Over the course of the past year, we have seen 3D printer after 3D printer hit the market, aiming to grab a share of the ever growing industry. The sad but true fact is that the vast majority of these 3D printers really don’t introduce anything new — not from a business standpoint, education standpoint, and most discouraging they all are lacking when it comes to innovation. There have been two types of consumer level 3D printers hitting the market; those that use FDM (FFF) technology, and those that use stereolithography (SLA). The other details that differentiate one new 3D printer from another, are very minimal. Sure, some may print slightly faster, or have a slightly larger build volume, or smaller layer height/width, but we are more or less seeing the same 3D printers produced, just from different manufacturers.
A company called NVBots, and their Founder & CEO AJ Perez hopes to change this in more ways than one. Perez, a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) tells 3DPrint.com that he worked with the school to help develop the first graduate class in additive manufacturing. He also was named as one of the Hive’s ‘25 Under 25‘ in 2013.
If you have ever used a 3D printer on a consistent basis, then you know how much of a pain it can be when you have a large quantity of objects to print, yet don’t have the time nor the patients to wait around, take a finished object off of the print bed, and prepare the printer for its next job. You don’t have to manually remove documents off of your typical desktop 2-dimensional printer, so why in the world hasn’t anyone come up with a solution to make the 3D printing process just as automated as its 2D counterparts?
Thanks to AJ Perez, and NVBots, there is now a solution — The NVPrinter. This innovative new 3D printer features a patent-pending built-in automated object removal system that allows you to print in batches, rather than single objects. NVbots is also the only company with a cloud based slicer and queue enabling remote printing. Perez took the time to explain how the object removal system works to 3DPrint.com in an interview.
When an object is finished printing, the NVPrinter has a blade-like device that moves from the right hand side of the printer across the build platform, to remove the object from the print bed. That same device then pushes the object back over to the right-hand side where it is then moved off into an area of the printer designated for storing finished prints. This area has the ability to hold one filament spool’s worth of printed objects. Users can then open the storage chamber, to remove their prints as desired.
“At NVBots, we feel most 3D printing processes are far too cumbersome, prohibiting widespread adoption of a technology that will have an enormous impact on both education and business,” explained Perez. “We are passionate about playing a leadership role in fueling broad adoption of 3D printing, and are excited for others to be part of the NVBots 3D printing movement through our Fundable campaign.”
It doesn’t stop here though. NVBots has innovated not only the technology behind the 3D printing process, but they have also totally turned the entire business model upside down. They are introducing this new technology as well as the innovative new business model via a crowdfunding campaign on Fundable.
“We’re very excited that NVBots has chosen Fundable as their platform to raise capital,” explained Fundable CEO Wil Schroter. “Startups like NVBots have already attracted over $130 million in funding commitments via Fundable. The team at NVBots is taking a unique approach to 3D printing and democratizing the technology in a way that’s never been done before, bringing a unique opportunity to early stage investors.”
So how is NVBots planning to innovate when it comes to their 3D printing business model? Surely you are aware that in order to access a 3D printer, you must either (1) find a machine that is publicly available, (2) pay someone to print an object for you, or (3) go out and purchase a 3D printer yourself. The third option is one which takes a lot of guts. Unless you are pretty tech savvy, you are very likely going to run into issues with the printer, the process of printing, or the fact that within a year or so, your 3D printer will probably already be out of date. Technology is constantly improving. Extruders are becoming more efficient, speeds are always increasing, and print resolution is still only in its infancy when it comes to creating objects that look and feel like they are supposed to.
Instead of selling 3D Printers, NVBots plans on targeting the education sector, as well as small to large businesses, with the innovative new idea of leasing out their printers. That’s right, instead of selling their 3D printers, they will allow clients to lease them. On the surface this may seem quite unnecessary, but Perez explained his reasoning.
The option to lease a 3D printer allows for users to have a never-ending warranty on its performance. If something breaks, it will be repaired/replaced, and full service support will be provided to all users, including guidance on best printing practices and help with any issues that may arise. On top of this, the lease option means that as NVBots develops new, modern 3D printing technology, clients will be entitled to have their 3D printer brought up to date with the newest technology available. This means that you are never stuck with an outdated printer, as we all know how quickly the 3D printing space is evolving.
NVBot also provides a cloud-based interface that dramatically makes the 3D printing process a lot simpler. It allows users to submit a file, easily tailor their print job, and monitor it remotely via an on board camera. Perez told us that in place of traditional slicing software, NVBots will utilize a special slicing mapping algorithm which provides the users with simplified on-screen “sliders” that will allow them to determine the quality that they want versus the print speed they desire. Users will be able to adjust basic parameters, to get exactly what they want out of the printed object. In an effort to promote adoption and higher level design learning, NVBOTS has developed a library of 3D printable curriculum. These modules range from a 3D printable periodic table to the human skeleton.
NVBots is aiming to target places of education, such as high schools, colleges, universities, and fablabs, as well as small to large businesses. They will begin by offering several packages:
- Educational Starter Plan – $300/administrator, $70/kg of filament – Lease Price = $2,999/year
- Educational Unlimited Plan – Free administrators, Free unlimited filament – Lease Price = $4,999/year
- Business Start Plan – $600/administrator, $90/kg of filament – $50/user – Lease Price = $5,999/year
- Business Unlimited Plan – Free administrators, Free unlimited filament – Lease Price = $8,999/year
While the filament prices may seem quite high, Perez explained to us that this isn’t meant to price gouge. NVBots will guarantee 100% quality when using their filament. They will create the default settings for each and every filament that they offer, which will then be transferred to their client via the cloud, during printing.
The NVPrinter is already in use at MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, as well as a couple high schools. NVBots anticipates on having 100 3D Printers in the field by the end of this year, and they have already formed partnerships with Autodesk, Citizen Schools and FIRST Robotics Competition. What do you think about the NVPrinter, and NVBots’ unique business model? Will it work? Discuss in the NVPrinter forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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