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Who is the most reputable rapid prototyper in Silicon Valley?

I am making a small, physical device, fairly simple, not creating any type of software...please advise, thank you!

6 Replies

David Maltz
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David Maltz Advisor
Strategic advisor and consultant for medical device and digital health development & innovation
Two good choices are Fathom in Oakland studioFATHOM.com and ProtoCafe in Redwood City www.PROTOCAFE.com. Are you looking for just fabrication of parts, or also the design (from the proverbial napkin sketch?)
Gabor Nagy
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Gabor Nagy Entrepreneur
Founder / Chief architect at Skyline Robotics
There is also Hawk Ridge Systems in Santa Clara.
However, no one I could find in Silicon Valley (or anywhere else) can touch shapeways.com in cost, 3D printing tech and choice of materials.
Their Web site is light years ahead of anybody else.
You can upload your model, analyze / tweak it, see potential issues in a matter of minutes, choose material and see the cost right away, then "add to cart".
Most of the other 3D printing services still live in the "stone age" and want you to email the model and "ask for a quote".
By the time you'd get a quote from the other guys, shapeways would already have your part building in their 3D printer.
They can do SLS for plastic and now aluminium (We only use SLS. I refuse to waste my time with support structures).
But the real killer feature of Shapeways is that their software is orders of magnitude more robust than other services.
You don't even need to upload a closed manifold mesh! You can literally just stick the pieces together without doing a "boolean union".
This speeds up the iteration a lot.
I try using other services once in a while and much of the time they fail with a useless error message with the same file that I've already printed fine with Shapeways!
No, I don't work for Shapeways and I don't get a commission.
:)
We use Shapeways a lot for our robot etc. and I keep begging them to open a shop in the Bay Area...
At least they have a shop in New York now, so they don't have to ship from Europe...

Leena Chitnis, MBA
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Leena Chitnis, MBA Entrepreneur • Advisor
Content & Publication Manager at NetApp
Thank you Gabor and David! David, I'm looking for fabrication AND design (yes, from napkins and scraps of paper and receipts)! I need somewhere local to go where I can work hands on with the prototypers and see what is being printed and literally do the turnaround revisions right there in the office. Shapeways sounds amazing but they're in NY. Santa Clara sounds closer to me, as I live in Santa Cruz county...there has to be some prototypers here in Santa Cruz area, as it's got a burgeoning tech scene...
Gabor Nagy
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Gabor Nagy Entrepreneur
Founder / Chief architect at Skyline Robotics
You're welcome. If you need help with design, I might be able to help out. I've been doing very complex designs for 3D printing for several years and have developed my own 3D CAD/CAM, animation software (EQUINOX-3D).
I'm in San Mateo, CA.
Do you have organic shapes or is it more like "numerical CAD" stuff (straight(ish) lines + a few curves + bevels / fillets)?
Cheers

Leena Chitnis, MBA
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Leena Chitnis, MBA Entrepreneur • Advisor
Content & Publication Manager at NetApp
Gabor it's organic shapes...and I am seeking a business partner at the moment!
Gabor Nagy
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Gabor Nagy Entrepreneur
Founder / Chief architect at Skyline Robotics
Hi Leena. Sounds good. You're welcome to contact me through LinkedIn, so we can discuss the details.

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