NOTE- This post may be edited in the future to correct mistakes or add information. I am providing this info to the best of my knowledge and investigation, but I won't be responsible for any mistakes made here in good faith.
I recently pursued a survey of some 3d vendors in order to find the best choices for these three criteria for different material types:
I was especially looking for a vendor for high-resolution parts in polyJet or SLA.
I'm not going to post a ton of commentary aside from a few observations and my conclusions.I knew that I had paid about $36 for a Petaminx corner in polyJet when I built that puzzle. This was my benchmark throughout this investigation, even though some processes might charge differently based on part volume, bounding box size, or support material required. This was my benchmark regardless.
Here are a few prices I was quoted that were about double or more than what I was looking fort:
^^^^REDEYE-- polyJet Corner - $86
^^^^RPDG (rapidquote) -- Corner (Volume 5470) - verowhite or veroblue = $306
^^^^ZoomRP.com polyJetWhite - $68.55
^^^^SolidConcepts.com -- $69
Here are a few that I ordered as tests.
^^^^Shapeways corner SLS $9
^^^^Shapeways corner Polyjet $15.81
^^^^Shapeways corner Stainless Steel $55
^^^^http://www.prototype3d.com/ (C.ideas) Polyjet - $35
^^^^Kemeera PolyJet - $36
^^^^DLP (Steve Asaad) - $30
^^^^PrintAPart (invision HR print)- about $36
^^^^Anonymous DLP Vendor ($110 for corner, so I ordered the smaller "outer wing")
Before the photos, here are my conclusions:For FDM
For customer service/speed, use printTo3D (Bradley!) of course. His prices are comparable to shapeWays, but service and speed are vastly superior. If you need bread and butter FDM, Bradley's the choice.For cheap but messy Hi-res (polyjet)
Use shapeways polyJet for price, but plan on 1.5-2 weeks for delivery, and plenty of support material to clean up. See photos. With cleanup, these should work great for masters. I liked the black material because it made the support material very visible.For cheap but ROUGH Hi-res (SLS)
Use shapeways SLS for price, but plan on 1.5-2 weeks for delivery, and plenty of breakin for your puzzle to smooth out the surfaces. See photos. Don't use these for masters!For quality, fast, friendly Hi-res (polyjet)
Use c.ideas. They are EXTREMELY fast and friendly, and price parts on volume, without haggling. Great service. Parts come cleaned up!For quality, fast, friendly Hi-res (DLP), and the best overall part quality!!
Use Steve Asaad's DLP printing service (PHONE - 734 624 3463, email - Steveasaaddlp (AT) gmail (DOT) com, contact details posted with Steve's permission).
These are the highest quality parts of any type I have seen yet, at prices comparable to polyJet (or 2x polyJet on Shapeways). Combine that with some of the most amazing customer service I have seen, and these guys are a great choice for the high-quality parts. Be aware, there seems to be a $20 part minimum, so they might be more expensive for very small parts. But still likely worth it for the quality, speed and service. Drewseph and I are already using them with great results. Just see the photos below. Great for masters.Something to keep our eyes on- Invision HR
The Invision HR through printapart.com is economically comparable to my $36 benchmark, but messy like shapeWays polyJet. It does seem very high resolution though. We should keep an eye out for improvements in cleanup from vendors in the future. See the photos below for the nice surface finish on the "Outer_Wing", but the messy support material on the "corner".ShapeWays Metal Printing
Shapeways stainless steel printing can be had for about 2x the price of my polyJet benchmark. ($55 for the corner) Check out the $11 stainless steel part in the photos below.ShapeWays White Glaze
Not suitable for twisty puzzles at this time. Details are removed, specifications may change slightly, and surface detail is smoother but still uneven.
PHOTOS SHOWN BELOW:SLS by shapewayspolyJet White by shapewayspolyJet Clear by shapewayspolyJet Black by shapewaysprint-a-part Invision HR DLP Prototypes ShapeWays White GlazeAnonymous Vendor A polyjetprint23D ABSShapeWays SteelAnonymous Vendor B polyJetRedEyeAnonymous Vendor C DLPc.ideas polyJet veroblueSLS by shapewayspolyJet White by shapewayspolyJet Clear by shapewayspolyJet Black by shapewaysprint-a-part Invision HR DLP Prototypes ShapeWays White GlazeAnonymous Vendor A polyJetprint23D ABSShapeWays SteelAnonymous Vendor B polyJetRedEyeAnonymous Vendor C DLPc.ideas polyJet veroblue