Map Visualizes Service Bureaus Across the U.S.
Early in Additive Manufacturing’s reporting on COVID-19, while U.S. cases were still limited and business was proceeding as usual, I talked with several companies that offer 3D printing services and asked whether they'd seen changes in their business as a result of coronavirus. One told me something I didn't expect: Instead of being hurt by the situation, this company had actually seen increased orders. New customers were reaching out, asking if injection molded plastic parts they previously would have received from Asia could instead be 3D printed.
Their experience wasn’t isolated, it turned out. Even as the virus began to spread, I kept hearing from more and more additive manufacturers who found themselves with new customers and orders. As a result of shipping challenges and supply chain disruptions caused by the outbreak, these companies were making things that otherwise would not have been made in the United States, and in many cases would not have been 3D printed previously.
Additive manufacturers know that 3D printing is a digital, flexible, tooling-less solution that can help in a crisis like this; a 3D printer needs only the part file and the right material to make a part, and files can cross borders quickly and easily even when goods can’t. But it struck me that there could be many more companies out there in need of parts or tooling who didn’t yet see 3D printing as a solution, and may not know where to find industrial 3D printing services even if they did.
Additive Manufacturing has maintained a supplier directory for the past several years, including a list of “parts and tooling services” suppliers. In mid-March, I took this data and used it to create a custom Google Map to show the locations of 3D printing service bureaus across the United States. The map gained traction on LinkedIn, and I began collecting and importing new information several times a day. The map is now a robust tool showing more than 200 3D printing service bureaus who can help print parts, make tooling, reverse engineer replacement components and more. Find it at gbm.media/ammap and embedded below:
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