CubeSpawn, an Affordable, Distributed, Open Source, FMS (Flexible Manufacturing System)

CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
edited January 2014 in Projects
CubeSpawn : is a 4 year old project to build an Affordable, Distributed, Open source, FMS. 4 months ago, the desire to embed a cryptocurrency into the operations of the machines led back to Bitcoin and the Alts.

By giving each machine its own budget, allowing it to charge for the work it does for the rest of the network of machines and letting it buy its own materials and tooling, the idea of adding the "Distributed Manufacturing" title begin to take on a dimension of plausibility once you add Cryptocurrency to the mix.

If the Meta-control system were turned into a DAC (Digital Autonomous Corporation) the system then has the potential to incentivize engineers, machinists, makers, hackers, coders and customers to use the system, contribute to its growth and the growth in the library of Digital patterns that it uses to create parts and assemblies.

I am announcing this in Ethereum first to see what level of interest is shown and weather skilled designers and developers will take an interest helping to form a global/local decentralized factory model.

My hope is that once you understand the contribution decentralized manufacturing can make to democratizing access to physical goods, You'll realize it is to material wealth what bitcoin is to money.

Thank You for your feedback
James Jones, CubeSpawn Founder


  • mikemike Member Posts: 13
    I'm interested in applying DAC to p2p automated transport - drones and ground vehicles. This application will have a lot in common with DACs for fabrication, whether 3D printing or subtractive CNC machining methods.
  • CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    Yes, I'm very aware of the parallels and applaud your insight, I'll be running ROS on the hardware, but the "meta manager" that guides the overall system behavior will hopefully be an Ethereum based DAC so hopefully we can find lots of crossover and leverage both projects
  • cobracobra Member Posts: 18
    hi cubespawn
    i didn t got your concept as in your store i ve only seen one kit for a 3d printer.what else are you proposing exaclty?
    do you any 3d printer for metals or else?
  • sneurlaxsneurlax Member Posts: 17
    Have you seen the Technocopia project? They already have a full CNC-based workshop in Boston and are working towards exactly what you mention.

    Needless to say, they're very interested. You might look into hooking up with them.

    ... and I am, too, I mean, but they're farther along than I so you'd probably have more to gain from talking to them than me. I'm certainly willing to work on this, too, though.
  • CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    Cobra and Sneurlax: The website probably needs a workover for information content again, I had a wiki for some time, but it needs to be re-built (changed hosts)- technocopia looks very cool and I definitely do want to talk to them...

    Here is a link to some photo's of the system
  • giannidalertagiannidalerta Miami, FLMember Posts: 76 ✭✭✭
    I saw something by Adam B. Levine talking about something similar on the protoshares's site. I think he had a bounty up for a spec.
  • cobracobra Member Posts: 18
    hi cubespawn
    what i ve seen looks like to reprap type 3d printing machine

    so can you elaborate and tell more about this as if the concept is interesting i would like to apply it to underdevelopped countries
  • CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    edited January 2014
    There IS a 3d printer design, based on the Ultimaker (1) printer, there is also a 3 axis CNC milling machine, and this has designs for a tool-changer, a tool setter, a tool grinder and modular tooling on transportable pallets.

    I also have looked at building a laser cutter for flat work, a laser tubing notcher, a plasma table, a vacuum former, Motor winder and a long list of additional machines, including the pallet loading and transporting system.

    The real advantage to the system is a modular, standards based "form factor" that all the machines conform to, it scales up from a relatively small 300 mm cube up to a 2.4 meter work cell by doubling (as in: 300mm, 600mm, 1.2M 2.4M) the cube frames manage power and data connections.

    Mechanical modules performing different functions can be slid into the frames to make any machine carry out any function that has been built to that point in time. The modules order can be dynamically re-arranged to optimize workflow through a system of cubes

    All the basic, general purpose machines are open source, the software is also open source.

