Deploying infrastructure with a single click
To support FATHOM Analytics, its business intelligence tool specifically engineered for companies operating multiple 3D printing and additive manufacturing systems, FATHOM chose to implement IBM Compose database-as-a-service (DBaaS) technology. FATHOM has a lean development team experienced with additive technologies, and required specialists that typically handle databases and system operations—making the DBaaS model an ideal fit for the company.
Compose enables the team at FATHOM to build its analytics application using open source technology—without the need for database expertise. FATHOM deployed instances using IBM Compose for MongoDB as the back-end for the analytics software. MongoDB was particularly appealing to FATHOM on account of features such as simple cluster configuration, high availability and support for changefeeds, which enable real-time updating.
The rapid one-click deployment of database instances through IBM Compose is also particularly useful, as Quiñonez explains: “For us, getting things provisioned quickly is way more important than trying to do it all ourselves and save money.”
The FATHOM Analytics software runs across multiple systems. One part of the system gathers data on manufacturing processes within the 3D printing production center—this manufacturing data covers print jobs, part costs, error states, and more. In short, the solution collects data on every aspect of each printed part and then transfers it to a Kafka cluster.
Cloud-based processes compile the data from the previous seven days of print jobs and events stored in Kafka, extracting meaningful messages and alerts, before transferring it to MongoDB. From there, another service makes the data available via a RESTful API, through which clients have web access to analysis and insights.
FATHOM has also developed an established online ordering platform for 3D printing and additive manufacturing. The platform is based on MongoDB, provisioned and managed through IBM Compose, and enables clients to organize and manage orders for 3D printed parts.
Quiñonez elaborates: “We provide a central portal for ordering, costing and pricing; our clients can then integrate that system with whatever internal systems they need to—whether they are customer relationship management, manufacturing resource planning, or accounting systems.”
The ordering platform builds on an existing development of a tool that FATHOM has been using internally to manage its own production processes. IBM Compose provides the crucial underlying scalability to add more and more users.
Quiñonez continues: “The nice thing is that because we’re a professional production center, we’re actually using FATHOM Analytics internally for our network of commercial 3D printing and additive manufacturing systems—so, in effect, we’re our own first customer.”
Enabling tomorrow’s breakthroughs
Supported by IBM technology, FATHOM is sharing its extensive knowledge and experience with its customers, and helping to advance the 3D printing industry at large as it continues to grow into new application areas.
Armed with FATHOM Analytics, clients can optimize their manufacturing processes to perform the most efficient print runs possible. Users in 3D print farms receive real-time metrics that show how best to schedule builds to generate the best yields, and how to eliminate even the smallest 3D printing errors.
Underlying the success of the FATHOM applications is the ability to select and deploy the databases required to support FATHOM’s developers’ workloads. IBM Compose puts that critical database infrastructure just a click away, and the fully managed service—covering backups and full server administration—ensures FATHOM’s developers have no need to worry about day-to-day database management, and can focus on adding functionality to the applications.
Quiñonez concludes: “It was really clear to me that the best way is to just go with the managed database service, rather than doing it ourselves. Maybe at some point, we’ll revisit that value proposition. But that’s way down the road—for now, working with IBM Compose enables us to focus on helping other companies push additive technologies to the forefront of their respective industries. As the product grows, I'm confident IBM will be able to help us through the challenges of scaling our platform as well."