There are five things I want after designing a part–a damn part, damn fast. 3D printing was suppose to be the revolutionary technology that made all our manufacturing woes go away, speed the whole process up and leave machinists in a wake of plastic fumes and corporate laughter. DMLS still holds high hopes for production level components, however many still stoke the cigar of CNC machined parts, savoring the sweet taste of machine oil splashing off a multi-axis machine tool–ahhhhhhhhhh–and Plethora is the one planning to bring the machining speed straight at you.
Plethora is CNC Speed
There are two parts to Plethora that aim to make the machining process faster than it typically has been–A plugin that gives you real-time quotes and the service that gives you real-fast parts. We asked Nick Pinkston, founder of Plethora to give us a breakdown on how a designer or engineer would use it?
“The plugin is essentially a way of interacting with our CNC machining interface. It gives you feedback on DFM (specially DFM for the Plethora factory) and gives quotes in real-time. Right now we do CNC milling of metals and plastics,” which allows you to design a part in their supported materials (6061-T6, 7075, Acetal/Delrin or Polyethelene), see what it will cost to make it through their cad plugins (Inventor and SolidWorks), then choose when you want it shipped… all from your cad software.
Currently, they have the capability to provide parts as small as .05″ x .25″ x .25″ and as large as 24″ x 16″ x 6″ at prices based on weight and complexity. Simple in its feature, but alleviating a huge pain point is the option to send the part to straight to their factory with one click from the software–no messing with FTP or Dropbox.
Where do we see this fail? Nowhere, unless you already have CNC machines, an operator who listens to you with his good ear and no backlog of parts. I’ve not seen a machine shop like that since high school. Even with dedicated local machine tool support, this sits up there with the great option to get instant quotes on parts and how changes to the 3d model affect that.
They’re in private beta, planning to open it up slowly to take on the order processing. That means you best get there early to be part of it all. There are plenty of opportunities though, with three opt-in boxes to submit your email on their homepage.