own use, you can purchase them from a service provider such as Jellypipe and ideally also receive appropriate advice there. (At Jellypipe through the so-called Solution Partners). This allows you to acquire the experience component by component.

Image: the expertise is crucial. Jellypipe offers support in getting started with 3D printing for partner companies

What if I need components not only for myself, but also want to sell them to my customers?

If you want to sell 3D printed parts to your customers, you need a little more lead time. However, with Jellypipe and a Jellypipe store, you have the advantage of support from our engineering team in terms of 3D printing expertise and from the sales and marketing people in terms of customer acquisition and support. Of course, we know from experience how much time and resources this takes. If you're ready to dedicate an employee to 3D printing and gain expertise, you'll be up and running in a matter of weeks. And you can always call on us for help with tricky technical questions that you need to answer correctly, of course. Until you are ready in your company and can answer all questions yourself.

And the most important thing: at Jellypipe you get an online store in the solution partner model, where your customers can buy directly from you. Price and delivery time calculation within 30 seconds, a wide range of materials and technologies included. Would you like to learn more? Read more here: the Solution Partner Model.

Book a non-binding consultation appointment

At Jellypipe you get your own e-shop and sell 3D printed parts to your customers. Would you like to know more? Book a no-obligation consultation appointment.

How does 3D printing work at Jellypipe?

As a small overview, we would like to explain the different roles and models at Jellypipe:


Read more about the partner models here: become a partner . By the way: there are also mixed models for Solution Partners who own a printer but want to expand the range. Just ask us!

We hope you will soon start with 3D printing successfully.

Yours, Jellypipe

More information about printer, service provider, quality

Read more about the following topics in our detailed blog articles:


Dominik Estermann
Chief Executive Officer

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