Bringing your ideas to life with honesty, integrity, and expertise.
With 3D printing becoming more popular, we are beginning to see quite an arrangement of 3D printing services on the internet. I realize you have a choice in who you contract for your prototyping or 3D design and modeling needs, and I want you to be informed. I am quite different than most websites providing these services, and want to share a few things to keep in mind in order for you to make the best decision in pursuing your idea further.
1. Everyone can't do it.
I know this isn't a popular view, but everyone can't be a 3D printing provider, similar to the way everyone can't be an engineer, doctor, lawyer, photographer or teacher. There are good examples and bad examples in every profession and it's no different in the world of 3D design. There are thousands of different printers on the market right now, and the people pushing their sales would love for people to believe that anyone can get a printer and start turning out cool stuff. The truth is, that isn't how it works. Even among those who have quite a bit of experience in 3D design and printing, quality differs greatly. It takes hundreds of hours to dial in settings in order to get the quality results that most are looking for.
2. Answer the right questions.
Quite a few people who come to me to have something printed have no idea how 3D printing really works and certainly are not well versed in what can and can't be done with this technology. That's perfectly fine! It's my job to ask the right questions so that I fully understand the challenges and constraints of your design. When I accept a job, it's only after I feel absolutely confident in my ability to deliver something that exceeds the expectations of the customer. Almost every print job is different and I personally communicate any concerns or recommendations with the customer long before I accept any monetary reward. Occasionally, through this process, I discover that I do not have the right technology for the job, and then can recommend other options and provide information on where you can go for help.
3. Ask the right questions.
Do not have someone start a print job for you without communicating with them first. You can learn so much about a person by having a simple conversation. While someone's skill level and expertise can be easily masked or hidden by a cool website, their attitude, personality, character, and willingness to be helpful is hard to hide in a phone conversation. While not as good as meeting in person, you can often gain a good or bad feeling about a person through a brief phone call. If something doesn't feel right, don't be afraid to walk away.
Even if you know how 3D printing works, ask the service provider to talk you through the process of 3D printing as if you had never heard of it before. It should be very obvious from this sort of conversation if the person is going to give you attention to detail and truly treat your project as if it was their own. I love the opportunity to share my passion of 3D printing and design with anyone, and have mastered the art of explaining the technology to elementary school students at art fairs, moms dropping students off for classes and camps, and tech-savvy adults that I meet a trade shows.
Absolutely ask to see examples of their prints. Not prints that their friend did. Not prints that were given as examples by the company that manufactured their printer. Ask them directly if the samples shown were set up by them, printed by them, and printed on the machine that will be printing your project. Any 3D print provider should be able to produce many different examples of their prints. Interestingly, photos of 3D printed objects normally look worse in the photos than they do in person. I know it seems that the opposite would be true, but almost all pictures I have taken of my prints look way better in person than in the photo. With that said, the photo should still look pretty good, and you can easily tell when someone is good at their craft.
4. Automation is not necessarily best.
Most online 3D print services have a really fancy upload button and system of automatically generating a quote. While on the surface this appears good, it leaves customers with the feeling that there is some sort of fail-safe system in place that is accurately processing your file and generating the actual price that you are going to pay. That simply isn't the case. In reality, the computer is "looking" at your file and determining as best it can if there are any problems, and attempting to repair them. The computer isn't considering what the dimensions need to be, or if any support material must be added. Equally important, the computer has no idea what settings or type of printer will be used and how much time that printer will be running. While some quotes may come pretty close based on part volume, a majority of the time, the person on the other end of the 3D print service must contact the customer to let them know that there will be additional costs that may even make the job way out of the customer's budget. As 3D print costs are based mostly on how much time is needed to print the item, support material can easily double the cost of the print.
5. The Light Shine difference.
In contrast to these automated systems, I work directly with the customer to make certain that their questions, concerns, and needs are addressed. Before even talking about a cost, I will accept files by email, Dropbox, Google Docs, or any other way that digital files can be sent and personally spend time inspecting your file and assessing the challenges of your print. I will then explain what will be need and verify all dimensions for the part to be printed. If I am concerned about quality issues for a print, I will even do some test prints to make certain my gut feelings about a design are correct. Once I am absolutely certain that the job can be done in a way that meets or exceeds the customer's expectations, I will give an honest and accurate quote. If you are not happy with the quote, you are completely free to walk away and pursue other options. If you decide to continue, I will send you a payment request through PayPal and begin work on your project as soon as payment has been submitted, or according to any terms that are previously agreed upon.
I base the success of my business upon relationships with people. I view every customer I have the opportunity to serve as a personal friend and am committed to treating their project as if it was my own. Having been in education for over 12 years, I truly have the heart of a teacher and love to see the customer learn with their project. I will absolutely go above and beyond to make sure your project is as successful as possible, and I would love the opportunity to serve you.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. - Matthew 5:16 KJV