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$2,650 pledged of $30,000 goal
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By Element Robot LLC
$2,650 pledged of $30,000 goal
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About

Skyforge gives your 3D printer superpowers.

  • Ditch the tethered computer and print from the cloud.
  • Sell prints automatically through our online marketplace.
  • Share 3D printing resources within a makerspace, library or school.

How do I connect my printer to Skyforge? 

Easy. Just plug your 3D printer into the Skyhook module.

Skyhook then connects to the internet over WiFi. It has a really simple user interface that lets you cancel and restart prints, monitor printer and connection status, etc.

Skyhook connects you to great software, so we figured it should be a nice piece of hardware. 

What can Skyforge do for my printer? 

A whole heck of a lot, actually.

  • Creators can easily turn their 3D designs into real-world objects using our simple in-browser workflow. Spend time learning and creating, not configuring software.
  • Owners of 3D printers can connect Skyforge to their printer to help local communities access 3D printing and generate revenue through automated online orders. Put your printer on the map.
  • Institutions like libraries and makerspaces can manage their 3D printing resources intelligently. Enable your community to rapidly learn about 3D printing and collaborate on creative projects. All in the cloud.

But more on the features later. 

Our Story

We believe 3D printing is more than prototyping. It's a new mindset for creating structured matter. This new way of thinking about design is addictive, and we're never gonna give it up. The creative freedom of 3D printing is worth sharing effectively, and this project is our contribution to that goal. 

Skyforge actually started last year as a pretty different project. We created an automated 3D printer kiosk (sweet, am I right?) and brought it to the University of Idaho (see CNET and the Idaho Statesman).  

It wasn't all smooth sailing, though. Along the way, we overcame a lot of hardware and software hurdles controlling a 3D printer reliably over the internet. Then we realized that it would be pretty feasible to turn Skyforge into a software platform that we could share with you! So we got to work! 

We founded a new company and created Skyforge as you see it today. Of course, we used a 3D printer to help refine our design for Skyhook from concept art to working product.

After a ton of work on our software and hardware, we're ready to start connect your printers to Skyforge! This is only the beginning, though: we'll meet more 3D printing challenges, and we look forward to sharing our solutions with you. Join us on our journey to build the world's best 3D printing system! 

Your printer is ready for Skyforge

Here's why.

Your 3D printing process is holding you back.

If you want to use a 3D printer today, you will probably install and carefully configure a lot of desktop software. After setting things up, 3D printing is still a very manual process. Find and organize 3D files, choose detailed print settings, create manufacturing instructions, put the instructions on an SD card, transfer instructions to the printer, watch the print. This process is a waste of time.

Your 3D printer is underutilized. 

The software isn't made for multiple users, and it's hard to bring new users up to speed. Who wants to spend hours training each user to solve error messages like "the input file contains a hole near edge 11.085939,11.380004,60.110999-18.055999,11.382004,60.150995 ..."?

Sharing a 3D printer with a community is a headache.

You'll encounter problems from keeping track of design files and correct print settings to accounting for filament usage. Don't even mention collecting payments or ensuring your users respect the intellectual property rights of other creators.

We think there's a better way to use the creative freedom of 3D printing.

Skyforge Features

Create in the Cloud

Skyforge enables you to use a great online 3D printing workflow with your 3D printer. The benefits start as soon as you upload a design: Skyforge renders and archives it for easy access. 

Skyforge has a host of other abilities to improve your 3D printing process:

  • Invite your friends to collaborate on a design, send a link to let others download it, or put it in the creative commons.
  • Save and access a design from anywhere on the web.
  • Intelligently connect your design to metadata: manufacturing settings, versions, projects, renders, tags, design files. This data makes a great workflow possible! 
  • Automatically create a design history when you upload a revised file.
  • Monitor your 3D print progress. Skyforge tells you when a print starts or finishes using email or text.
  • Connect a webcam and see what the printer's building.

Of course, a huge part of the 3D printing experience is the 3D. Skyforge uses modern web tech to deliver an interactive 3D experience in your browser.

Skyforge allows you to choose necessary manufacturing settings for your design, such as material, design orientation, infill, and support settings, without bogging you down in details that Skyforge can figure out itself.

