Looking through the full spectrum of manufacturing, from cavemen’s simplistic but effective hand tools to Henry Ford’s first large-scale assembly line, we can see a number of industrial revolutions. The next one is already out of the gate, as additive manufacturing stands poised to revolutionize the future of industry.
As we go further into the 21st century, makers have developed new ideas about what this time period needs, and high on the list of priorities is manufacturing that caters to this developing world. A new project, created by Michael Stephen Crickmore, is up on Kickstarter now seeking crowdfunding for this “open source factory designed for the 21st century.” CloudPrint is ready to get up and running, and all it needs is some help from Kickstarter. The recently-launched project runs through February 16th and has a £50,000 goal.
“Redefining the manufacturing industry through 3D printing,” boasts Crickmore’s tagline for CloudPrint.
CloudPrint (not to be confused with Google’s Cloud Print, which focuses on standard 2D desktop printer connectivity) strives to connect global companies to one facility wherein products can be 3D printed to order. The facility is intended to be placed in a developing nation — such as in Africa, South America, or Asia — where large populations and rising markets make all manufacturing operations pretty appealing.
Crickmore describes the CloudPrint facility as a fully capable production center:
“The facility will be designed to produce products from medical supplies to construction tools and consumer goods. 3D printing has and will continue advancing in its capabilities, therefore our services will continue to be improved.
The facility will be open source, meaning that firms from across the globe can order and create their products online from the comfort of their home market. All the machines, the availability, etc will be accessed on the CloudPrint website for all registered companies.”
CloudPrint seeks to utilize its facility to get away from the conventional model of overseas marketing that often requires producers to either build plants in new markets or export their products internationally, both of which come at high costs. Crickmore intends to “offer a discounted cost structure to enable firms to sell in foreign markets, without the need for large capital investments.” This technique can keep companies focused on their product and their bottom line, without worrying about high spending for expansion.
The plan for CloudPrint is to lease their facility and the industrial-scale 3D printers to fill it, and operate via a web portal. Crickmore plans to expand the operation as it becomes financially viable — the pricing structure for the CloudPrint portal will cover the production and materials costs, as well as a markup for the service. Expansion plans include upgrading the 3D printers in use at the facility as well as the introduction of additional facilities. CloudPrint’s business operations will be UK-based, while its production hub(s) will reside overseas.
A key concern for CloudPrint’s overseas-based manufacturing locations is that many of the areas Crickmore has his eye on tend to be disaster-prone. CloudPrint intends to partner with charities that will assist in the types of disasters common in the selected area (e.g., health, flooding, food shortages) and the facility will have the capability to rapidly produce necessary tools — including tools, syringes, and shelter. CloudPrint seems to have joint goals of benefitting both businesses and local concerns.
While the CloudPrint scheme seems to focus on businesses, Crickmore is sure to clarify that the operation will be open to small- and large-scale endeavors alike. When a potential backer asked if DIYers and makers would be able to use CloudPrint’s services, Crickmore responded that, “The technology will also be available to all clients to use, whatever the size of the project.”
The Kickstarter campaign runs through mid-February, after which — if successfully funded — CloudPrint will set up a pilot project and get the administration in place, as well as develop a client base. Larger partnerships will hopefully follow a successfully launched pilot project as CloudPrint seeks to get its first full production facility online. Incentives for backers include a 3D printed CloudPrint logo, backer’s name on the website, or an invitation to the CloudPrint launch.
Does CloudPrint seem a viable business model? Let us know if this type of global manufacturing method strikes your fancy over at the CloudPrint forum thread on 3DPB.com.