Skyforge, Cloud 3D Printing Workflow Service & Skyhook Hardware Device Launches Crowdfunding Campaign
When it comes to home based 3D printers, we have been seeing a tremendous amount of innovation and intelligence go into a movement that is bringing us more affordable, easier to use machines. With this said, the useability of a typical 3D printer is still a long way off from welcoming in the masses. There are still so many technical, design, and software processes required by the end user, in order to 3D print an object, that many people still remain on the sidelines.
A company called Element Robot hopes to change this, with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign, for a service called Skyforge, and a piece of hardware that they refer to as Skyhook. By utilizing cloud technology, they want to provide a way for someone of any experience level to be able to log onto the service, select a design, and send it to a 3D printer, whether that printer is in their home, at a nearby library, or halfway across the globe.
Skyhook, is a little Wifi enabled control box that connects to a 3D printer via USB. It then becomes a hub for 3D printing objects using that printer. The Skyhook can be modified, via the internet, to allow access to certain individuals and companies, or even left open for anyone to access. When combined with their service, Skyforge, users are presented with an end-to-end complete 3D printing workflow process.
Skyforge is what Element Robot refers to as their “cloud manufacturing system”. It allows users to print out their own designs, using the innovative 3D printing workflow, and not have to spend time learning to configure software. It allows owners of 3D printers to connect their printers to the cloud, via Skyhook, and opens the possibilies of generating revenue in doing so. Makerspaces, libraries, universities, shops, fablabs, etc., can all enable their communities to collaborate and print different objects, without having to teach them the ins and outs of slicing, designing, creating gcode, or anything else that typically can complicate the 3D printing process.
Administrators of the 3D printers have the ability to totally customize their printer’s permission. They can approve/deny prints, provide print credits to each of their users, allow staff members to oversee the use of the printer(s), etc. It also gives institutions the ability to specifically control access, set prices for utilization of their printer(s), create an easy to use payment and refund process, and account for and monitor usage. Skyforge will even set up a system that knows when a printer is almost out of filament, and ship more filament to that needed location.
“Skyforge is the best interface you can get for the 3D printing process. Weleverage existing 3D printer hardware and we combine it with a wonderful online workflow and a simple cloud management system,” said Chris Walker, CEO of Element Robot.
Other great features provided by Skyforge include:
- Ability to invite friends to collaborate on a design.
- Save and access designs from anywhere in the world, via the internet.
- Connect designs to metadata, such as versions, projects, trends, tags, design files, manufacturing settings, and more.
- Create a design history automatically, when a revised file is uploaded.
- Monitor the 3D printing process, with the ability to connect a webcam.
Skyforge will launch with 3 different pricing levels, as seen in the chart below:
The company is looking to raise at least $30,000 via their Kickstarter campaign, which runs from today until July 30th. If all goes as planned and they are successfully funded, test units will begin shipping in October, early backer units in November, and Skyhook & ‘Skyforge Complete’ beginning to ship in December.
Element Robot is a company that was founded in February of 2014 and closed a seed financing round in May. The team includes Chris Walker, CEO; John Feusi, CTO; and Jonathan Staab, Lead Developer. Once the Kickstarter campaign ends, the company hopes to bring Skyforge to more types of 3D printers. “The company’s objective is making additive manufacturing accessible and effective,” they explain.
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