Frequently Asked Questions

Your project

To order an online 3D print : a 3D file, preferably in STL, STEP or IGES format (or failing this a drawing or a sketch with dimensions), the quantity of parts and the type of
required; if you know them, the technology and material you would like, if not, the thermal, mechanical, dimensional, etc. constraints and the end use.

For 3D scanning: send us the item to be scanned or at least photos taken from different angles, as well as the dimensions (x, y, z).

For your mould and injection moulding price enquiries: STEP or IGES files, the required tool life, the material to be injected, the type of mould (pre-production, short run, prototype or mass production), the need for an inspection report, the part finish (mirror polished, polishing on ejection).

You will usually receive quotes for online 3D printing within a few hours.
For more delicate or complex projects, you should allow up to 3 days.
You will receive Metal Sintering and Casting quotes within 5 days.

You will usually receive Study, 3D Scanning, Casting and Tooling quotes within 2 weeks.

INITIAL undertakes not to disclose any information relating to its customers’ projects.

Of course, you can also send us a confidentiality agreement (NDA: Non Disclosure Agreement) to sign.

We regard quality management as one of the keys to our success.

We are EN 9100 and ISO 9001 certified for all our activities.

We also have CIR (Research Tax Credit) and CII (Innovation Tax Credit) accreditations.

All our certifications and accreditations can be downloaded from the Documentation” section.

Our General Terms & Conditions of Sale are available in the Documentation” section.

Our General Purchasing Conditions are available in the Documentation” section.

Our brochure is available in and can be downloaded from the “Documentation” section.

Product design

We use PTC Creo®, CATIA, Solidworks, PRO Simulate and Keyshot.

Our team has extensive experience of designing industrial products, in particular for the medical, household appliances, sports/leisure sectors, etc.

INITIAL will look after the mechanical side of your project and use partner companies for electronics.

We can include design aspects in our quotes, as we work closely with preferred partners for design.

No, we do not file patents but we can put you in touch with a patent agent.

We develop more than 150 products/year.
We manage both projects that last a few days and those that last a few months.
We have a capacity of more than 1000 development hours.

Yes, we have a number of resources at our disposal:

Rapid prototyping using 3D printing, simulation (calculations), risk analysis (e.g.: FMECA).

3D scanning / Inspection / Reverse engineering

For small parts thanks to the GOM ®Small Objects module, we expect accuracy of the order of +/-0.01 mm.
At the other end of the scale, for a 20m long wind turbine rotor we obtain +/-0.6 mm.

Here is the summary table of the tolerances we expect.

We have a very accurate optical scanning system.
The GOM ATOS scanner is perfectly suited to fragile or soft parts, as it works by projecting fringes of light.
If your part is too fragile or too large to be sent to us, or if it is being used in production, we can also come to you and perform scanning on site.

We can scan parts measuring 10 mm using the Small Objects module, but also items several metres long using photogrammetry.

We supply you with an inspection report including a 3D colour map of discrepancies, PDF format screenshots, as well as 3D visualisation and measurement software.
This makes it possible to easily create sections and dimensions at a later date, and to accurately and fully check discrepancies in the scanned geometry.
The entire item and not just a part of it is inspected, covering both its geometry and dimensions.
This highlights, for example, defects associated with plastic injection (sink marks, distortion, burrs, etc.)
Interpretation of the inspection report is performed instantly and is easily understood, even by non-experts.

Creation of a DFN, direct machining a copy of your model, digital archiving, dimensional control, producing a map of discrepancies between the DFN for the actual part and the theoretical DFN.

No, it’s not possible to recreate a complex 3D form from photographs.

The 3D model needs to be created using CAD.

For fragile parts, the ATOS scanner can be used for contactless 3D scanning.

3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing

We talk about rapid, additive or e-manufacturing when 3-dimensional parts are produced using a digital file.
The process is known as “additive” as it is based on production involving depositing layers of material.
We use multiple technologies and numerous 3D printing materials to handle all of your projects.
Check out our entire range of plastic and metal 3D printing technologies.

This technology offers numerous advantages compared to more conventional processes.

  • Time saving: several tens or hundreds or parts in just a few days.
  • Cost-effectiveness: No tooling costs.
  • Flexibility: possibility of developing the product without entailing additional costs: Perfect for customised products or limited editions.
  • Possibility of customising each product and achieving so-called mass production for custom-made parts.
  • Just-in-time production: delivery in a few days, no stock management.

The file formats we can use are:

  • neutral: STL, IGES, STEP
  • native: PRO/E or CATIA V4 or V5.

The file format used for production is STL

For all other file types, please contact us.

If you only have 2D drawings, contact us for an estimate.
We can also carry out 3D modelling, if necessary.

Our technical and commercial team is here to advise you.

We will recommend which process and material you should opt for depending on your final requirement (aesthetic or assembly approval), the number of parts to be produced, your constraints, etc.
Please don’t hesitate to
contact us.