The rest of the process is automatic (and we think it's awesome). Skyforge merges your manufacturing settings with its knowledge of your design and your chosen 3D printer to create tailored manufacturing instructions just for you. And, of course, you can view the exact instructions in 3D in your browser before deciding to print. We'll even save your settings for that design for next time: printing should be easy!

We really believe Skyforge is one of the simplest and most effective 3D printing workflows in existence. But don't just take our word for it: check it out yourself.

Put Your Printer on the Map

We want to bring additive manufacturing to as many people as possible, especially those without their own printer. Creators can use our online database of connected 3D printers to order a print. Skyforge takes care of the backend processing and queues the print automatically. Owners of 3D printers can decide whether to offer prints for local pickup like Craigslist, or ship them like eBay. 

Opening your printer to others, whether in a dorm room, a makerspace, or a library, is a great way to foster community of creative people and to turn your 3D printer into a productive asset. 

We've tested this by placing one of our own 3D printers at a university campus: with the help of Skyforge we were able to help students and bring in hundreds of dollars of revenue per month

If you want to see your printer used more, upgrade the user experience!

Of course, this choice is yours to make: whether you want to fly solo, share your printer with a couple of friends, within an organization, or open access to all of humanity, Skyforge is ready.

Airdrop Filament Resupply

Do you enjoy taking time to order filament? We didn't think so. Skyforge knows when you need filament, so we can easily and automatically keep you stocked up on your favorite colors of quality filament at a flat rate per cubic centimeter. If you're in the Continental US, you can enable Airdrop Filament Resupply at any time after getting started with Skyforge.

Share 3D Printing Resources Intelligently

It takes more than a 3D printer to bring great 3D printing to your community. 

You also need a good process, starting with telling potential users about your printer. Give them a way to get started easily. Set up a workflow and permissions. Do you need to approve prints? Should members get a certain amount of print credit each month? Do you need a staff member to watch the printer? Can members handle the whole process?

Of course, if you want to share your 3D printer with a couple of friends, Skyforge makes that easy. But it can do a lot more, making institutional 3D printing easy to implement with these features:

  • Access control
  • Pricing control
  • Usage accounting and monitoring
  • Payment and refund processing

Set up the workflow you need: no longer do you need to tape instructions to your 3D printer and hope you can monitor usage 24/7. Oh, and you can even set up your own branded subdomain at <myinstitution>.skyforge.co. You can make Skyforge your own system.

Which features do you need? We've setup Skyforge so that you can choose the exact features you need. Anyone can get their printer on Skyforge with a free Creator account, and we've got more advanced options for professional or institutional users.

Rewards

Connecting to Skyforge: both the Skyhook // Binary Solo and Skyhook rewards are great ways to connect your printer to Skyforge.

For the minimalist: you'll receive a Skyhook software download and license. Put it on an SD card, boot the Raspberry Pi Model B from the SD card, connect your Raspberry Pi to the internet using an Ethernet port, and connect your printer via USB. You're ready to go!

With a free Skyforge Creator // Account, you'll be able to control your 3D printer through the Skyforge web interface and share it with friends. If you're looking for something a bit more polished, we've got that too...

The full-featured solution. The Skyhook hardware module connects your 3D printer to Skyforge and includes an LCD touchscreen with a simple user experience.

  • Handle simple tasks directly: cancel, restart, or report problems with a print. Replace filament or control the printer manually.
  • Check out the current printer status, including printer position, temperature, and print progress.
  • Verify or debug connection status between Skyforge, Skyhook, and your printer.
  • See upcoming print jobs in advance.

Advanced Skyforge Plans: We also have two rewards that include Skyforge plans for pro users and institutions like schools, libraries and makerspaces. Here's the lowdown:

We've created a great automated manufacturing marketplace. If you see the value in putting your printer on the map and you want to be part of the additive manufacturing revolution, Skyforge // Pro is right for you. 

This plan gives you the ability to sell printed goods to others through Skyforge. We bring you customers and handle the payment processing. All you need to do is setup your printer, choose from mail or pickup delivery, and accept incoming orders as desired. You can choose to charge using our default pricing algorithm, or you can set your own custom pricing model.

