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RapidMade's Contract Manufacturing Solutions

To help you select the right technology and material for your application

An overview of our 3D plastic, metal, colored composite and traditional manufacturing options

To learn about our design guidelines for a specific process, please click on the picture for that process to go to its devoted page.

 

3D Printed Plastics

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Standard Materials: ABS

Relative Cost: ★★☆☆☆

Machine Finish: ☆☆

Typical Lead Time:  2-5 Business Days

Specialty Materials: PC, nylon, ULTEM and many more (See FDM page)

Relative Cost: ★★★★☆

Machine Finish: ☆☆

Typical Lead Time: 3-7 Business Days

FDM Pros: Very high accuracy on large parts, diverse materials, rigid and tough, fast turnaround, sparse fill for light weight with high part volumes

FDM Cons: Striated machine finish, low resolution on features under 0.030"

 

Polyjet (Objet) Printing

Standard Materials: Acrylic and polypropylene-like

Relative Cost: ★★★☆☆

Machine Finish: 

Typical Lead Time:  2-5 Business Days

Specialty Materials: ABS-like, various elastomers and digital materials (See Polyjet Page)

Relative Cost: ★★★★☆

Machine Finish: 

Typical Lead Time: 3-7 Business Days

Polyjet Pros: Top quality detail, best surface finish, clear material option, embedded textures, fine features, single piece mechanical assemblies

Polyjet Cons: Resins - not industrial thermoplastics, lower heat resistance, better for smaller parts

 

Selective Laser SIntering (SLS)

Standard Materials: Nylon and glass filled nylon

Relative Cost*: ★★★☆☆

Machine Finish: ★★★☆☆

Typical Lead Time:  5-10 Business Days

Specialty Materials: Rubber (TPU), carbon filled nylon and other composites (See SLS page)

Relative Cost: ★★★★☆

Machine Finish: ★★★☆☆

Typical Lead Time: 5-10 Business Days

SLS Pros: Real thermoplastic and thermoplastic composites, uniform matte finish, great thermal and mechanical properties

SLS Cons: Large and thick parts can warp, longer production lead times, porous material, low resolution on features under 0.030"

*In volume SLS can become one of the least expensive printing processes.

 

Large Format 3D Printing

Standard Materials: Epoxy infused Acrylic

Relative Cost*: ★★★☆☆

Machine Finish: ★★★☆☆

Typical Lead Time:  5-10 Business Days

Specialty Materials: Sand (Sand Casting), Low Ash Burnout Resin (Investment Casting)

Relative Cost: ★★★☆☆

Machine Finish: ★★★☆☆

Typical Lead Time: 5-10 Business Days

Large Format Pros: Largest build size of any 3D printers, cost effective for large parts, casting patterns and molds without any additional tooling

Large Format Cons: Not as durable as SLS or FDM, not intended for small objects, longer production lead times compared to smaller printers

 

3D Printed Metals

Note: 3D printed metals tend to be 5 to 10 times the cost of 3D printed plastics and are often more expensive than machined metals.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

Standard Materials: Aluminum, stainless steel, tool steel and titanium

Relative Cost: 

Machine Finish: ★★☆☆

Typical Lead Time:  5-15 Business Days

Specialty Materials: Cobalt chrome, inconel, (nickel alloy) and more (See DMLS page)

Relative Cost: 

Machine Finish: ★★★☆☆

Typical Lead Time: 5-15 Business Days

DMLS Pros: Stronger than cast parts, works with exotic and expensive to machine metals, can make parts that are otherwise not manufacturable

DMLS Cons: Limited part size (generally under 10"), rough finish, lower tolerance than machining, generally more expensive than machining

 

Printed Metal

Standard Materials: Stainless steel bronze alloy

Relative Cost: 

Machine Finish: ★★☆☆

Typical Lead Time:  10-20 Business Days

Specialty Materials: None

Relative Cost: N/A

Machine Finish: N/A

Typical Lead Time: N/A

Printed Metal Pros: Half to a third the cost of typical DMLS parts, beautiful bronze polish look, easily plated, larger bed than DMLS

Printed Metal Cons: Single available material, low strength to weight ratio for metal, long lead time relative to other 3D technologies

 

3D Printed Composites

Colorjet Full Color Composite

Standard Materials: Full color composite

Relative Cost: ☆☆

Machine Finish: ★★☆☆

Typical Lead Time:  2-5 Business Days

Specialty Materials: None

Relative Cost: N/A

Machine Finish: N/A

Typical Lead Time: N/A

Full Color Composite Pros: Full gradient of 390,000 colors, generally least expensive material, fastest way to make large models, very rigid

Full Color Composite Cons: Features thinner than 0.100" can be brittle, does not have the flex of real plastic

 

Traditional Manufacturing

Machining

Standard Materials: ABS, HDPE, acetal, nylon, aluminum, stainless steel

Relative Cost: Quantity and lead dependent

Machine Finish: ★★

Typical Lead Time:  5-15 Business Days

Specialty Materials: Custom materials available on request

Relative Cost: Quantity and lead dependent

Machine Finish: ★★

Typical Lead Time: 5-15 Business Days

Machining Pros: Scales well with volume, widest range of materials, high tolerance and good surface finish

Machining Cons: Generally more expensive at low volumes and higher complexity than 3D printing, more design limitations than 3D printing

 

Urethane Casting

Standard Materials: Rigid and rubber urethane, acrylic, resins,  plaster, composites

Relative Cost: ★★☆☆

Machine Finish: ★★★☆

Typical Lead Time:  5-15 Business Days

Specialty Materials: Custom materials available on request

Relative Cost: ★★☆☆

Machine Finish: ★★★☆

Typical Lead Time: 5-15 Business Days

Urethane Casting Pros: Repeatable textured finishes, good for over-molding, mimics injection molding faster and with lower tooling cost

Urethane Casting Cons: 5-10 days required to make tooling, moderate tooling costs, does not use thermoplastic, higher part cost than injection molding

 

Injection Molding

Standard Materials: ABS, polycarbonate, polypropylene, polyethylene,  nylon, TPU

Relative Cost: Quantity and lead dependant

Machine Finish: ★★

Typical Lead Time:  4-12 Weeks

Specialty Materials: Custom materials available on request

Relative Cost: Quantity and lead dependant

Machine Finish: ★★

Typical Lead Time: 4-12 Weeks

Injection Molding Pros: Highest quality, lowest cost production parts available in large quantities, expedited production in as little as four weeks

Injection Molding Cons: High tooling costs and longer lead times