View Full Version : Adventures in Rapid Prototyping Estimates
06-12-2005, 11:58 PM
I've been getting some online quotes for my digital sculptures from several RP service providers, lately, and the results have been educational, amusing and frustrating, all at once.
The main source of both amusement and frustration is that no two companies' online quote software seems to read my models and give me a consistent measurement of them. While Stereolithography.com told me "Mother & Child" is a paltry 3.774"x3.04"x2.848", American Precision Prototyping's identical software told me its size is 95.859"x78.578"x72.338"! Deciding which is correct has be confusing, to say the least.
Another factor is the prices being quoted. Axis Printer.com doesn't provide quotes, opting, instead, for a very attractive flat fee schedule based on build volume. For anything under 5 cubic inches in volume, the price is a flat $199, whereas, anything over 5 cubic inches costs more. Seems very reasonable. I just hope they can produce wax investment casting patterns. Maybe not, as they are using fused deposition.
For Mother & Child, Quickparts quoted $916, whereas, Stereolithography.com quoted $498.53. But, the most outrageous of all was Spectrum 3D's price of over half a million dollars, which was probably based on an inaccurate size analysis of my model! I was impressed, though, by their quote engine, which displayed my sculpture in a 3D rotating animation immediately after I uploaded my STL file. Maybe their pricing is influenced by the fact they did the prototypes for the special effects in the movie "I Robot."
The most frustrating aspect of this process has been trying to find a price that allows for the casting of the final sculpture and still leaves me room for a decent markup and results in a price I can actually sell my work for. So far, it looks like Axis Printer may be the one to get my business.
Anyone else have similar horror stories?
06-13-2005, 09:24 AM
Similar to my experiences. I use Rhino3d as well as autocad and my understanding is that the piece is done in units, and a unit could be anything from a millimeter to a mile. I think you have to specify to the observer or technician that you are talking inches, centimeters or whatever.
06-13-2005, 09:32 AM
Relative to the above post, of course if you your settings in autocad are specifically architectural, dimensions are shown as feet and inches.
06-13-2005, 01:20 PM
Well, that's just it; every one of these sites has a provision for specifying inches or millimeters and, in every case, I've specified inches. Why the same file is then found to be at radically different sizes, even when the same quote software is used by two different sites, is beyond me. It's an STL file, by the way, not the native 3DS file we're talking about here. It must be the way each company has set up their analysis software, because they should be getting the same result. Inches is inches.
Where things are concerned at my end, I'm just using a demo of 3DS MAX, which I'm not wholly familiar with, yet. In checking, just now, I have discovered that it is possible, afterall, to set the units. I hadn't noticed this before until I went looking for it, but, under Customize, there is Units Setup and I have set it to Fractional Inches. Checking Mother & Child with the units sets right, I can see that the larger estimate was actually the correct one, afterall, as it's measuring 3,142"x2,959"x2,847" or 261'x80'x237', roughly. No wonder they wanted half a million dollars! Apparently, unlike most of them, they don't have any size restrictions on their equipment, somehow. Most have a build envelope of not more than 20" or so. But, in any case, you would think they'd all be able to read my model as being the same size. Perhaps when Stereolithography.com quoted 3.774x3.094x2.848 they meant "generic units" rather than inches, as the default setting in 3DS MAX is generic units. Well, anyway, now I know. Thanks for the feedback! :D
P.S.: Yep, I know all about Autocad. I've been making my living using it since 1989. ;)
06-13-2005, 08:50 PM
I've been getting some online quotes for my digital sculptures from several RP service providers, lately, and the results have been educational, amusing and frustrating, all at once. ...
9"x78.578"x72.338"! Deciding which is correct has be confusing, to say the least. ....
Another factor is the prices being quoted. Axis Printer.com doesn't provide quotes, opting, instead, for a very attractive flat fee schedule based on build volume. For anything under 5 cubic inches in volume, the price is a flat $199, whereas, anything over 5 cubic inches costs more. Seems very reasonable. .....
Gary - Iím sure you realize the Axis Printer quote of $199 for anything up to ď5 cubic inches in volumeĒ covers a cube about 1 3/4 inches on a side, or something comparable, but other readers may not. A cube 2 inches on a side has a volume of 8 cubic inches. Pretty small for a sculpture. Iím not surprised. That shows the state of the commercial art today. Interesting information.
06-27-2005, 02:23 PM
Our quote engine was still in the beta stages not too long ago. Give it another try. If you still have problems, by all means give me a call and I can help out.
Spectrum 3D, inc.
714 734 9600
06-27-2005, 03:23 PM
Yep, I know. Ron Barranco of Stereolithography.com was telling me you guys are using the quote engine he developed. I guess it can be calibrated differently, though.
As it stands, I'm probably going to use American Precision Prototyping (APP) in Tulsa. They've been really good at helping me, so far, plus they're within a two hour drive, if I ever want to "check up" on them. Thanks, though.
Fritchie, thanks. I was aware it was pretty small for a sculpture, but I didn't know it was that small. By the way, I did a wax pattern quote for a pendant I designed, about 1.5" x 2" and the volume was only 0.078 c.i., however, the price for just the wax came out to $105 (from APP). So, even at jewelry size, this is still pretty expensive - and theirs are the lowest quotes I've had, so far. I think the jewelry industry's use of Thermojet wax printers is facilitated by leasing the machines, as opposed to using service bureaus, like I'll be doing. I don't know if I'll see enough income to warrant a lease on one, though. At $29,000 for the cheapest one on the market, I figure the lease has to be at least 10% of the purchase price per year, or $2,900, which is $241.66 per month. It's probably actually higher. The good thing is, though, If I did lease one, I could do RP for others and make some additional income from the machine. Of course, this doesn't include the supplies, though.
04-25-2006, 04:06 AM
Hello GaryR52 !
Perhaps you may try checking with ROLAND about their MDX 15, MDX 20 or MDX 40 which range in prices from $3000 onwards. But the plus is that these equip can both scan and mill. For jewellery or figurines it may be just what you are looking for. Another plus is that I could sent you my file and you could mill it for me at a reasonable charge.
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