The Pro plan is really geared for enthusiasts who know their way around 3D printing and are ready to give back to the community. We also know from experience and a bit of work that printers on Skyforge can bring in a lot of revenue per month.

We've included the Skyhook module with this reward. If you've got a 3D printer already, it's everything you need to help connect matter to the internet! 

Manage your 3D printing intelligently. Whether you represent a makerspace, university department, or a library, we've got the software you need. A Community account will enable you to set up a great 3D printing process.

  • Access: create settings for groups like members, staff, visitors, special classes, the general public, etc.
  • Pricing: every institution has unique needs, and we can set up print credit, pricing tiers, or discounts for your groups.
  • Branding: direct visitors to your own branded subdomain.
  • Review: check upcoming prints to verify they meet institutional needs.
  • Reporting: find out exactly how your 3D printing resources are benefiting your community.

This reward gets you a year-long Skyforge // Community license and a Skyhook module. If you are ready to open your 3D printer to a community, it's everything you need to make that step. 

T Shirt

We've got a soft, 100% cotton T Shirt just for you. It's got our Skyforge logo on the front in orange over a complementary blue background so you can show your support in style.

You know you want one!

More About Us

We're a passionate group of technologists and artists, and we've spent over a year creating and testing Skyforge.

We've been really fortunate to land a spot in the Idaho FabLab, providing us with access to the tools and expertise we need to prototype and manufacture electronic and mechanical systems. It's great to have an opportunity to give back to the maker community! 

Our team started coming together during a graduate research project on underwater robotics at the University of Idaho, so we've already had several years of experience developing software and hardware together.

Our CEO, Chris Walker, has degrees in physics and mechanical engineering, a background including photography and autonomous vehicles, and thinks wind turbines are really beautiful. He's been creating for as long as he can remember, and can only imagine how much 3D printing will help the next generation.

Our CTO, John Feusi, has a degree in mechanical engineering and is far too smart to speak and drive simultaneously. It's just one outcome of the careful consideration he gives to every problem encountered.

Our Lead Developer, Jonathan Staab, has a degree in liberal arts, loves python and functional programming, is a good beer snob, and dreams in code. He thinks he makes the best salsa in the world, but this hasn't been empirically verified... yet.

Printer Compatibility

We've designed Skyforge to use existing GCODE and S3G/X3G standards for maximum compatibility with existing hardware. If you have an extruded plastic (i.e. FFF or FDM™) printer that runs on GCODE or S3G/X3G, it should work with Skyforge.

FFF: the printer should use fused filament fabrication, i.e. the robot hot-glue-gun type of 3D printing.

GCODE: your printer should accept standard Marlin or Sprinter gcode that looks a lot like this: http://reprap.org/wiki/G-code. We also can work with S3G/X3G that MakerBot printers use, but we strongly recommend GCODE since it's a more common open standard.

How do I check? If you've used your printer with Slic3r, Cura, Repetier Host, or Pronterface and you can make good prints from your computer over USB, it should work great.

Here are a couple examples of compatible printers: 

  • MakerBot up to 4th generation, Replicator 2 / 2X
  • Micro 3D
  • MakerGear
  • Ultimaker
  • Solidoodle
  • RepRap Printers
  • And many, many more ... 

If you want our help verifying that your particular printer will work, please contact us.

Manufacturers: we've begun the Skyforge Certified and Skyforge Partner hardware validation process. Please contact us if you're interested in certifying your 3D printer! To become certified, a printer model must use open communication standards and demonstrate great 3D printing performance. We also want to open our client code to a few select hardware partners so that you can build the option to use Skyforge right into your printer. We'd love to talk!

Our Progress

Skyforge is already being used productively at the University of Idaho. You can sign up as a Skyforge Creator today and check out our 3D printing workflow. You can even order prints if you feel inclined.

We've already developed and tested the code for Skyhook and Skyforge to handle third-party 3D printers in an intelligent way. The printers in our video are controlled by Skyhook, and the Skyhook GUI is already up and running.

With your support we can complete development on our management front-end and add features to make Skyforge better. 

