The Differences Between Beginner, Commercial, and Industrial 3D Printing

When you’re getting started in 3D printing, don’t be afraid to experiment you really cannot break the 3D printer. You’ll only learn by taking chances so be brave, bold and fearless.

Beginner 3D printing refers to hobbyists and describes how many people initially get into 3D printing as a business. They start as hobbyists who got in on the ground floor at the right time. They gained expertise through passion and became the pioneers of a burgeoning industry.

Commercial 3D printing refers to the middle ground of creating products that you want to sell. This isn’t a strict category per se. It can refer to bespoke 3D designs created for individual clients (often referred to as intermediate 3D printing), or it can refer to creating an entire production run of finished products (often called professional 3D printing).

At this level, you’re going to want to work the kinks out of a design before any serious production run. The design and prototyping processes are crucial here. Engage in a full production run and only later recognize a flaw, and you’ve engaged in an expensive mistake. Therefore it’s useful to work with a 3D printing company that has experience in 3D design. We can guide you through the prototyping process and point out 3D design considerations from a fresh perspective.

Industrial 3D printing is a whole different ballgame. Entire houses have been 3D printed. They can be lived in and function just like any other kind of house. Obviously, when talking about this level of industrial 3D design, you’re talking about hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars being spent on design and technology.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory set a Guinness World Record by making the largest solid object ever 3D printed. It was a tool used to produce airplanes for Boeing, securing the composite skin for a wing so drilling and machining could take place. It measured 17.5 feet long and 1,650 lbs. in weight. The tool will be in use this year at their manufacturing facility in St. Louis, MO.

These aren’t hard and fast categories. There are a number of industrial applications you might use in commercial 3D printing. With 3D laser scanning, we have the ability to reverse engineer parts so that they can be produced inexpensively. Being able to reverse engineer parts is a godsend if a part you need is no longer produced. It certainly saves money re-producing the part with us rather than replacing an entire machine.

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