A new 3D print service hopes to raise the bar for part quality and delivery: CloudDDM.
CloudDDM, which stands for “Direct Digital Manufacturing”, operates in a manner similar to most 3D print services: you upload a 3D model, select materials, quantities and other properties, whereupon they print and deliver you the printed results.
The difference is in how they’ve organized their system to deliver optimum results in the fastest time possible.
One of the founders of CloudDDM (and current CEO), Mitch Free, was the originator of MFG.COM, a site providing a means of connecting those requiring manufacturing services. Free observed that while existing 3D print services could provide small quantities of 3D prints in reasonable and consistent quality, they could not do so at higher volumes.
And delivery of the printed parts was often slow.
Enter CloudDDM, designed to solve these issues.
For quality, the service uses:
An automated additive manufacturing system built on proprietary additive technology. Currently our system is designed to support parts created using fused deposition modeling, or FDM.
This sounds suspiciously like Stratasys’ line of 3D printers, which actually use the trademarked term, “FDM”.
Here we see an image of the CloudDDM print head, which sports a warning label pretty much identical to what you’d see on a Stratasys FDM machine. We would not be surprised if CloudDDM's machines are somehow manufactured by Stratasys.
CloudDDM’s printers use “ABS, Polycarbonate, Polycarbonate-ABS, and ULTEM1010” materials, which coincidentally are also the key materials used on Stratasys FDM machines. But CloudDDM suggests they are custom made, so we’ll go with that.
They’ve organized these machines into “cells”, that are digitally connected for optimizing workflow. Their intent is to run the machines 24 hours a day through sophisticated queuing mechanisms. This “factory” is thus able to rapidly crank out uniformly made parts at high rates of speed.
For delivery, CloudDDM has very strategically located their print farm within a UPS Worldport. A Worldport is a cargo hub. Here’s how it normally works: a package is flown from the source to the Worldport. It’s then sorted, placed on a second plane and then flown to the destination. Within two flights, a package (possibly of parts) can be anywhere.
But here’s the brilliant part: CloudDDM is located AT the hub, meaning they require only ONE flight to get a bundle of parts to the destination. This saves, they say, around six hours of time. We suspect their queuing system also shaves off considerable processing time, too.
Currently the service is in beta mode, but there seems to be serious money behind this venture. If their system works, it could provide quite a shakeup to the remainder of the growing part printing industry.