The database compiled by Senvol was designed to capture information about additive manufacturing’s machines and materials in a way that is searchable in a variety of categories. This means that someone accessing the database can look for products with particular characteristics such as build size or material tensile strength. As the world of 3D printing grows, these kinds of databases become more and more helpful as they centralize all the information you need and, more importantly, only the information you need.
The idea behind a database such as this one is that while it takes a significant amount of time and effort to build, when spread out in relation to the time saved for users searching for information, the initial temporal investment is repaid a thousand fold. Think of it in this context, a Google search for “3D printing materials” (in quotes) yields 302,000 results. Many of these results are duplicates, but the one that you might be looking for could be 47,000 or 325 on the list, meanwhile you have to wade through a number of more or less relevant results and search each website individually.
This isn’t the only database of its kind in existence, although it may be the most complete and have the most search parameters, but what is particularly interesting about Senvol is that it is now available as an API.
This adorable acronym is short for Application-Programming Interface, which is a very specific type of web tool that allows one web site to access another’s web-based software application via a set of programming instructions and a shared set of standards. When I want to understand what that means, I head over to How Stuff Works, where they provided this example to clarify:
“An API is a software-to-software interface, not a user interface. With APIs, applications talk to each other without any user knowledge or intervention. When you buy movie tickets online and enter your credit card information, the movie ticket Web site uses an API to send your credit card information to a remote application that verifies whether your information is correct. Once payment is confirmed, the remote application sends a response back to the movie ticket Web site saying it’s OK to issue the tickets.”
What this means is that the owner of a website can incorporate the Senvol database into the architecture of their own site, much like Amazon already does with many websites. With the Amazon web tool, a person visiting the website can click on the products offered by Amazon and purchase them directly without having to visit it as a separate site.
The materials in Senvol’s database can be searched not only by name or supplier, but also by their material properties, hardness shore scale, thermal properties, physical properties, and/or certifications and tests (such as flammability or USP Class VI). The machines can also be searched by make or model, as well as additive manufacturing process, material type, minimum size of the build envelope, or machine price.
The search is free or you can license the database and access it through an API which offers the benefits of access to the raw data, use or manipulation of the data to meet company needs, and automatic updates as the database grows and evolves.
Let us know your thoughts on this latest release in the Senvol Database Forum thread on 3DPB.com.