Is the Factory of the Future Here?

voodoo manufacturingIf you’ve followed the trajectory of 3D printing so far, it’s apparent that additive manufacturing has the trajectory to change the future of what it looks like to manufacture a product. This is even evidenced in our post from yesterday, where we rounded up several of the ways that 3D printing could change your daily life. These changes aren’t far off, either: This decade, and even 2016, could see drastic changes.

This week, there was another first when Voodoo Manufacturing (“Your Personal Factory”) announced that they’re open and ready for business. There’s buzz all over the manufacturing and technology networks, wondering, “Who are these guys? How does this work? What does this factory look like?” The short and sweet of it is that Voodoo uses a “farm” of 3D printers to take orders for either single print or high volume production using only their low-cost network of 3D printers.

Interestingly enough, we had highlighted the MakerBot factory in one of our articles on the next generation of factories, and it’s ex-Makerbot employees that are behind the Brooklyn factory using makerbots. Max Friefled, Oliver Ortlieb, Patrick Deem, and Jonathan Schwartz raised $300,000 to build the shop, and according to TechCrunch, are already profitable.

“At Voodoo, we’re all about speed, scale, and price. By using MakerBots, which are 1/10 the cost of traditional 3D printers, we can grow our factory effortlessly to meet additional demand in an instant. Some people say that desktop 3D printers are not reliable enough to operate at this scale. At Voodoo, we disagree. We have achieved what others thought was impossible. Because we are a factory born from software, we can run our 127 printers with a single person,” said Voodoo Manufacturing co-founder and CEO Max Friefeld.

Their printers are controlled by a central server, meaning that jobs go in, and are printed and shipped immediately. So far, the tiny company has shipped out over 25,000 orders for companies like Viacom and Chipotle, to name a few. According to 3Dprint, users can upload their models either directly to the Voodoo website, or can use the API to direct customer orders from their website straight to the Voodoo Manufacturing printing queue.

It’s almost instantaneous, and could make shipping, transportation, and logistics much, much easier for companies around the globe. Just picture it: rows of 3D printers, churning out orders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no supervision and little human labor, almost as if the factory itself is alive.

However, this comes on the heels of some rather awful news for Voodoo’s alma mater, MakerBot: Crain’s reported earlier this week that just as Voodoo launched, MakerBot announced their layoffs of 20% of its staff just six short months after cutting 100 staffers. CEO Jonathan Jaglom admits that MakerBot has not met its goals in recent quarters, or been able to achieve future growth or success.

In other words, it’s been a major week for 3D printing news. We, along with the rest of the tech industry, will be following these stories closely to see where these revolutionary companies, both new and old, are headed.

Photo credit: Makerbot