By Hsing Wei, via Wikimedia Commons
Businesses may now be able to get their 3D designs printed and delivered the next day.
3D printing company Solid Prototype has made it its mission to offer a next-day delivery service.
The company claims to be the first in the industry to make it possible for customers to order their 3D design and have it in their hands within the space of a single day.
The impetus for the firm to make this a reality was the rousing State of the Union Address given by Barack Obama last month, which lauded 3D printing as a key emerging manufacturing sector.
In his speech, the president said: "Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. There are things we can do, right now, to accelerate this trend.
"Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionise the way we make almost everything."
Manufacturing projects, Solid Prototype explained, are on a time constraint and therefore having to wait a week or more for the necessary parts is not always a luxury companies can afford.
Timing is the "most important asset" to a business that delivers 3D printing services, as the system has the ability to cut manufacturing time to pieces that can then be produced simultaneously.
Austin-based Solid Prototype provides its clients with a quote within hours, then prints the parts in either plastic or rubber and ships the finished articles directly to the customer within 24 hours to wherever they are in the US.
Owner of Solid Prototype Charles Barton said: "Imagine having immediate access to discontinued parts for machinery, custom auto parts that don't exist in any catalogue, or a prototype for an invention that's been crawling around in your brain. Now, you can have it tomorrow."
And the expediency of next-day delivery will not mean the quality of the product has to suffer, as Mr Barton explained that quality is "equally as important as timing".
Solid Prototype prints all its clients' parts at 16 micron accuracy using Stratasys/Objet machines.
Solid Prototype may well have found the solution to the manufacturing problem the president referenced. And its enterprising brain-to-hand initiative could spark copycat schemes as other 3D printing firms vie for custom in this ever-expanding market - particularly as high-quality 3D printing is increasing in demand.
Indeed, businesses, customers, and investors alike can all tell the difference between an off-the-shelf part and a brittle, scratchy prototype.
"Don't come up short with a part that looks cheap - instead fool them all with a functional replica," Barton urged.