Canadian Startup Uses Mass Customization Software Platform to Personalize 3D Printed Products
We generally like having our items and tools personalized, which is why 3D printing technology is so often used for mass customization. A Canadian startup called Caboma, which was founded in 2015, is on a mission to provide digital solutions to forward-thinking companies looking to use mass customization to gain a competitive advantage.
The team is led by CEO for Business Development and Product Development Jean-Philippe Carmona, M.Sc; CTO and software development leader Jonathan Borduas; and COO/CFO Julien Arnaud. Caboma is made up of a dozen engineers, mathematicians, and software developers, and in 2016 launched its SpecifX software platform, which is, as far as the company knows, the only mass customization software currently on the market.
The platform interprets consumers’ information, be it DICOM images, 3D or X-ray scans, or even their personal preferences, and automatically adapts a device to the information. So SpecifX will take the 3D model of your product, so long as it’s been designed in a CAD software, and personalize it instantly so it matches customer specifications. This saves time and money by streamlining operations, and helps customers take advantage of the many benefits that 3D printing offers, such as topology optimization and improved prototyping.
“Our original mission was offering consulting work in additive manufacturing for industrial companies,” Carmona tells 3DPrint.com. “Personally, I had worked in additive at Bombardier Aerospace for 3 years prior to founding Caboma and with my partner Jonathan we had gathered an unique expertise in design for AM and metal AM in general.”
At first, the startup helped medical companies develop several interesting, patient-specific products, which were all custom designed to a patient’s digital image and 3D printed. Unfortunately, most never made it to the market, which Carmona believes is due to the fact that “the design power required to digitally customize them was too labor-intensive using regular CAD software.”
“After 3 clients came with that problem, we decided to develop a software that would be dedicated to mass customization, therefore reducing cost associated with the generation of custom 3D models,” Carmona told us. “Starting the project with a couple potential clients in our pocket helped in the success of this venture.”
OssKin, a Canadian orthopedic company and Caboma’s first client, used the first version of the SpecifX platform to develop its Evoke knee brace. The patient’s legs are 3D scanned at a clinic, and the scan is sent to the Caboma server, along with a form of the patient’s medical information. SpecifX automatically adapts a generic digital model of of the brace, and then, using the form and the 3D scan, develops a custom digital model, which is sent to an SLS 3D printer for fabrication, and later assembled.
Carmona explained to 3DPrint.com, “Without SpecifX, customizing each individual knee brace took around 2h30 of CAD handling by a CAD specialist.”
By using scalable SpecifX software, OssKin was able to come up with a much better solution for its brace, which takes less than 10 minutes to customize. SpecifX features easy monitoring and quality control, and its powerful algorithms can handle just about any shape or part you can think of, which goes hand in hand with the geometrical freedom that 3D printing allows.
The platform is made for production, but comes with a simple user interface that a non-engineer can comfortably use, increasing control and productivity. It also has all of its customization tools grouped together in the same solution – no more switching back and forth between multiple software apps.
“Our engineering team also has a lot of knowledge in mass customization and additive manufacturing,” Carmona told us. “For most of our projects, co-development is necessary and we help our clients developing a product that really give them a competitive edge. Whether it is CAD design, product optimization, simulation, prototyping, we have the resources to assist.”
By working together with Caboma, OssKin was able to develop its Evoke knee brace into a disruptive product, capable of an “unparalleled level of personalization.” Thanks to the SpecifX software platform, OssKin has sold nearly 2,000 of its knee braces across the US and Canada.
Caboma likely isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The startup, which has raised over $100,000 in grants from different Canadian organizations, is currently in discussions with major shoe manufacturers, and also won the prestigious Adopt Inc award, which earned Caboma a mentorship with the Desjardins Group, the largest credit union in the Americas. It is looking for more partnerships in the medical device industry, and its future target markets are in wearables and sporting equipment; Carmona tells us that the startup is in “advanced discussions with some sports equipment manufacturers” to develop custom products.
As for Caboma’s greater vision?
“Democratization of 3D scanners (reaching our smartphones in 2-3 generations) and the recent developments in additive technologies creates a very favorable context for manufacturers to create customized products. Imagine, scanning your new kitchen with your phone, sending the data to your favorite Swedish ready-to-assemble furniture manufacturer and receive a custom kit that fits perfectly your new kitchen. Or going to a sports shoe retailer, get your feet scanned and receive perfectly-fitting customized running shoes,” Carmona told 3DPrint.com.
“At a large scale, the limitation of this model is the gap between 3D data (the foot, the kitchen) and the 3D product (the shoe, the furniture) that needs to be fast, robust and user-friendly. That’s where Caboma comes with solutions.”
Caboma is a company on the rise, and we are eager to watch its journey continue.
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