Saturday, 10 November 2012

TeamPlatform 3D Printing Data collaboration in the Cloud

When Web services like TeamPlatform begin to appear, it's a sure sign that a technology is being subjected to consumerization.

Additive manufacturing via stereolithography and laser sintering may be twenty years old, but the moniker "3D Printing" emerged only a few years ago. Why? The price of hardware components such as extruders, stepper motors and associated electronics has dropped off a cliff. The cat is out of the bag ... everyone can produce a modest 3D printer, even if many will be limited to squirting plastic. The availability of open source control software driven forward by the 'maker' and RepRap culture has spawned a thousands "I can build a 3D printer too!" projects. If I were a teen again, I'd be doing precisely the same.

Many of the new "3D printing" pioneers have ambitions to sell their creations as commercial products, following in the footsteps of Makerbot, Ultimaker and Formlabs. Unfortunately, many will fail, misunderstanding the difference between engineering and business and the critical role venture capital in marketing. The enthusiasts won't care. 3D Design is on the up and up. With the rise of bureau services the 3D Printer no longer matters, even though step changes in capability will occur over the coming years. Today, the critical skill in 3D Printing is not making 3D Printers, it is 3D Design. That's were the real explosion in start ups will be.

The world is positively brimming over with 3D Data! Where will we all work?

Previously the preserve of professional CAD packages in industry, 3D Software is now available to suit every price point. Kids, hobbyists, artists, small and medium sized business ... everyone is looking for 3D software, 3D designers, or ways to acquire their own 3D design skills.

Collaboration is the name of the game, which is why TeamPlatform is so welcome. It lets you create a professional customer service and engineering portal in minutes, providing a virtual space for all stakeholders in a 3D project.

TeamPlatform supports CAD, STEP, DWG, STL and over 100+ other 3D formats ... without leaving the Web browser, to visualize, revise and manage 3D models securely. Designers, their clients, and those overseeing the 3D Print tool chain can collaborate directly in Web-based workspaces and on individual 3D files. Forget about translators and workstation licensing and never-ending updates. And it's far more than a file store. Take a look here. There are online CAD tools, RFQ/RFP support, simple workflow, project dashboards for sharing progress with clients, and more.

RapidForm the 3D Scanning specialists acquired by 3D Sytems use TeamPlatform as a central place to manage 100s of client projects.

Avance Design is using TeamPlatform to manage 3D Printing projects and customer-focussed 3D design services.

We've seen how 3D designers are collaborating with consumers (B2C) via Cubify and Shapeways. Now, with TeamStation, every 3D startup can have a professional collaboration infrastructure all of its own, thanks to the multi-tenant magic of "The Cloud". And like any good Web product these days, it sports an API. TeamPlatform is B2B for 3DP.

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