The latest player on the scene of distributed manufacturing networks is CloudFab by GearHeadz. Currently in Beta testing stage they seek to democratize access to 3D printing with a fairly broad range of processes seemingly at their disposal ranging from Fused Deposition Modeling, through Selective Laser Sintering to Direct Metal Printing. Their site also has a concise run down and comparison of the processes available. Their terms of service are transparent with no commission taken for orders under $100, which to me indicates they are pitching less towards the prosumer/maker market and more towards the engineering side of things? but maybe not, check out their manifesto..
In the beginning, humans fashioned all their possessions with their own skills – ones they learned from their community. Over time certain members specialized in the art of making things – thus began the age of the artisan. Trade specialization increased to the point where each trade became a science. These tradesmen began to develop all kinds of tricks to make their tasks easier — the industrial revolution began. As they further automated their tasks they vastly increased the efficiency of production — thus began the age of mass production.
This trend toward automation continues in our time, however there is a storm gathering in the distance. A storm that will wash away many of the paradigms of the past and bring us back to some of the roots of our humanity. Techniques that were once only available to a select few are coming within the reach of all of us. As technology becomes more ubiquitous, the ability to shape your own reality increases. This democratization of innovation allows nearly anyone with an idea to solve their own problems and realize their own dreams – thus begins the age of mass customization.
These trends are all culminating to form the perfect storm of achieving these ends. A vast reservoir of spare capacity exists waiting to be tapped by latent demand. Digital fabrication techniques now allow us the standardization and consistency to remotely produce unique, high quality parts and devices. The internet allows us all to share files, tools, and techniques that foster innovation without requiring vast sums of money. All of this – and at the same time the population is growing tired of mass produced goods that only superficially connect with them and their lives.
At CloudFab, we believe strongly in this movement, and so we’ve developed this platform to enable those with the fabrication equipment to share their machines with the greater public. We hope our service will be one step towards the goal of truly personal fabrication. Now the journey begins.
Thanks to SolidSmack