While Skyforge looks like a great 3D printer management system, it is actually a lot more than that. It does just about everything for you, except insert the filament into your printer, and can even turn your 3D printer into a source of easy revenue.
When you buy your Skyforge membership, it will include access to their online 3D printing workflow that will remove the need for any complicated or buggy software native to your printer. That will all be handled on their end; all you will have to do is just answer the few questions that it needs to know in order to start a print. Skyforge will figure out everything else and auto-fill any metadata specific to your printer. This means that you can easily grant access to your 3D printer to other users and not have to explain any settings or configuration peculiarities to them, they will already be preset. Before printing Skyforge will create custom printing instructions specific to your printer, the filament being used and the object that is being printed. Or if it’s already ready to go, you can simply allow it to start when it has a new job sent to it. Skyforge can also be set to automatically ship you new filament when you need it rather than worry about keeping track of buying it yourself.
Skyforge is a cloud based 3D printer management system and a community so you can either simply use it to print your own objects and manage your printer or you can add your machine and yourself to the network and grant access to other community users and allow them to print on it. You can select a small group of family and friends, your entire company or even the entire Skyforge community depending on the type of membership that you buy. If you chose to allow users to print on your machine, Skyforge will even send you the customers and all you have to do is monitor the prints and ship them. You can set your own pricing or you can use their built-in intelligent pricing function and Skyforge will handle the payment processing.
Currently Skyforge is offering a tiered account system. You can open up a free account and become part of the Skyforge community, pay to use other users 3D printers or just manage your own personal 3D printer. But you can also open a Pro membership and charge other users to use your 3d printer for only $19 a month or open a Community membership and set up user groups with different sets of permissions and even get your own subdomain for $99 a month.
You can also grant access to your collection of 3D designs and collaborate with friends or the rest of the community. Skyforge has a robust built-in web-based workflow that will allow you to really integrate your 3D printer into their ecosystem and have total control of the entire process without having to spend too much time setting up a print. Skyforge will even generate detailed 3D printing instructions in 3D within your browser so you won’t be hit with any surprises mid-print.
All of this is managed by plugging your 3D printer into the Skyhook hardware module. In addition to easily connecting your 3D printer to your Skyforge account Skyhook acts as a simplified user interface, allowing you to easily monitor, pause, stop or restart your 3d print using the small touchscreen controls. Currently it uses a USB charging cord but they are considering using a basic plug so you won’t even have to involve a computer in the process.
Obviously by pledging now on Kickstarter you will be paying less for the Pro and Community accounts and certainly getting a price reduction on the Skyhook hardware. The project creators are promising delivery of the hardware for early birds by November. There was no indication of the hardware cost once it is brought to market, but it will most certainly be higher than the $149.00 Kickstarter pledge. I’m not sure Skyforge is for everyone, but if you want to open up your 3D printer to other users without having to deal with complicated network settings this may just be the 3D printing management system for you.