LINK3D provides software for the additive manufacturing industry, and its latest product is called Digital Factory, which is now available to the public. The company saw success earlier this year with On Demand, a service that connects users with 3D printing service bureaus, and then set out to create a product – using data gathered from On Demand users – that would automate companies’ 3D printing workflows through data and artificial intelligence. That product was Digital Factory, a cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) which allows engineering companies to virtually manage all of their 3D printing processes.
The Digital Factory platform is all about ease and collaboration. One aspect of the platform enables team members to work together in a collaborative virtual setting, optimizing workflows. It’s something like a virtual room or office, where all collaborators can work on a design together, annotating it and communicating back and forth in real time even if they’re in different countries. Once users are satisfied with a part design, a file verification analyzer will determine whether it is suitable for additive manufacturing, while auto-repair technology fixes any errors and ensures printability.
An automatic pricing and secure part ordering tool allows users to directly submit part orders to internal facilities or approved vendors, using LINK3D’s automated pricing technology, with the assurance that their information is protected by 256-bit encryption – military-grade IP security. A digital part inventory management feature offers a centrally located order history and part documentation for real-time manufacturing orders, allowing users to easily re-order or re-bid parts and reduce inventory cost. They can also take advantage of LINK3D’s optimization engine for distributed manufacturing.
LINK3D found that most companies that implement additive manufacturing run into some trouble, having problems with decentralization, disconnected silos, and manual processes that slow down or impede the full-scale adoption of the technology. Digital Factory was designed to help companies break through those issues, providing security, automation, accessibility, and traceability to each connecting point within a company’s 3D printing ecosystem.
The company released the program on the last day of the TCT Show, and 3DPrint.com had a chance to talk to LINK3D CEO Shane Fox about it. Fox was formerly a partner at Within, now part of netfabb, and he has a background in microlattice optimization. Over three years on the road with tech, he noticed a problem – there was no streamlined process for the additive manufacturing industry. That led to the creation of On Demand, in which design engineers could submit RFQs to specialized agencies.The Digital Factory came about when the company decided to create an autonomous workflow tool. So far, it’s going very well, Fox said. It’s mostly an autonomous tool – it’s partly manual because users need to click a few buttons, but it autonomously develops and repairs parts, reducing liability for manufacturing errors. Digital Factory isn’t taking anyone’s job, he added – it’s the middleman in the automation network flow.
“It’s an automated, secure, streamlined workflow software utilizing your data, AI, advanced algorithms to enhance your additive manufacturing ecosystem,” he told us.
LINK3D has reason to be confident that additive manufacturing companies will warm to the platform, and things are going well for the company as a whole. It may be a young company, but its future looks bright, as does the future of Digital Factory.
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