Sculpteo: 3D Printing in The Cloud for Beginners
In a recent article, we demystified some of the high tech jargon being thrown around these days like “big data” and “the cloud”. Big data is just that; a lot of data. “The cloud” is actually just software that’s hosted on a server somewhere which you utilize on a subscription basis as opposed to buying the software and storing it on your own server. It’s also intuitively called “software as a service” or SaaS.
In the context of 3D printing, “the cloud” is a place where you send all your 3D drawings, choose what configuration you’d like, and some days later the 3D printed objects appear on your doorstep. This is a highly appealing proposition for anyone who just wants to tool around with 3D printing but not necessarily go out and sink down several thousands of dollars on a machine they don’t even begin to know how to operate. It’s all very daunting trying to get into 3D printing these days, which is why companies like Sculpteo offer us “3D printing in the cloud”.
Founded in 2009, Sculpteo claims to be the first company to offer
online 3D printing 3D printing in the cloud or what they refer to as their “3D Printing Cloud Engine“. This French company with offices in France and San Francisco took in a single funding round of $5.4 million in April of 2015 which coincided with several major partnerships that were formed in the same year. Staples announced that Sculpteo was the company they selected to power their new online 3D printing platform. The second partnership announced was with HP. You may have heard about the Sprout from HP, a desktop 3D scanning and imaging computer that was released in early 2015:
Sculpteo has partnered with HP so that any 3D objects you create on Sprout can be sent off to Sculpteo with a single click using any one of the 48 different combinations of 3D printing materials and finishings. For those who are designing 3D printed objects using any other software programs out there, Sculpteo allows you to upload your creation using over 30 different file types. Once uploaded, you can then begin to choose materials and customize the actual 3D print as seen below:
If both Staples and HP vetted Sculpteo and then decided to partner up, we reckon that their “3D Printing Cloud Engine” is reliable, scalable, and can produce parts at a high degree of quality consistently. As for pricing, Sculpteo reckons they can 3D print your designs cheaper than if you bought a Makerbot and printed them yourself as shown in this infographic. The next question would probably be about what shipping costs look like, so here’s a table that puts some color around that as well:
Since those prices are in Euros, we just tack on 10% and that’s the price in U.S. dollars. Not only can you 3D print in the cloud using Sculpteo, but you can also take a look through their large collection of online educational content about 3D printing and even open a shop through which to sell your creations to the general public. They also offer an API for developers which means you can build your own applications around their “3D Printing Cloud Engine” which is just what Staples did.