What if you could add 3D printers to the network just the same as desktop PCs are linked to a server and create an easy to use workflow management interface that works across the majority of OEM 3D printers and helps to manage users print cues, design files and track the material expenses from one central platform?
This idea marks the beginning of John Dogru and Anton Vedeshin’s journey. The two men who met in Estonia, recount today the beginnings of 3DPrinterOS.
Put simply, 3DPrinterOS is an operating system that enables the management of multiple slicers and software on one platform. The system takes into account every aspect of 3D printing and advanced manufacturing workflows. It addresses the fragmentation of many disparate 3D printers and their associated software.
“It got us very excited. But the issue was the current software, it was very hard to use and very clunky. And none of those printers were on the network,” recounts Dogru, CEO and Founder of 3DPrinterOS, “but we thought ‘what if we could put them on the network and improve the software so thousands of users could use this at scale?’.
That’s what they did. Today, the team is responsible for thousands of users in the cloud. They normalize printer workflow a queue management and offer their customers real-time insight into utilization and cost.
“A 3D printer is best used as a shared resource. We saw all these purchased printers collecting dust in maker spaces across the country, or worse, how people were using them was like in the dark ages of the internet.”, said Vedeshin, CTO of 3DPrinterOS.
“Most people were used to walking up to the machine, inserting a SD card, begin the prep through the little LCD panel and start to get the print job ready and hit print. And sometimes you would have to actually change some of the settings and temperatures on the printer.”
For Dogru, this modus operandi would have led to some limitations in the long-run. To prevent that, he and his team decided to gamble on cloud technology.
Gambling on cloud technology
With a PhD in cloud computing and cyber defense, Vedeshin was uniquely positioned to develop a platform that would have enabled users to print from any web browser, while removing the need for any OEM and offline printer management software.
“If you can imagine having 10 different computers back in the day with 10 different software packages, they don’t talk to each other. They don’t communicate. And as a result, you really can’t scale to hundreds or thousands of users. We completely solved this”, said the CTO.
Their solution raises the interest of the smaller 3D printer market in general, as well as several universities. As they were willing to invest extra miles in what they can bring to this market, the team decided to implement a dedicated solution for high-end industrial 3D printers.
However, in the long run, the two entrepreneurs strongly believe that the market that will certainly benefit the most from this solution is the market of machines that do not require post-processing.
As per the words of the founders, those printers are the future of manufacturing, one click print and get the exact product that you intended without post-processing.
It’s much more than workflow efficiency…This is the big challenge
Handling a cloud technology solution will make you encounter somehow security issues, and to a certain extent, intellectual property issues.
Vedeshin takes the example of people who work on the platform: “If you fire and hire people, the access to those files and designs and the tracking of all the data from end to end, is very important. Right now, there are too many access points in the way 3D printers are managed manually, in the cloud it’s far more secure. We had to test this with the Navy to prove our security model.”
As the industry is growing at a fast pace, there is a growth of localized manufacturing hubs that can produce parts on demand, which makes the market head to a twelve trillion-dollar manufacturing industry.
“The future is decentralized manufacturing and our cloud software will be driving this”, Dogru.
3DPrinterOS has already convinced a few big names of the industry of the capabilities of their solution. They include Google, MIT, US Navy, Bosch Dremel, NASA and Microsoft, to name a few of them, as well as tens of University maker spaces.
The company can also now support private clouds that are on Amazon or Microsoft and even different proprietary clouds, with the ability to synchronize different servers offering integration with SAP and other ERP vendors.
“The saying that software will eat the world is true here and we are the future of digital manufacturing. Hardware is an incredibly tough market but owning the lion’s share of the software that drives the 3D printing industry is our goal. Software value is increasing as hardware falls, we’re in a prime position to capitalize this and eventually IPO. We’re on the same track as the early enterprise software companies were for digital manufacturing“, Dogru concludes.
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