Syncfab is launching a blockchain platform designed to create a blockchain marketplace for parts-manufacturing based on its MFG ERC20 token. The company is testing its system in San Leandro, California, a small city that has the highest concentration of machine shops in the San Francisco Bay area. The process includes using San Leandro machine shops to fill orders for nearby manufacturers, such as Tesla Motors and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin. SyncFab is also working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s the National Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Partnership (CEMSII). The CEMSII operates a series of regional hubs across the United States, and SyncFab plans to offer its services through each of those hubs. Read the interview with Dennis Delgado, the chief design officer at Syncfab, on how SyncFab plans to revolutionize the manufacturing industry.
Interviewed by Daniel Jennings
- Was Syncfab originally a blockchain company?
Delgado: It wasn’t necessarily blockchain-focused when we started in 2013, it was the 2.0 iteration of what this could be. The idea at its core was how we make manufacturing more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses – make it easier, cheaper, and faster to find local manufacturing. We are positioning SyncFab to be at the forefront of the hardware-manufacturing supply chain. We’re going to see blockchain revolutionize the way we manufacture goods.
Blockchain can help secure assets, allow to work with different data protocols, machinery, patents, and industry certifications. It helps to make sure the manufacturer and purchaser have the access to the information. We started to blockchain for security. Utilizing blockchain would help the processing of data in our network. Blockchain can also help manufacturers feel more comfortable. This is a secure way that data can be accessed and it can’t be tampered with. There’s complete traceability back to me as the manufacturer, as well as the purchaser.”
- How are manufacturers connected to suppliers today?
Delgado: It’s still very manual. It’s all paper-based, organized in files. It’s not very secure. With all the advanced technology in manufacturing, this is the industry that is based on paper. Even larger companies really on paper and have trouble finding manufacturing capacity.
Even big shops are reluctant to work with small or medium-sized businesses. They don’t know who they are. There’s no way for them to validate the shop without knowing what their track record is.
With our platform, machine shops will be able to take digital parts orders from manufacturers using CNC machines, which can be connected to the blockchain.
(CNC) machines are automated devices, such as lathes and laser cutters. Many of these devices are connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). Syncfab currently sells services from CNC machines to suppliers through its website. – Ed)
- What is the main purpose of Syncfab’s MFG utility token?
Delgado: The purpose of the token is to incentivize more traditional facilities to get behind blockchain. Shortly after that people will be able to use the MFG to start submitting purchase orders to factories. So they’ll have the ability to submit a design file they wanted to work on and we’ll connect them to local manufacturing facilities.
This is a new means to generate revenue. A lot of shops spend countless hours quoting jobs for free. Machine shops and manufacturers would receive MFG tokens in exchange for bids made on the Syncfab platform.
In our MFG token sale, we’ve had over 22,000 people. Our average MFG purchase is around one Ether; it’s really a distributed interest it’s not just huge whales. Average people participated, people in the industry, people in industrial design who are facing the difficulties we are trying to solve.
- What other benefits will suppliers and hardware manufacturers get from the Syncfab platform and MFG?
Delgado: There’s no real stability with the quoting of shops right now. You’ll go to two of the same shops that have the same machinery capabilities. You’ll go to one shop that doesn’t really know you – you’ll get a huge quote. You’ll go to another shop that you were referred to – you’ll get half the price. Purchasers often have a hard time finding shops that meet their needs. I worked for small hardware startups, where I was one of the people in charge of finding local manufacturing. I was spending countless hours making cold calls to factories, or spending time driving and visiting factories to validate them.
With SyncFab, platform users can plug in the data that the factories require to provide an accurate quote. That automatically gets matched with the factories in our network.”
Right now we’re targeting parts manufacturing, but we are looking into 3D systems, models, different software that could essentially create assemblies submit a full product. It could dissect that product into all the individual parts, source where those parts need to get manufactured and all come together. That’s the inevitable dream. If you could literally submit a 3D model that has all the parts of the model, you could source it.
- What is Syncfab doing to get young people into manufacturing?
Delgado: We’ve been working with the city of San Leandro and some of their colleges and high schools. We’re doing factory tours with high school students to get them to see how different machine shops work. We’ll build several machines that they will train on – students will work with materials. SyncFab wants to make younger people excited about manufacturing – make manufacturing cool. And create new jobs for them.
- What is the ultimate goal for SyncFab?
Delgado: We’re hoping that our product can ignite a new kind of industrial design revolution, make manufacturing more accessible and easier. That would help manufacturers that want more business. We’re seeing the beginnings of another industrial revolution with smart manufacturing. In the next ten to twenty years there’s going to be a lot of cool things happening in manufacturing.