Kason Knight and the team at i-SOLIDS say they’re a small group of enthusiasts who share a common interest and have a diverse array of knowledge and skills in the 3D printing sphere, and they’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to build a community-driven, 3D printing service they say is unlike any other.
The members of the team boast advanced degrees in engineering and technology, 18+ years of experience in programming and network design, and 10+ combined years of experience with 3D printing technologies.
They hope to provide complete design capabilities and traditional printing services, but their primary goal is to support the 3D printing community with access to professional grade equipment.
The idea revolves around leveraging a hardware and software infrastructure to let users remotely access 3D printing equipment via a secure internet connection. According to i-Solids, it’s essentially the ability to “rent” from a storehouse of 3D printing equipment.
It works like this: download and install printing software to review a dashboard of information about the pros and cons of each type of software, estimate the amount of time needed to print a model, schedule a time to access a printer, and then print the model. The portal will also allow users to watch their models print.
Throughout the process, users will be able to review documentation for each printer and various materials, receive notifications at many points during the process and estimate print times and costs.
If the Kickstarter is successful, there will eventually be a small fee charged to cover the costs associated with operating the server, maintaining accounts, and providing technical support.
The project is designed to accommodate casual and frequent users through a set of three membership options from a free standard user option to annual membership options which will offer scheduling and printing advantages. The printing fees are earmarked to pay for print materials, monitoring, and equipment maintenance.
The system also includes detailed invoicing sent out after prints are completed.
The idea behind i-Solids was born in August 2014 when a group of engineers and software programmers came together to work on the concept. The process included formalizing the development process and seeking feedback from potential users, defining operating requirements to create a functional prototype.
The team say the initial release will provide users access to Flashforge Dreamer printers, and as the project proceeds, the service offering will expand to include a wide array of 3D printer manufacturers, material types, and performance specifications.
The service is intended to be “a user controlled remote 3D printing infrastructure that is easy to use, reliable, and secure.”
“We want to create a solid foundation so we have decided to open our test environment with the public so that we can promote the concept and start obtaining user feedback,” states the Kickstarter page. “There are a lot of companies that provide services that will create and ship 3D prints. These services generally come at an elevated cost due to the personnel overhead. At i-SOLIDS. we eliminate this major expense and pass the savings back to you by allowing you to take over during that creation process.”
At this stage, users can create a standard user account, explore the scheduling interface, and even make trial runs of the remote printing process using a basic inkjet printer.
The cost is expected to be between $3.50 and $5.75 per hour depending on the printer. That cost does not include membership fees and shipping.
As 3D printing becomes more accessible to users, service bureaus will become increasingly competitive. What do you think about the Kickstarter campaign for i-Solids? Let us know in the i-Solids forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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