We are lovers of innovation. Our original team of two met when we started a project to develop a dual use 3D printer and CNC. Upon meeting our future adviser, Todd Forsman, we were introduced to the issue of the strained supply chain in the US military. Todd introduced us to commands across the branches in Southern California, from who we learned more on the problem of getting parts where they are needed across the world. When a vehicle, tool, or weapons system goes down due to a part failure, it can often take weeks to replace. If it cannot wait, an often dangerous practice of jerry-rigging it will take place, or another vehicle or system will be disabled for spare parts. We knew that, with our experience in additive manufacturing, we could make a real difference in this space. So we started Craitor. The inspiration for this project comes from our research with the branches and our interactions with mentors over this weekend. Craitor can not only provide a relief for the supply chain and emergency manufacturing, we can also add more capabilities to the soldiers in the field. Opportunities to modify kit for specific missions, optimizations or load-outs to reduce weight, size, and power consumption. Craitor is not just an opportunity to change the way things are done, it is also allows for entirely new opportunities to exist.
What it does
Craitor is a man-portable rugged 3D printer that can manufacture mil-spec parts in the field. By using a cloud network and blockchain, we can securely distribute part files anywhere in the world our troops find themselves. Craitor can also allow for field design and manufacturing of components to meet particular needs for special forces missions to increase capabilities and reduce limitations. Craitor does this by allowing for manufacturing on the front-lines, wherever it may be, in plastics, composites, and even metals.
How we built it
Craitor is designed from the ground up to suit the needs of the solider in the field. We have been able to get this far and tailor it for this need due to our extensive research with commands across southern California in the USMC and the US Navy. We have received extensive feedback of the issue from men on the ground who would be directly using it, up to commanders, who's concerns are more on logistics and deployment. Once we begin testing our first MVP this Summer, the feedback we receive from our connections in the field will help guide us in future development.
This weekend we focused n the development of new potential uses of our technology with SOF. We also developed a new method of file compression that allows us to transit our files over low-bandwidth and radio allowing us to solve some of the problems with cloud access in the field..
Challenges we ran into
It is difficult to operate a start-up in the defense industry. One of our biggest challenges has been finding funding. We have commands that want our technology, but they are unable to fund it directly due to budget limitations. Given that our company focuses on precision hardware, we need a sizable amount of funding up-front to make it possible. This is hard to get as an early stage start-up when you have only been able to afford to build a test bed. We hope that, with this grant, we will be able to preform our first testing and gain the support of investors who are still on the fence.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We have made great strides in the development of support structure for our printer in the last few days. We are proud of the new IP we have developed in less than 24 hours.
What we learned
This weekend we learned that we should always be looking for new opportunities for Craitor to make an impact. Most of our research has been with commands that share the same interest. After this weekend, we can see that there is so much more potential for this technology to make an impact.
What's next for Craitor
Craitor will continue to push towards alpha testing this summer with our first unit. The grant for this competition would make that possible, and would enable us to start working on our next iteration immediately after receiving feedback during testing this summer.