    The control system runs on almost any general purpose single board computer (like R-pi, Beaglebone, also industrial boards)
    the control software is a modified version of ROS (Robot Operating System)

    The design is fairly broad in scope and reasonably mature for an alpha ;-)
  • LunarTXLunarTX Member Posts: 1
    Once upon a camping trip the daydream of an interstellar travel capable civilization included a on-ship database and technical protocol that would, in the event of a crash with survivors, enable step by step
    rebuilding enough technological capability to repair/rebuild the ship /new ships/a new fleet etc. and therefore keep exploration alive. A happy hopeful dream. things seem to be moving along eh?
    BTW the lunar vacuum would be great for 3-d metal printing no? The code for the blackbox of the technology of a civilization and the code to rebuild at another exosolar venue?
    Go. 400km/sec
    this is a great projecgt CubeSpawn. Press on. I am sure there is funding, base, and i agree it could be self-organizing funding.
    What are the best chip technologies for Cnc and 3D printing. If cpu then bring on the arms race for the coin for the eventual repurpose for the builds.
  • StephanTualStephanTual London, EnglandMember, Moderator Posts: 1,282 mod
  • CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    This premise has been laid out in science fiction a huge number of times since the '60's - one of my favorite treatments of the concept is the example in James Hogans "Code of the Lifemaker" where a self spreading factory crashes, is damaged, builds things wrong, ends up starting a machine society that evolves as successive phases include variations to compensate for missing processes - great stuff, but Sci-Fi has it too easy, building real stuff is much more challenging!!
  • StephanTualStephanTual London, EnglandMember, Moderator Posts: 1,282 mod
    Too many good books to read, too little time!!! Thanks for the recommendation Cubespawn!
  • LeanLean Member Posts: 28 ✭✭
    Brilliant, CubeSpawn
  • cybertreibercybertreiber Vienna, AustriaMember Posts: 29 ✭✭
    CubeSpawn, this sounds well thought through indeed. With the right incentive schemes, people will flock. It's like the wild west once was.
    I have another bullet point . What about integrating a market for engineering services. Much like a fusion of stackoverflow and crowd-working. One posts the challenge, and experienced engineers flesh out a manufacturing plan whereas the design(er) that is chosen by the client is rewarded in ETH and added reputation. I guess this somehow extends the point of "Adding digital templates to the system for products and selling new templates" and would allocate engineering capacity to where it is needed, plus draw in less technically declined people.
  • CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    And, of course CubeSpawn needs a much smaller startup fund (on the order of 80 BTC at current rates...) than some of these other projects ;-)
  • Karl_SchroederKarl_Schroeder Member Posts: 37 ✭✭
    I love this idea. Rather than a strictly self-reproducing machine, it's more like an autocatalytic network, so it's appropriate that the DNA reside at least partly in the block chain. Now, to close the loop, we need it to be able to create decentralized power systems, such as wind or solar, and then you need a disintecube--something to reduce garbage down to feedstock for the other cubes. This last step is part of the cradle-to-cradle vision of an industrial ecosystem. Probably too hard a problem for now, but combining all these things does lead to the possibility of radical decentralization and community resilience.
  • CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    edited February 2014
    Karl, thats why I threw the donation link in - my team and I are building a demonstration community outside of San Antonio, TX on a 100 acre eco-ranch.

    Closed loop food, water, power, recycling, industrial production - we have several novel systems at various stages of completion:

    Cactus-->Biogas(methane)-->fuel cell-->electricity,
    A wood gasifier powered internal combustion generator,
    Solar PV,
    Solar thermal, (similar to, but more automated) and a team of participants - this is a no-blue sky, pragmatic group - they have their own money in it, so we are only looking at what we can actually do.

