Mark Forg3D’s carbon fiber printer
is a definitely a revolutionary concept, but that wasn’t the only feature that really impressed us. The other sleeper feature of the Mark One is its software.
But wait, you say, every 3D printer includes software to drive the printer. That’s true, but Mark Forg3D’s software is cloud based. There is no standalone software available or planned.
The path of your data is somewhat more complicated than standalone slicing software: From your computer to the cloud server; from the cloud server to your 3D printer. Your 3D printer must be network connected to receive print jobs.
Why cloud? First, the usual reasons for cloud solutions apply here too:
- Cross platform is achieved without any effort. The software automatically works with modern browsers on virtually any OS or platform
- Software upgrades and feature implementations are immediate and painless for both user and Mark Forg3D. Just upgrade the server software and everyone automatically gets it
But there are many implications of cloud-based slicing software for 3D printers:
- The processing power required for very complex models can be almost instantly dispatched in the cloud. Very complex models can be processed on very slow machines in no time at all
- Many users can simultaneously slice models for your machine
- Sliced models can be queued up in the cloud, waiting for an opportunity to be transmitted to your 3D printer
- Detailed 3D printing statistics can be gathered and reported
- Prints can be scheduled for specific dates and times
- Prints can be queued up for machines that aren’t yours!
Most curiously, the Mark Forg3D software also works from a command line interface! This means you can create new applications that use the cloud service for unusual and innovative functions.
We think there are many more implications of cloud slicing. For example, Mark Forg3D could easily create a “try and buy” service whereby you use their software directly and learn all about it. Printing would take place on a factory machine and the result is couriered to you. We also see unique ways that service bureaus could make use of cloud slicing.
It’s the future. But for now, Mark Forg3D considers their software still at alpha level. That’s ok because their machine is not available until June 1st.