3DQue Introducing QPoD & QSuite at RAPID 2019: Enabling Autonomous 3D Printing Mass Production Capabilities

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Yesterday in Detroit, this year’s RAPID + TCT kicked off in the Cobo Center. We’ve already been reporting on plenty of news from the show, with lots more to come in the days ahead. Canadian company 3DQue Systems Inc., which automates FFF and FDM 3D printing for mass production, will be launching two technologies at the event this week: QSuite and QPoD.

First, a little background…the company was founded just last year by finance expert Steph Sharp and 18-year-old inventor and 3D printing whiz 18-year-old Mateo Pekic, who began 3D printing small part quantities in 2016. Pekic needed to find a way to remove parts from the print bed and start the next job remotely, and after lots of research and testing, has now been running his own 3D printers – with full automation – for more than two years.

“Until now, plastic 3D printing has failed to meet today’s manufacturing needs due to the high cost of part removal and lack of end-to-end automation. Working from his basement, Mateo Pekic has been able to solve a problem that has stumped some of the world’s leading experts in materials science, engineering and innovation by automating plastic 3D printers to safely produce complex plastic parts at scale,” said Sharp, who is also the CEO of 3DQue.

Pekic spoke with Sharp, a local mentor for entrepreneurs, and asked her to run the business with him; 3DQue was founded just days after Pekic’s 18th birthday. The company has truly made plastic 3D printing competitive with traditional manufacturing, as it offers solutions to some of the major problems when it comes to scaling the technology, such as unit cost, autonomous part removal, and automated production.

When I first saw an image of the QPoD, I was positive it was oriented wrong, until I read the release more closely. The plastic high-volume 3D printing mass production unit, powered by the company’s automation QSuite, has a vertical build platform.

This could actually be a real game changer. The efficient, compact, 24/7 production-on-demand unit has a total of nine 3D printers in a 12 sq ft 3×3 array. An 8-day field trial was conducted on the autonomous platform in January, and the QPoD printers were able to successfully produce 25 x 25 x 25 mm switch cube frames at a rate that would be equivalent to 100,000 parts a year: a production capacity of over 8,000 parts/sq ft.

Switch cubes

The platform has internal conveyors and collection bins for true autonomous 3D printing, at unit costs that are competitive with injection molding. With QPoD, there’s no need for outsourcing, which helps reduce inventory levels, costs, the environmental footprint, and lead times.

The QPoD is driven by QSuite, which automates 3D printers all the way from upload of the design to delivery of the parts. This end-to-end automation upgrade negates manual, time-consuming tasks like enterprise scheduling, 3D printer restart, and parts removal. The suite includes several modules, including calibration, material removal, and matching the next print job to the current 3D printer configuration.

QSuite mass produces high-quality plastic parts in a continuous loop without the need for dedicated operators, and reprioritizes jobs based on changing parts or deadlines. The suite doesn’t require any glue, tape, or robotics for autonomous part removal, and uses real-time reporting and management data to give users complete control from remote locations.

At RAPID this week, 3DQue will be offering live, hands-on demonstrations of the innovative QPoD. Not only has the cover been removed from the platform so attendees can get a good look inside, but you can also book a hands-on demonstration of the automated part ordering system at the company’s booth #1765. You can choose the part, material, color, and quantity, then watch how it’s uploaded into the queue and matched with the correct printer. Once the part is printed, attendees will be able to see it automatically delivered to the collection area and pick it up.

Additionally, don’t miss the Innovation Auditions at RAPID today from 1:30-2:30, as Pekic will be competing for the chance to present 3DQue at tomorrow morning’s keynote presentation.

Starting in July, QSuite capabilities will be available for license to end users on a pay-for-use basis starting at $1 an hour per printer (lower hourly rate for high volume users). Booking is also currently open for the QPoD platform, with installations slated to take place between June-December 2019 for the introductory price of $45,000. Each on-demand production unit comes with QSuite, automated part delivery, control panel, and nine 3D printers.

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

[Images provided by 3DQue]
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