It’s often said that while robots are able to do jobs that humans simply can’t, whether that’s because they are working in extreme or overtime conditions, sometimes robots are able to do the jobs we don’t want to do as well. Project management can be a stressful task—especially in manufacturing—when tight deadlines loom and everyone on a team must be working at their equal best, and nonstop, no matter how tedious. Many might see these as the perfect conditions for a robotic taskmaster—and the team at Tend.ai agreed so much that they made one. And you can add any crew of 3D printers to match. The craziest thing about the whole package and process? It’s so simple. While often it’s a concept that inspires creating a specific tool, here you may find that the tools themselves are so inspiring you’ll just have to think of something to make so you can put your own robot factory into action.
Specializing in artificial intelligence, robotics, and computer vision, the three-person startup from Oregon behind Tend.ai set out to create the world’s first fully automated robotic 3D printing system, and as you’ll see (check out the videos below for proof), they’ve been quite successful. No small feat, obviously, the Tend.ai team has taken their concept to allow for numerous 3D printers to be ‘managed’ by one robot whose job it is to see that automation is carried out on a basic factory line. Once the printers have produced 3D parts, they can even be boxed and pushed down a conveyor belt.
“The robot arm uses an attached camera to read each printer’s display just like a human would,” Mark Silliman, Tend.ai’s CEO, told 3DPrint.com. “The robot gripper automatically unloads prints and presses the printers’ buttons. It’s compatible with any printer without any modifications.”
While that’s all incredible enough in itself, you can actually purchase your own Tend.ai robot and proceed to set up an automated 3D printing lab wherever you want—and where you do very little work. Once the smart robot is out of the box, all you have to do is connect the gripper and any standard webcam to the robotic arm, and then connect both to the pre-set computer which establishes a WiFi connection.
While this is not exclusive to the management of 3D printers (Tend.ai can manage other groupings of machines as well), if you are monitoring a lab of them, or even just one, the process is as easy as pointing the camera at the printer’s screen. Tend.ai automatically reads the information from your 3D printer(s), and can even be trained to push the printer’s buttons, as well as unloading the printer when the job is complete.
Dealing with one machine is certainly simple enough, but the Tend.ai team says that you can easily expand this to dozens of machines without complication. So if you have been thinking about setting up your own mini-factory, here’s a perfect avenue—and once the designing is finished, you can sit back and let the technology of cloud robotics do all the work.
You’ve been hearing about artificial intelligence for years—now here’s your chance to actually put it in motion for bringing your own concepts and products to fruition. Tend.ai allows you to put your own team into place, and you are never required to modify or network the machines. They can be monitored and controlled from any iOS or Android device—whether you are at the grocery store or out of town on business for the day.
We’ve seen numerous innovations within the 3D printing industry featuring robotic arms, from construction 3D printers to those being used for massive art installations, but this is the first comprehensive system that allows you complete control with the potential to put a business idea into action and produce it from the concept phase to packaging to taking your products to market.
The Tend.ai is a great example of how you can take advantage of every benefit of 3D printing, from speed and quality in making a product via superior hardware, to affordability, and most importantly—self-sustainability. With this team, you don’t have to worry about setting up schedules, vacations, or even breaks (with the exception of routine maintenance). It’s all up to you, with no headaches of the middleman either. You’ve got a competent management system and an unlimited source of labor just waiting for you to teach them what to do—now all you need is a design and a product! Are you excited about this new product? Let’s talk about it it further in the Robotic 3D Printing System forum over at 3DPB.com.