Houston, TX based Kraftwurx is the world's original platform for 3D printing in the cloud. In 2006, the company launched a beta website to showcase the idea and raise capital.
Kraftwurx is not a simple manufacturing company making custom products, it is partnering with 3D printing companies around the globe, creating a networked manufacturing system of 3D printers. Every product for sale on Kraftwurx is stored as a 3D model and produced through 3D printing only when a customer orders something from the site. The products are then shipped directly to the customer. Kraftwurx's software looks for the closest facility to you that can make your item. Designers can also make money by selling their products on the site.
In 2004, Chris Norman, a Manufacturing Engineer from Texas A&M University and avid 3D designer realized that 3D printers were maturing enough to be used for the consumer products market but enabling technologies did not exist. He started Digital Reality in 2004 on the premise of creating enterprise software for Rapid Manufacturing...now commonly called 3D Printing. Their solution was named Digital Factory since 2005. What is it? It's Shapeways or Kraftwurx or I.Materialise in a box but without the hefty cost to deploy a serie of professional equipment.
Then Norman began work on the system that powers Kraftwurx called "Made-To-Order Digital Manufacturing Enterprise". The patent stems from a 2006 provisional and 2007 actual patent application set.
This week the company informed us they've received a patent award for "Made-to-order direct digital manufacturing enterprise" on Aug.20, 2013. According to the abstract released by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office:
Methods and systems for designing and producing a three-dimensional object selection of a base three-dimensional object from a customer device. A base three-dimensional model corresponding to the object is displayed on the customer device, and one or more custom modifications are received. A modified three-dimensional model corresponding to the modified object is prepared and displayed. Once confirmation to produce the modified object is received, data corresponding to the modified three-dimensional model is transmitted to a manufacturing device for production of the object, using the data to do so, such that the object corresponds directly to the modified three-dimensional model.
This is probably more like a factory-in-a-box that you can purchase same as you would buy Microsoft Office. It includes a system that enables consumers to select basic products for configuration, to customize and personalize their own products. Customer can see the 3D model on their computer without any additional software. Once the design is finished, they can place order for personalized product.
In addition the patent also covers:
- Input/Output control system
- 3D-viewer system
- Database system
- 3D engine
- PDM/PLM/ERP Production system
- Stacking system
- Nesting system
- Traveler system
- Payment system
- Material matching
- Remote manufacturing
- Quality rating system
This patent will likely affect a lot of current 3D printing service providers and market.
Posted in 3D Printing Services
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Dana Simpson wrote at 9/19/2013 7:23:10 AM:
Eddie, Was it obvious to you in 2005? Did you have a 3D printing website in 2005? When did you start hearing about 3D printing? I am i tech and back then the ONLY way we used 3D Printing (called Rapid Prototyping way back then) was by sending a file to a service provider by FTP and then getting a quote back by email or fax. There was no automatic uploading in 2005. There was certainly no 3D viewing in a browser or a way to do things to the model in a browser. In fact, I think I was still using Internet Explorer or even Netscape Navigator sometimes in 2004-2005! I'm not surprised that this got patented. Doing this over the internet is HOT today...seems somebody was thinking about it a while back.
17 Years Prototyping - Just bought by 3D System Guess Who wrote at 8/29/2013 6:17:28 PM:
What is this patent envy? Suddenly lucrative concepts and innovation isn't cool when it is a business model?! I am surprised at the limited perspectives in some of these comments, but also not in sense, because I haven't seen many take advantage of the industry as they could. I find like 3 comments that actually make good points. Others are way off the mark. For example: Additive manufacturing has existed for over 25 years. Companies like 3D Systems and Stratasys have made billions in that market long before 2006. (Much more than a blip) It is not hard to imagine those closely involved in additive manufacturing at the time could have envisioned a service like this coming. Then it is just a question of what to patent. Obviously the big players didn't think it out that far. However some might view it, the system is a win for the consumers. What did 3D System or any of the giants do in the last 10 years to make 3d printing more affordable or accessible? It is easy to see 3D Systems would have patent something like this eventually. Check out the Cubify site. Patents like this have been done before and those have held up fine so far. Direct digital manufacturing and a custom everything future is coming. Existing patents are expiring. If you can't predict whats around the corner, expect more surprising patents. LOL!
