Offshoring, Insourcing or Outsourcing RP Services: Which Is Best?

By TriMech on

When it comes to completing an engineering or design project, it can be difficult to decide on the best and most efficient approach to take. The decision to offshore, insource or outsource Rapid Prototyping Services should be determined on a project-by-project basis and by the resources available to your team. Below, we take a look at each route and discuss advantages and disadvantages of offshoring, outsourcing or insourcing.


Offshoring is defined as moving your Rapid Prototyping work overseas or far away from your headquarters. Depending on the project, offshoring may have different pros and cons.

Pros to Offshoring:

Rapid Prototyping Printed Garmin

There are a few situations in which offshoring is a great option – the biggest draw being cost. Labor rates in many foreign countries, take India and China for example, are much lower than in the United States. If cost is the driving factor and the project requires repetition, outshoring may be the cheapest solution. Another scenario where offshoring may make sense is if your target market is overseas. In this case, it could be valuable to hire engineers, designers and Rapid Prototyping Services that are local to the area.

Cons to Offshoring:

Offshoring does not come without challenges. Although labor costs may be cheaper, cultural barriers, different languages, business customs and time zones can pose as challenges when working with other countries. With Rapid Prototyping Services in particular, hands-on contact with the project is often crucial. Especially on projects that require multiple iterations, you want to be able to communicate expectations and requirements quickly and efficiently.


Outsourcing rapid prototyping may consist of partnering with another service provider. Here are some of the common advantages and disadvantages associated with contracting RP services out-of-house.

Pros to Outsourcing:

Closeup rapdid prototyping part

Outsourcing is becoming increasingly popular for companies that have one-off 3D printing projects, need to balance their work load or don’t have the necessary hardware in-house. Outsourcing is a valuable way to lower overhead costs, gain access to the best resources and increase your firm’s flexibility. Plus, Rapid Prototyping Service providers typically have the ability to implement projects efficiently and can provide a quicker turnaround with the newest and most up-to-date technology. This is a great option for firms that cannot justify purchasing their own 3D printers or who need more resources at their disposal.

>> Download our Beginner’s Guide to TriMech RP Services

Cons to Outsourcing:

Similar to offshoring, there are always communication risks when working with a third party service provider. Choosing the wrong RP services partner can lead to lack of trust and lack of quality control. To avoid these cons, be sure to ask the right questions and do your homework before outsourcing your RP Services.


Insourcing is defined as having an employed and full-time team of employees that are responsible for completing a firm’s design projects in-house.

Pros to Insourcing:

With an in-house 3D printing team, companies can work closely with employees and oversee their projects. Having an in-house team also allows for continuity and easy access to facilities and team members.

>> Watch Our Video on Advantages of In-House 3D Printing

Cons to Insourcing:

Not all companies can justify the costs associated with hiring a 3D printing team, training the team, buying a 3D printer and stocking-up on materials. While there are several benefits of investing in a 3D printer, there are also one-off projects and overflow work that would be better invested in RP services.

Wondering if outsouring is for you? Watch our on-demand webinar to see what TriMech RP Services has to offer to your workflow.