    With the goal of evolving it toward better solutions for the foreseeable future... ;-)

    Getting Ethereum driving the self funding portion is very important to making this a self spreading technology.
  • comtechnetcomtechnet Member Posts: 57
    @Karl_Schroeder? @CubeSpawn? - your vision for the "disintecube" is manifest in product development I saw called the P3 (Personal Power Plant), in a process called cycle thru gassification. It's being described as a "resource recovery system". It should be no problem adapting it for the garbage reduction to energy derivative you describe. You can see the live version (when running) at and of course the site at

    I like the vision
  • StephanTualStephanTual London, EnglandMember, Moderator Posts: 1,282 mod
    'disintecube'! Now officially best thread ever on these forums :)
  • CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    I could see some "materials extraction" from a Gasifier, since with the right catalytic plates in the gas stream, you can recombine the produced "syngas" (synthesis gas) into oils, waxes, plastics, and a number of petroleum based fuels (JP4,5 Diesel, gasoline) but it appears EdenEnergy is extending the process to substantially more sophisticated chemical extraction "downstream" in the gassification process, to be frank, I'm a bit daunted by the control software, the mechanical GP machines, and an ethereum based Management DAC portions of the system - this is exactly why I believe it MUST be an open source project, since many of the minds developing for the overall system will contain insight I'd never have on my own - Powerful insight @comtechnet?
    Thanks @Ursium?
  • Karl_SchroederKarl_Schroeder Member Posts: 37 ✭✭
    Fantastic! I'm glad somebody's doing this stuff. Hopefully we'll soon be shoveling our landfill into these things and making houses and cars from the output.
  • cashcaviarcomcashcaviarcom Member Posts: 4
    I am privy to a resource recovery project here in Japan that's in the same space. Making these resource recovery systems completely self controlling would make sense for countries where labor costs are high but possibly not for all export markets.
    Well I guess it depends on the regulatory and disaster recovery protocols in place.
    It would be great if we could ...create...engender....instantiate...or conjure (up) an Ethereum based resource recovery cybernetic management software modular solution that could be easily deployed across similar technologies.
  • CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    @Mindposeidon, I'm all for modular solutions with broad applicability, since re-re-re-reinventing the wheel seems re-redundant, I think that similar to the analysis mentioned in the Max Keiser Ethereum episode:


    If all classes of financial transactions decompose into 30 or less "atomic" transaction types, then any management system will similarly break down into a finite class of specific relationships, tests, and feedback loops - so proposing general purpose configurable DAC templates is the way to go, since the structural details of such a solution will likely be similar irrespective of what your managing.

    Combining the contributions of many developers with different, but overlapping solutions should speed up the process of getting a working skeleton available...
  • comtechnetcomtechnet Member Posts: 57
    @CubeSpawn? - think about the incentive system around resource recovery. I'm trying to understand a business model that might work here. I talked to the folks at EEW. They have the entire system using 24 volt DC motors (fans). So the system can basically "self start" with a match, get up to speed and then "run". There is one subsystem, that basically is a heat pump in reverse - takes the heat - makes electricity.

    So - any waste and make power.

    So do we "ethereumize" this process?

    Does a DAC drone - tell a delivery drone when the garbage is full and then the delivery drone - takes a resource recovery center close by - then the RRS (resource recovery system) chops and shreds the waste to digestible units - then processes via the gasifier chamber - makes some power - gets some ether/BC?

    Ur thoughts?
  • CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    the Heat pump sounds very much like a peltier junction array or something very similar...

    This is probably blasphemy on my part, but the Ethereum code (in CubeSpawn at least) does very little actual direct system control, simply because there are better, purpose built, mature tools to control robots and automation:

    (ROS, ROS-i)

    I have talked to Shaun Edwards (he is the founder of ROS-i) extensively about CubeSpawn...

    So in my view the Ethereum portion of the system acts as a web appliance to collect performance and status information from the CubeSpawn array, then broker the connection to other geo-physically close systems for all the magic schedule coordination, capability advertising, capacity sharing, payments and so forth...

    The Ethereum "Module" is very compact, and lightweight, harnesses the CubeSpawn arrays capabilities and Ethereumizes the Web facing interface.