Jorge Vogul wrote at 8/29/2013 6:27:42 AM:
Hey Abe... NO... Nike ID, Spread shirt, Zazzle, Cafe Press etc do not use 3D models to manipulate anything. They manipulate 2D raster images like photoshop. They do not use three Dimensional data. That is like saying an airplane and a train are the same because they both use an an engine for propulsion. If you carefully read the patent, it is very VERY specific. It basically says if you tweak a base design in a browser to personalize it and automate production of the resulting file by transmitting it to a 3D printer or further process it to put it in a production queue that it is covered. I interpret this to be saying...when your trying to print thousands of different orders through a system, you have to automate it. Makes sense. Manually inspection would be a problem in that situation.
Bonnie_Sue wrote at 8/29/2013 6:14:47 AM:
Eddie what were you doing about 3D printing e commerce in 2005 when this patent was obviously being written since it was filed in 2006? 3D printing was not even a blip on the radar then. Its always obvious years later. I read this a ling time ago. http://makezine.com/2007/08/02/3d-mass-customization/ obviously pioneering 3D printing. Yes...this is Kraftwurx. Back in 2007. who was doing 3D printing e commerce in 2006/2007? Shapeways had just applied to the incubator in 2007....
JacobMt wrote at 8/29/2013 5:58:36 AM:
I read the entire patent...not going to make any personal attack comments, I think bits immature. What I notice is the date of the provisional application and that this patent is a CIP or continuation in part patent. I take this to mean there are many more patents coming from the provisional. The date of application is the most compelling. Frankly, I don't think any other marketplace for 3D Printing e commerce existed in 2006. additionally, and I think more compelling is that the patent makes claim that the actual geometry that is generated and shown is what is used to manufacture the individual part for the customer. Andy seemed to glaze over this in his astute observation as a patent professional. I also find it really interesting how evil so many comments here are. Why? 3D Systems sued Form1 to crush a small company from innovating. Why would anyone want to crush an innovative Startup and wish that the 800lb gorillas would crush them? Did anyone even look at how Kraftwurx is deploying this? At CES in January they told everyone that they have a product called Digital Factory to license so that anyone can open a 3D printing website like Kraftwurx turn key. That sounds exciting, not bad!
Abe wrote at 8/29/2013 3:43:14 AM:
It looks like the patent is more about modifying a 3d object on a device that manipulates a 3d model elsewhere to be manufactured. Didn't NikeID, spreadshirt, zazzle, printyourcustomcoffeecup.com do this a decade ago?
Pinkasso wrote at 8/28/2013 11:16:10 PM:
This patent will likely affect the current 3D printing service providers and market. But for designers and customers this is well another efficient and cost effective way to bring products to market. Did you add the last line or did Kraftwurx? So I guess these guys are just patent trolls.
Lord Binky wrote at 8/28/2013 11:16:01 PM:
That's painful. That patent covers this: 1) Open webpage of _____ service. 2) Select desired 3D object 3) User selects to change height of object 4) Webpage shows modified 3D Object 5) Customer hits order. 6) The 3D object data is sent off to be manufactured. Hopefully I can file for a 2D and 4D object patent of the same thing before someone else does.
jd90 wrote at 8/28/2013 9:15:01 PM:
Not seeing what's special about this patent.
Andy Knowles 3D wrote at 8/28/2013 8:57:27 PM:
From Reddit: I just briefly reviewed the claims of the patent itself. The claims have some rather specific limitations. I am a patent practitioner and I want to prevent the 3D printing community from getting outraged at this news without knowing what the patent is actually for. The patent is for a method and a system that lets users upload 3D models, modify them, and then pick a manufacturer for the 3D model based on various factors. If a website does not have those last two features, it will NOT be subject to this patent.
Wes wrote at 8/28/2013 8:12:26 PM:
Very true, and software patents that detail some obvious math and process steps, but are done by the computer instead.
Scott Dunham wrote at 8/28/2013 7:38:25 PM:
Business model patent? I don't even....
arnie H wrote at 8/28/2013 7:09:46 PM:
wow, remind me never to do business with kraftwurx ever. i really cannot believe how dumb this is.
ThatGuy wrote at 8/28/2013 6:11:41 PM:
Business practice patents... I swear I'm going to patent how to use a door knob and make everyone in the real world pay me. Here's the thing. Either these patents don't actually cover or are not an inclusive as the press releases say, or they are so broad that they actually don't restrict anyone. The USTPO has to get their heads out of their asses and start getting back to real innovation protection and get out of the business practices BS. Here's hoping 3D Systems comes down and squashes this guys nuts and leaves him with legal bills.
Eddie Sheffield wrote at 8/28/2013 5:10:23 PM:
Gah, yet another ridiculous patent! Can we please get someone in the patent office with some brains who will reject obvious crap like this? Patents are supposed to be for unique innovations, NOT things that would be obvious anyone with a passing knowledge of the internet.