Sculpteo provided this demonstration sample for me to keep at no cost to aid in my honest review of their product and service.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of talk about 3D printing. I’ve seen examples from the plainest of plain to really cool product prototypes printed on 3D printers, but I’ve never tried any of the companies that offer 3D printing… until now. As a demonstration of what they can do, online 3D printing company, Sculpteo created a miniature sculpture of me using just a couple photos I had my wife take in our hallway.
Not bad, huh? If the reaction I got on Facebook is any indicator, this mini-me was a home run, but I’ll bet what you really want to know is how to get one and how much it costs. Keep reading.
How To Print In 3D
There are several ways to print in 3D with Sculpteo. The one I’m most familiar with, of course, is the method I used. Just take a forward facing photo and a profile and upload them. Include any notes you have about your design, approve the 3D render they create for you, and wait about 10 days. If you want a mini sculpture of yourself (or one of someone else as a gift), this is a good way to get it done with no fuss. They even picked up on the JoeTech shirt I was wearing and my sculpture’s shirt says JOETECH on it in teeny tiny letters. Great detail. Below is an example of the photos I sent in and the results.
Other methods of printing from Sculpteo can vary quite a bit. You can sift through their gallery of models online and pick something out for the easiest route or you can create your own 3D models or buy one online to use and have something much more personal. Along the way, you can also choose materials and opt for a plain white sculpture or lots of color, and even customize the size. The web interface is done very well, so it’s easy to choose. The only problem I had was that as I’m not experienced in 3D printing, I was, at first, a little confused about what materials I had to choose from.
How Much Does 3D Printing Cost
The figure I got was 2.8 inches tall (7cm) and would have cost me $74.89. A larger version standing 3.9 inches tall (10cm) would have run me $129.90. Bulk orders get discounts. 10 units took my price (for the smaller figure) from $74.89 down to about $67.40 each. 100 units came out to just under $60 each and that price seemed constant even at 1,000 units.
That might be a little much for a casual birthday or Christmas gift, so I poked around the site and played with the pricing and design tools to see what other pricing was possible. I picked out a Manga Girl design and found that the pricing could go anywhere from just $3.66 for a one inch tall model with or without color all the way up to $1,133 for a color 12 inch model ($900 for no color). Interestingly, you can have that same model printed at a tenth of the price of the 12 inch size by just dropping down to 4 inches tall. When building your own model, definitely play with the size and any other options to get the most for your money.
Free Key Ring
I found out about this Free key ring offer while browsing around the site. You have to pay for the shipping, but it will still be pretty cool to get a free key ring, printed in 3D from any model I want to upload. I loaded up one of the 3D models from the gallery and got it all linked up, although I must say that the process of trying to link the key ring to the 3D model I chose was a confusing and tedious chore. I’m still not sure how it works, but it may be child’s play to someone who works with 3D models all the time. In any case, $6 shipping paid via PayPal has my otherwise free key ring on its way.
Other than my inability to work well with 3D models, the user experience of the site was really pretty good and the shipping time is decent. The costs can be super cheap to just scary and anywhere in between, so figuring out your size and budget should happen probably even before building your 3D model. The free key ring is a great way to get your hands on some sample product before spending money, too. From cool little gifts to professional prototyping, Sculpteo’s printing range should fit most needs.