3D Point, a 3D printing service bureau based right outside of Berlin, Germany, is fast becoming the go-to for many companies needing to produce parts in large volumes. Although still a young company, having been founded in 2020 by Dieter Fischer and Stefan Wenzel, 3D Point has been receiving orders nearly nonstop from local customers as well as manufacturing and industrial companies across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and beyond. Some of their biggest customers include large manufacturing companies supplying the automotive and railway industries.
To provide the best service to their customers, Stefan and Dieter employ an army of 60 3D printers, which utilize a mix of FDM, SLA, and SLS technologies. Half of them are the popular UltiMaker S series. The company has a mix of S5 and the recently launched S7 printers.
“I have been using UltiMaker printers for 10 years, so I know how reliable the machines are,” said Stefan. “When I was at P&G, we used them in the additive manufacturing department to print spare parts for the Gillette production line. We were printing thousands of parts, and the printers really exceeded our expectations.”
At 3D Point, the team of three use the S series printers for different applications, but primarily replacement parts in series for companies, which vary from 300 to 5,000 pieces per order. 3D Point’s customers have 3D printing in-house, but do not have the capacity to print parts in large quantities. That is when customers outsource their production to the company.
With orders this large, Stefan needs to ensure that there is little to no down time. A broken printer could mean major delays for his team, and, in turn, for their customers.
“UltiMaker printers are very user-friendly, and hardly require any maintenance or repairs. The machines have good firmware and the regular updates are efficient,” said Stefan. “At 3D Point, the printers are working almost nonstop. If there is an issue, we get serviced by UltiMaker’s channel partner Igo3D. They are local, fast, reliable, and can get the machine back up and running in no time.” Igo3D is UltiMaker’s channel partner and representative for Germany, Austria & Switzerland.
The S5’s compact size also allows Stefan to stack them all on shelves against one wall without taking too much space within the print farm, compared to traditional industrial machines or other desktop 3D printers. At the same time, the S5, as well as the S7, offers a large enough build volume that allows 3D Point to keep up with demand or to print larger parts as needed.
“I am excited about the new S7. We have been using it and have found that the bed leveling has improved and is better and more advanced than the S5. In addition, the PEI coated flex plate is the best I have ever experienced in the market. The first layer sticks to it better with no warping and parts come off the plate easier. The S series overall has been a fantastic product line,” said Stefan.
“The factors that are important for a service bureau are ensuring that setting up a print job is easy and that each print should be first time right. We are fulfilling orders constantly so any issues that delay us–whether it is iterating on design or having technical issues–will affect our business as a whole,” Stefan continued.
An important aspect for 3D Point was the S5’s open materials platform, which provides the team with flexibility to meet the different needs of their customers. While they mostly use UltiMaker materials, sometimes customers have specific materials requirements. As a result, they have the option to utilize the UltiMaker Marketplace, which opens them up to hundreds of third-party materials from which to choose, including BASF Forward AM’s Ultrafuse, PolyTerra™ from Polymaker, Extrudr GreenTEC, and more.
Although they work in a print farm which already has a strong ventilation system for 60 printers, Stefan notes that the UltiMaker Air Manager is a great added value when it comes to ensuring better air quality in the space. Some materials require a closed system when printing to ensure that the materials print properly. But that means more particulates are swirling in the air. The Air Manager not only keeps the temperature inside the build chamber more consistent, it also helps to filter the air to reduce particulates.
Data security is also a top priority for the 3D Point team. “Another key reason for using UltiMaker is the security certification ISO/IEC 27001 for its software, an internationally recognized standard for information security management. We prefer a closed system for IT data, which is essential for the protection of intellectual property. There are strict laws in place in The Netherlands as well as the European Union that prevent the misuse and mishandling of data. As a European company, UltiMaker takes the security of its customers’ data seriously. We feel better knowing that our and our customers’ data are protected with UltiMaker,” stated Stefan.
Headquartered in The Netherlands, UltiMaker is in strict compliance with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a comprehensive privacy legislation that protects personal data and the movement of data for all European citizens, and the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act, which governs what may or may not be done with personal data.
3D Point is preparing to print metal on the UltiMaker printers. With requests for metal parts coming in, it has been something that Stefan has been working towards.
“We have the knowledge of printing in-house, we have software and design expertise, we have material knowledge on the Ultrafuse 17-4 and 316L, we have a close relationship with a sinter and debinding company. And on top, we are investing in post-processing, such as polishing (diamant) and laser engraving. We are ready,” Stefan concluded.