To ensure the highest quality parts, you can avoid faceting by generating your STL file with the smallest possible chord height.

Should the value be too low in relation to the size of the item, the software indicates the minimum value.

We consider that the tolerances that can be obtained with 3D printing are in the reduced tolerance class for standard NFT 58-000.

Our tolerance table for 3D printing is available in the “Documentation” section.

3D powder printing – Sintering (SLS®)

To obtain functional or mechanical proof-of-concept prototypes.

Check out all the characteristics of 3D powder printing.

Take a look at our comparison table of technologies and plastics.

Check out our complete materials catalogue for 3D powder printing.

3D printing of polyamide powder is carried out on machines that are perfect for producing parts requiring a high level of precision or small parts.
Production known as “HD” (High-definition with 0.06 mm layers (60 microns) and a wall thickness of 0.4 mm is possible.

Learn more about HD 3D powder printing.

Average lead time: 3 days


Step 1: Machine production

Step 2: Cooling the parts

Step 3: Modelling

Step 4: Delivery by express carrier.


The lead time may be reduced to 2 days depending on the circumstances and our workload.

Minimum wall thickness: 0.8 mm or 0.4 mm for HD

Layer thickness: 0.15 mm to 0.06 mm.
Feasibility to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Resin 3D printing – Stereolithography

Resin 3D printing is used specifically to produce master models for silicone moulds, prototype parts for approving dimensions, decorative parts and even base parts for chrome electroplating.

Parts produced in resin by 3D printing have an outstanding surface finish and excellent dimensional accuracy.
However, be careful as the parts are relatively fragile.

Check out our complete materials catalogue for resin 3D printing.

Average lead time: 3 days


  • Step 1: Machine production
  • Step 2: Cleaning and modelling
  • Step 3: Delivery by express carrier.


The lead time may be reduced to 2 days depending on the circumstances.

Minimum wall thickness: 0.6 mm

Layer thickness: 0.15 mm.
Feasibility to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Our tolerance table for 3D printing is available in the “Documentation” section.

Filament 3D printing – Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

The process of 3D printing using a filament, also known as fused deposition modelling, offers outstanding geometric stability, which avoids the risk of distortion.
It is perfectly suited to large parts with a stretched surface.
It is possible to create a part in several sections, which are subsequently joined together using epoxy adhesive.

Lead times vary and are directly proportional to the size of parts: between 1 and 10 days.

Check out our complete materials catalogue for filament 3D printing.

Yes, the material is identical, but the ABS filaments melted and deposited in layers create more fragile parts than with injection.

Vacuum casting

15 to 20 parts depending on the material.
However, certain transparent or reinforced, more aggressive materials, often cause premature degradation of the silicone mould.

PU, elastomers and silicones.

Our comparisoncatalogue of vacuum casting materials.

This process produces parts that are: coloured / transparent / impact-resistant / temperature-resistant / bi-material / with insert overmoulding, etc.
The production of short runs is more cost-effective (approx. 20 parts / mould).

Yes, priming is absolutely vital as it minimises ridges and imperfections in the master model and thereby prevents them being reproduced in the cast parts.

Average lead time: 2 weeks.


Step 1: Master model in resin using stereolithography

Step 2: Priming

Step 3: Production of the silicone mould

Step 4: Casting the 1st parts

Step 5: Modelling

Step 6: Painting

Finishes & Paint

Finishes can be applied to all kinds of prototype or mass produced parts made in our workshops.
Our team is here to advise you, please don’t hesitate to
contact us.

All kinds of finishes are conceivable depending on requirements:

  • A single coat of paint (F1)
  • Priming (F2)
  • Priming + sanding + painting (F3)
  • Satin or matt paint with different grains available:
  • Colouring, metallisation (electroplating), tribofinishing, screen printing, transfers, varnish, impregnation, etc.
  • Marking: Laser, pad printing, transfers, screen printing, etc.

Up to around 120° C.


Metal 3D printing

Metal 3D printing or ALM enables parts to be manufactured directly thanks to production by fusing very fine layers of metal powder using a laser (DMLS® – Direct Metal Laser Sintering).
It is particularly suitable for complex or single-piece metal parts with geometries that cannot be machined.

Metal sintering is a technology in its own right and is not a substitution technology.
So parts need to be designed by taking account of the specific aspects of production and possible advantages.

We use high-performance materials.

Check out our complete materials catalogue for metal 3D printing.


  • All kinds of plastics: POM, PA, reinforced PA, PC, PMMA, etc.
  • All copper alloys, aluminium
  • All steels
  • We have a fully-equipped machine shop.

Tooling / Injection moulding

There are a number of solutions for best meeting your requirements, depending specifically on the quantity of parts to be produced, lead times and the quality expected.

Our tooling range offers you 4 types of moulds to satisfy all your requirements.

Check out our tooling solutions for producing your injection moulded parts.

We can handle injection moulding of your parts in runs of between 100 and 100,000 units, depending on the kind of tooling, the geometry of the part and the material injected.