Element Robot has launched the Skyforge 3D printing service with a new crowdfunding campaign.
Skyforge provides several different services that assist 3D printer operators, the goal being more effective use of your personal 3D printer. Today, despite the courageous efforts of manufacturers, 3D printing workflows remain beyond the tolerance of most consumers. Multiple software packages may be required; file transfers via SD card or USB are frequent; selection of printing parameters may be mystifying. Skyforge hopes to solve those issues.
Specifically, their “cloud manufacturing system” can do these things for you:
- End-to-end management of 3D printing operations. “Print” a 3D model to the cloud and it will be prepped and delivered to your printer. Just make sure the material is loaded and hit “start”.
- Offer your 3D printer for “hire” by the cloud. You can choose to accept print jobs for pay.
- Develop and collaborate on 3D model designs in the cloud with Skyforge’s web-based 3D model sharing tools.
- Monitor print progress remotely if you happen to have a webcam pointed at your 3D printer
- Perform utility operations on your 3D printer, including filament replacement
- Automatically order replacement filament when the cloud determines your stock is low
- Provide sophisticated tools to manage group-shared 3D printers (access, pricing, accounting, payments, etc)
Technically, you’ll be required to have a “Skyhook” set-top box USB-attached to your 3D printer. Skyhook will provide the link between the Skyforge cloud and your device; it even includes a friendly touch interface to control operations. Skyhook will be purchasable or you’ll be able to install the software on your own Raspberry Pi.
While the concept Skyforge implements is sophisticated, it seems quite similar to PrintToPeer’s system, which we covered earlier. Both systems require a Pi-based set-top box and provide a variety of services to assist your 3D printing activities.
For now you can purchase one of three different license types and get going straight away. They currently run a “beta” version of the system that should work for you, if you use a Solidoodle, Ultimaker, MakerBot 4gen or less, Micro 3D or any of a long list of RepRap-style machines.
Do you feel your 3D printing workflow is too complex? Would you invest in a set-top box to cloudify your 3D printing experience?