While the 3D printing industry grows larger by the day, the 3D printing world is getting smaller. More and more platforms are popping up online putting 3D print enthusiasts, designers, companies and start-ups in closer contact with one another.
After this week’s announcement from Sketchfab that it wants to turn its web service into the 3D printing equivalent of YouTube, comes the official launch of RP Marketplace. A B2B platform that aims to connect businesses looking for 3D print services with reliable, specialised 3D print suppliers, it could change the way additive manufacturing jobs are sourced, contracted and paid for.
The method is simple. If you run a business and have a 3D print project that needs a firm to complete it, you post the details on RP Marketplace completely free of charge. Once it’s up, the various 3D print companies signed up to the site can make bids on it. After reviewing the bids, and the detailed profiles of the bidders, you pick the one you like the best and they get down to work.
During the project itself, you can create and fund milestones to track and monitor the completion of the job. Upon delivery of the prototype, you release the funds to the supplier.
For the supplier it’s free to register, though there’s two different membership types, the details of which are listed below:
The simplicity and efficiency of the process has numerous benefits for both the client and the supplier. For one it is entirely transparent, as both parties are clear on what is expected and possible from the get go. Similarly, the fact that RP Marketplace manages the transactions ensures financial security all around.
It also streamlines the method by which 3D print companies can find customers and clients can source 3D printing, centralising the entire process on a single space.
25 professional print companies have already signed up to the site, ranging from large scale engineers to smaller, niche firms and that number is sure to rise quickly if initial feedback from clients is good. The target is to eventually have suppliers in every region of the United States.
Steven Joffe, the founder and CEO of RP Marketplace explains how it has simplified the process like this:
One of the ways RP Marketplace has done that is by integrating helpful tips into the bidding and hiring process. These not only educate buyers about the types of rapid prototyping services available, but also provide useful information about the suggested materials and printers, as well as what differentiates each supplier.