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Platform-based manufacturing, act 2: CloudFab

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
10th October 2009


“CloudFab is a new online marketplace that provides engineers, designers, and hobbyists access to a network of job shops who provide fabrication and prototyping services (currently 3D printing).”

After the launch of 100kGarages, the Ponoko blog informs us of another inititiative in the works, CloudFab.

They have a CloudFab Manifesto, explaining their vision and goals:

“In the beginning, humans fashioned all their possessions with their own skills – ones they learned from their community. Over time certain members specialized in the art of making things – thus began the age of the artisan. Trade specialization increased to the point where each trade became a science. These tradesmen began to develop all kinds of tricks to make their tasks easier – the industrial revolution began. As they further automated their tasks they vastly increased the efficiency of production – thus began the age of mass production.

This trend toward automation continues in our time, however there is a storm gathering in the distance. A storm that will wash away many of the paradigms of the past and bring us back to some of the roots of our humanity. Techniques that were once only available to a select few are coming within the reach of all of us. As technology becomes more ubiquitous, the ability to shape your own reality increases. This democratization of innovation allows nearly anyone with an idea to solve their own problems and realize their own dreams – thus begins the age of mass customization.

These trends are all culminating to form the perfect storm of achieving these ends. A vast reservoir of spare capacity exists waiting to be tapped by latent demand. Digital fabrication techniques now allow us the standardization and consistency to remotely produce unique, high quality parts and devices. The internet allows us all to share files, tools, and techniques that foster innovation without requiring vast sums of money. All of this – and at the same time the population is growing tired of mass produced goods that only superficially connect with them and their lives.

At CloudFab, we believe strongly in this movement, and so we’ve developed this platform to enable those with the fabrication equipment to share their machines with the greater public. We hope our service will be one step towards the goal of truly personal fabrication. Now the journey begins.”

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One Response to “Platform-based manufacturing, act 2: CloudFab”

  1. Tim Thellin Says:

    Xpress 3D, www.xpress3d.com, has been doing this since about 2002.

    Xpress 3D is an open market web site providing instant rapid prototype quotes, from multiple service bureaus.

    Users can select from fused deposition modeling, PolyJet, SLA, SLS and Zcorp. The user instantly receives a price quote and estimated delivery date from each provider on the site.

    The site contains information explaining the various technologies and the materials used on these systems. And there’s also some good comparison data to help you choose the correct technology for your application.

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