At International CES 2014, one of the key aims of the companies who are to exhibit at the 3D Printing TechZone, is to capture the imagination of the general public, just ordinary people with no skills in design or other technical backgrounds. It is this wider audience that all the major 3D printing players have been trying to access for years and Utah-based WhiteClouds is no exception. Their mission is to bring 3D printing to the masses and they believe their web offering could be the key that unlocks the technology for general public use.
WhiteClouds CEO Jerry Ropelato said, “I’ve been intrigued by 3D printing for a number of years now and I took the opportunity to start WhiteClouds eight months ago, which is all things 3D printing…We have 21 full-time people and seven part-timers. For a company that really hasn’t got out of the gate yet, we’ve invested heavily in this.”
Ropelato continued to explain that the WhiteClouds name represents how the company sees 3D printing: as a creativity revolution allowing people to free their ideas and make them into something real. “That’s when the industry exploded…I really believe that 3D printing today is exactly where the computer industry was in the late ’70s. Then, you had the big iron manufacturers, the IBMs, the Honeywells, the Hewlett Packards that have been around for 30 or more years and what came along was a little thing called the personal computer. Microsoft. Apple. That is when the industry really exploded and it’s the same with 3D printing.” “In this industry, you have the big iron manufacturers – Stratasys, 3D Systems – but really, because of the MakerBots and the consumer models coming out over the last few years, the industry is really picking up and I think the masses are still trying to figure out what this is all about. So while it’s not that good today, just like it was back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, there’s a lot of work that’s still got to be done to put it in the hands of the masses. Sure the makers and early adopters have worked for themselves, but not form the masses. I don’t think it’s there yet. I don’t think the hardware is there yet,” Ropelato said.
“We will be announcing the launch of our website in a couple of weeks,” Ropelato continued, “We’re doing a soft launch in a few days. It’s a complex site that will have over 7,300 pages of content and 3D printables. It’ll be different from anything that’s out there today. “Our goal is really to help the masses. We’ve been really involved in the technology and the science and trying to communicate with the masses and not necessarily just the ‘geeks’ and that’s what we’re about.
But is WhiteClouds just a rival to virtual communities like RepRap, Shapeways and i.Materialise? “I really don’t think so,” said Ropelato. “If I had to make a comparison, I would say we’re like a cross between Shapeways and howstuffworks.com…We’re really going after the masses, so an audience that is still very new to this and so our goal is to help them take their creativity and their imagination and move that into physical objects.”
WhiteClouds are going to give the public access to a myriad of ‘how to’ files and content covering every aspect of 3D printing on their website. 3D printing for all? Maybe.
[Image via prweb]