An engineering firm in New York is developing an ergonomic sink fixture for a client in Sydney, Australia. The client wants to physically hold the fixture before finalizing the design. Fortunately the firm uses 3D printing for its prototyping services, but unfortunately it can take several days to ship across the world. In 2013, several days is a long time.
The internet has made all forms of communication instant, and that now applies to the transmission of physical objects. 3D printable CAD files are digital, so they can be sent to any computer with internet access. The engineers of the firm aren’t stupid though; they know that not all clients are trustworthy, and some may take the CAD files and modify them as they please, effectively stealing the designs from the firm.
So what is the firm to do? Shipping costs too much time and money, and trusting the client could be just as costly. The solution may be Teleport It 3D, a service developed out of Layer by Layer, which is a 3D printing company founded by Max Friefeld. The service acts as a middleman between those with printable files and those that need physical objects. The firm could send the fixture CAD file to Teleport It where it’s sliced on their servers with Skeinforge and then sent to the client as printable gcode through the TelePad platform. The gcode can’t be modified like a CAD file, and what’s more, the firm can set limits on how long the object is printable and/or how many times it can be printed. Once expired, the gcode is gone.
Because the file is moved through the TelePad platform and is pre-sliced, the client just needs access to a 3D printer. This service also simplifies the process for clients that may not be familiar with 3D printing. Friefeld explains: “Our platform allows users to send prints not files. This way, a designer can share their work without giving anyone else access to the original design file. Their work is protected from improper distribution and alteration, and meanwhile, the receiver doesn’t have to worry about downloading any actual files to their computer or figuring out the proper settings. They can just print the product.”
For those without 3D printers, services such as makexyz could serve as another middleman. Either the firm or the client could Teleport the gcode to a makexyz printer, and then the client could pick up the print locally. Teleport It 3D has plans for a marketplace too, so if you’re a seller of designs, you may want to sign up when it’s launched.