3YOURMIND announced a significant investment in the startup company.
They’re to receive a healthly €1.3M (US$1.5M) in investment from the Investment Bank of Berlin and the European Regional Development Fund. 3YOURMIND says the money will be used to “improve machine learning” in the 3YOURMIND software suite. But what exactly does that mean?
Time for some speculation.
The Berlin-based company launched several years ago with an online order management system specialized for additive manufacturing purposes. At that time, and still today, this is an issue for 3D print operations. With services investing huge amounts into industrial 3D printers, it’s important to keep them running 24/7 as efficiently as possible to maximize their revenue. 3YOURMIND’s initial services helped meet those goals.
3YOURMIND AM Part Identifier
But more recently they announced a related but quite different service: the AM Part Identifier. The idea here is that a manufacturing company might have thousands, perhaps even millions of part designs in their portfolio. If said company wishes to commence 3D printing operations, with which of those millions of parts should they begin?
It turns out that not all part designs are suitable for 3D printing. Some will have pathological geometries that are incompatible with particular 3D printing processes or materials. Others might be printable, yet more cheaply made with conventional making technologies. How can a company sift through their design inventory to pick out the printable items?
That’s what 3YOURMIND’s AM Part Identifier does. It literally rips through 3D models and classifies them into printable or not. Then a company can more expertly start their 3D printing experience, as opposed to others that learn the hard way, by trial and error.
With those two services in mind, what might 3YOURMIND say about this new investment? They explain:
“3YOURMIND will use the Pro FIT funding to add artificial neural networks (ANNs) into their software. ANNs are the leading approach for programming challenges which have little or no explicit, systematic knowledge available. As a relatively young industry, additive manufacturing is still developing process documentation and best practice techniques for industrial-scale production. This is especially true when looking at serial additive manufacturing.”
ANNs are most useful in pattern recognition. With multiple inputs, they are able to learn classification schemes through a training period and then quickly perform classifications afterwards. It’s quite literally training a machine to “recognize” something.
3YOURMIND Training Data
I suspect at this point 3YOURMIND has a significant amount of test data at their disposal from the initial operations of the AM Part Identifier from their clients. From this data they could then train the service’s new ANN to recognize more types of parts even more quickly.
The suspicion is that their existing AM Part Identifier is likely not identifying ALL the printable parts, and is only picking out the easily found items, as its algorithms are no doubt less capable than an ANN.
I cannot say exactly what, but it’s quite probable that 3YOURMIND has a percentage of printable parts they are tracking towards. Perhaps today their existing system can identify, say, half of the actually printable parts in an inventory, and with ANNs they hope to boost that percentage to some higher level, eventually reaching 100%.
Demand for Additive Manufacturing Increases
While this may seem to be a minor announcement, I think it is actually quite important. If 3YOURMIND can properly develop their machine learning systems, we may see their clients suddenly interested in 3D printing far more parts than they had previously thought.
This could be very important for a company that hopes to convert physical inventory into digital inventory; keep the 3D models and print on demand, rather than producing hordes of physical spare parts that may or may not be used in the future.
All of this will be welcome news to both 3D print services, who may receive more business from these businesses, and 3D printer manufacturers, who might sell more 3D printers to either the customers themselves or the 3D print services involved.
Demand for 3D printing is always rising, and its developments like this that silently push it even higher.