Our current focus is on automating CNC machines. You can think of them as incredibly powerful robotic arms that use a variety of spinning cutting tools to carve blocks of metal into useful shapes, such as a component for a car or aircraft.
Most people have never seen or heard of these machines, yet they make hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of components every year and underpin global manufacturing.
There’s virtually nothing that can be produced without involving them somewhere along the line.
But today, like most manufacturing equipment, they’re not automatic. A person needs to tell them, in incredible detail over days or weeks, everything about how to produce a component.
This extremely skilled profession is called CAM programming, and it’s a rapidly shrinking field, even though worldwide demand for parts is growing at more than 12% a year!
This human step is a huge bottleneck and source of errors and scrap, but the larger problem is one of optimality — there are trillions of ways of producing a component with one of these machines, but only a few of those ways are fast. People are terrible at finding these optimal solutions, meaning most CNC production is maybe a quarter as fast as what is theoretically possible.
This means each CNC machine could theoretically output somewhere >4x more components per year than is currently achieved.
This is where CloudNC comes in: we’ve developed software that fully automates the programming of these machines and can search through that space of trillions of options to find one of the fast ways.
We’re far from done, but after more than four years the core automation tech works and substantially outperforms humans on supported component geometries.
We’re now building the first of many factories designed from the ground up to exploit this technology, following a wholly digital-first approach.
The aim is to produce and sell parts to the engineering industry at a fraction of the cost that is normally possible while delivering aerospace-grade quality and perfect on-time delivery.
So to be clear, CloudNC sells a bit of metal components faster/cheaper/better, not software. This kind of advance is best exploited through a vertically integrated approach.
It’s worth noting that readers might expect on-time delivery and quality parts to be a given in this industry, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Our data suggests that 10% of orders fail to arrive on time or have some kind of quality issue. Lead times are six to twelve weeks, and much longer in some market segments. The industry is broken.
We aim to address all of these problems, at first for CNC machining and later for a whole range of manufacturing processes. Incredibly fast, cheap, high-quality, and sustainably manufactured.