Production Plan

We plan to release software early and often so that when your Skyhook modules arrive you'll be ready to experience a fully tested system. For those who'd like to help test and develop, choose a reward including the Skyhook module and let us know you'd like to be part of the developer program.

Detailed Specs

Some of you will want to know a bit more about our system. We're really proud of it and are happy to say that it's patent pending! Here's a bit more info: 

Skyforge

  • Internally developed
  • Powered by Django
  • REST API interface
  • Designed to handle arbitrary 3D printer configurations
  • Extensible for Slic3r, Cura, etc.
  • We want to add your custom backend to add new 3D printer types to Skyforge!
  • We are working on the management interface: we want to make managing your 3D printing resources as easy as using our 3d printing workflow.

Skyhook

  • Raspberry Pi based
  • Touchscreen user interface
  • Includes power supply, WiFi dongle
  • Wireless setup and configuration over local network
  • We are selecting final power supply method: USB hub vs. dedicated power supply. The Skyhook module shown in the video is powered by a USB hub, but we may use a dedicated power supply in the final product for simplicity.

Acknowledgements

  • The University of Idaho, for helping us test Skyforge in the real world
  • Dane Wilson, for a fantastic Kickstarter video and many laughs
  • The incredible RepRap 3D printing community
  • Nick Madsen at the Hayden library
  • Great 3D print designers, such as BenitoSanduchi's tribase kochflake.

Risks and challenges

SOFTWARE

Skyforge is centered on our cloud software: we're quite confident we can create it, since we already have a well-tested working prototype and a lot of experience writing software.

We want to ensure that our remote software updating system works reliably for Skyhook modules, so we'll be putting a lot of additional testing into that. Thankfully, we're working with the excellent infrastructure management system from Saltstack.com!

We also want to ensure that Skyhook can connect as many types of 3D printer as possible to Skyforge. This will require continued work as we test new varieties of 3D printer and build a database of printer configurations. The good news is that our users can help provide configurations for the many printer varieties as the system grows.

MANUFACTURING

Hardware is really hard, and it's unfortunately common for Kickstarter projects to fall behind on delivery. Here's our strategy to minimize delays.

First, we're basing hardware on off-the-shelf components. We don't need to create any custom boards to complete this project!

Second, it's important to understand your suppliers and get manufacturing figured out in advance. We've worked with machinists on previous projects and already have obtained good quotes for the custom CNC work from several parties. We're keeping the hardware aspects of this project as close to plug-and-play as we can.

We're located at an awesome FabLab and electronics manufacturing facility, so we've got the resources to adapt to problems as they arise.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    FUTURIST: You get it. 3D printing should be accessible and effective. Let's go make it happen! We'll place your name on our website as a thank you for helping us make this possible.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    ENTHUSIAST: You will receive a T-shirt with our Skyforge logo on the front. Take a look and you'll probably want one. Shipping not included.

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    Pledge $49 or more About $49

    SKYHOOK // BINARY SOLO: you can run Skyhook on your Raspberry Pi Model B! You will receive our Skyhook software and one license! It'll turn your Raspberry Pi into a crazy-awesome 3D printing future-building robot brain. Shipping not included.

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    Pledge $149 or more About $149

    SKYHOOK // EARLY BIRD: You'll receive the Skyhook module in a great aluminium case with a color touch screen and friendly user interface, a WiFi adapter, and a power supply. These will be the first Skyhook modules delivered!

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    Pledge $199 or more About $199

    SKYHOOK: You'll receive the Skyhook module in a great aluminium case with a color touch screen and friendly user interface, a WiFi adapter, and a power supply. This is everything you need to upgrade your 3D printer! Shipping not included.

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    Pledge $299 or more About $299

    SKYFORGE // PRO: you'll receive a 1 year PRO license, including our automated 3D printing marketplace, and a Skyhook module. Put your printer on the map and turn an underutilized resource into a revenue generating machine. Shipping not included.

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    Pledge $999 or more About $999

    SKYFORGE // COMMUNITY: You'll receive a one-year license to Skyforge Community and a Skyhook module. This reward connects our great 3D printing cloud workflow for your users with an intelligent 3D printing management system for you. Perfect for makerspaces, libraries, and university departments. Shipping not included.

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Funding period

- (30 days)