If you have ever managed a website, or worked for your company’s IT department, you have more than likely heard of a server farm before. Server farms function in a way which can save a company’s clients time and money. Instead of having to purchase and manage a server themselves, businesses, as well as those running personal websites, oftentimes outsource the task to a server farm. Instead of paying for repairs on the hardware, and wasting time dealing with unforeseen problems, they basically rent the server space, and if something goes wrong, a tech will fix it for them, perhaps thousands of miles away.
San Diego, California based company SD3D Printing Inc. has taken this idea and applied it to the business of 3D printing. The company, which just launched last year, recently opened their first 3D printer farm. The 3D printer farm allows clients to purchase and then house their 3D printer on site. When a client wishes to use their 3D printer, the entire process is managed by technicians at the farm, who are extremely experienced, and helped greatly by the world’s first open source Adaptive Build Environment (ABE). Clients will pay a service fee which is dependent on the length of the contract. A typical one year contract would equate to about $5.89 per print, plus the cost of filament ($30 per kg of PLA or ABS).
Because SD3D uses the ABE platform within the farm, the printers become extremely reliable, as objects are printed in a near perfect environment. In a discussion that 3DPrint.com had with SD3D Printing Inc’s Founder and CEO, David Freeney, he explained the benefits of ABE:
“ABE can be thought of as a universal smart cover for open source desktop 3D printers. The goal was to create a product that could bridge the quality and reliability gap between the affordable printers utilizing generic materials and the expensive enterprise level printers. All of the key elements that go into making a perfect print are monitored and controlled universally such that ABE can be easily removed and installed on just about any desktop 3D printer in less than a minute. ABE takes all of the technicalities out of being a 3D printing technician. All of the pertinent data for diagnosing a problem is displayed live and logged in an easily accessible file. This is utilized by self-learning algorithms to prompt the user whenever possible of an imminent print failure before it even occurs.”
All of the printers at the print farm will be encased in these adaptive build environments, which provide all of the following benefits:
- Humidity and Vibration Monitoring
- Automatic Precision Bed Leveling
- System Thermal Protection
- Temperature Gradient Neutralization
- Diagnostics and Alerts
- Automated Material Selection
- LED Lighting & Expandability
- Universal Dry Docking System
The ABE platform is currently being assembled, and will be tested throughout the month of June, with the initial units expected to be ready in time for July’s opening of North America’s first FabCafe.
“ABE was one of the key developments required to make The Printer Farm possible,” stated Freeney. “We are now pushing the limits of quality and affordability in 3D printing by combining universal smart systems with professional hosting services for open source printers. Some have used the analogy of The Printer Farm to that of ‘finding a stable for their horse’ (hence the name).”
We would love to hear opinions on this new business concept, as well as the ABE platform which makes it all possible. Discuss SD3D’s strategy in the 3D printer farm forum thread at 3DPB.com
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