    I can't imagine that the EEW system (whether adapted to a CubeSpawn form factor, or otherwise) would be much different - most of what the Ethereum Module "knows" about the system state would be summary information as tasks where completed so building the interface between #some system# and the ethereum module (which I envision on a beagle bone, R-Pi or industrial embedded Single Board Computer or System on a Chip) amounts to formatting a summary report from a system controller or providing each system with an API to talk to the other for discovery...

    on the Web facing side, collecting the cryptopayments for services rendered, and paying the Cryptobonuses for "events" (Task Completed, Status ok) and residuals then becomes a simpler, purely performance report related function

    I think the 6 category payment scheme mentioned earlier would work fairly consistently across most materials processing without too much variation...

    Also, sorting and separation processes "upstream" will have pulled out the "elemental" trash (glass, metals, assemblies) and any intelligent system will trend toward goods designed for recycling

    Your feedback appreciated
  • SatCaSatCa Member Posts: 29
    Hi James,

    I've had some working experience with Supply Chain Management. How will the

    chains of supply created interact with each other. Operations are in my view are

    definitely a big constraint, business networks are formed as a result of human

    communication. Decision making, in my understanding should remain with users.

    As you said ideas and implementation have a huge gap of hard work in

    between. I understand you must still create an interface for effective decisive control.

    I am currently working on my own designs for an Enterprise Software with a few

    teammates. Would love to gain some wisdom from your experience in the field.
  • Karl_SchroederKarl_Schroeder Member Posts: 37 ✭✭
    Management theory is the realm of cybernetics--a different way of using computers. Operations, decision making, we're talking feedback systems and Requisite Variety here. This is the realm of Ashby's Law, Stafford Beer and Viable Systems Theory.
  • CubeSpawnCubeSpawn Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    @Karl_Schroeder, I'll go for the Beer, stafford or otherwise ;-),
    @SatCa - full supply chain management might be overly ambitious to start with, but earlier designs had a OSS ERP focused toward SCM in the diagram...:-)

    what I see here starts out considerably simpler, its a reputation system with higher rated agents carrying more influence. All the "intelligence" in the system is human intelligence, moderated through a management system for narrow, purpose specific signals to the software.

    I had a discussion today with Daniel Larimer (Bitshares CEO) about a DAC for manufacturing and he expressed well reasoned doubts about the ability of the current state of the art in DACs to manage the complexity, he made several good points, but since I do not see this system as needing to evaluate its decisions quite as thoroughly, I'm more optimistic. Here is why:

    You could implement this as a "coupon rewards" program - as in, buy a system and we, (meaning a foundation (group of individuals, cooperating)) will give you a coupon discounting your second system, if you do a $1000 worth of business on the system, we will give you ANOTHER coupon worth 5% of that gross thoughput - But, for this to happen we'll charge you a membership fee that is a small percentage of your system's Gross income (1,2,3%) ...


    This is not an intelligent cybernetic marvel, its just a partially automated incentive program - making it a DAC helps automate the process, to participate you have to provably have a system and meet other requirements (as yet undefined) starting out in this simple way still accomplishes the desired goal (incentivise users, engineering, programmers etc) WITHOUT setting the threshold so high its un-doable, or pushing the implementation out so far its not meaningful.

    K.I.S.S still applies, even in this abstract realm.

    As time passes progressively more complex and sophisticated decision making can be baked into the architecture, and simplistic models can be phased out.

    my 2000 cents! ;-)

  • comtechnetcomtechnet Member Posts: 57
    @CubeSpawn? - I understand. I asked the EE folks - they started with arduino and quickly graduated to phidgets - so yes like most subsystems, its completed "controlled" by its system/automation controller.

    Obviously, this is the very "back end" - but the fact that it ultimately makes electricity form "waste" is the interesting part.

    But - how to incentivize folks to "use" it - its simply the same old "cost/benefit analysis" or some green credits, etc.

    But - if they could receive some ether for their trash or better for their electricity made from their trash - until they brought it in-house

    Of - even if "in-house", possibly do a solar-city type of thing that Elon Musk's brother-in-law or cousin is doing (in-house but paid for by SC with shared benefits).

    So - instead of paying for my rubbish removal - the future model is that the resource recovery systems pays "us" for our waste or resources. This may be way further out "there". But just a thought.
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