Affordable 3D printers are oft speculated as the next revolution in computing. Imagine a part breaking for an appliance of yours and the manufacturer stopped carrying parts for that model. Instead of having a broken hunk of junk, you could measure, design, and print the part yourself. After installing it, your appliance is back to working condition. 3D printing is also heralded as a great tool for rapid prototyping. What better way to get feedback and evaluate a design than to have a phyical representation of it in front of you instead of just plans, sketches, or blueprints.
I kept running across more information about 3D printers like this tour through a 3D printer factory that I looked into it more. I wrote a guest post over at FreewareGenius on a piece of software used to create the designs for a 3D printer. Today, I present to you a list of websites that offer a 3D printing service. You upload your designs and they ship your product to you. If it is not frequently needed or you would like to try it out before investing in a 3D printer, these sites can offer you a good variety at little cost.
Shapeways – Works with STL, Collada or X3D formats, allows you to have your model printed and shipped to you, offers a wide variety of printing materials, offers a shop for you to buy unique printings.
Sculpteo – Upload your design to have it printed or design your object online with their variety of tools. Optionally sell your objects in their marketplace and shop other designers’ products.
Ponoko – Customize an existing design or upload your own, choose materials, and then have it printed and shipped to you.
If you know of other sites or have recommendations for any of the above, please share in the comments.