Ai Build, a London-based AI and robotic 3D printing developer, has showcased new technology to bring automated AI-based 3D printing to the factory floor.
Access to the technology is via either a monthly or annual subscription and provides users with Ai Build’s software, hardware, infrastructure, and technical support throughout the subscription period. The bundle can be used to 3D print large scale objects autonomously from anywhere in the world. The company’s motto is to provide the “factory of the future as a service.”
The technology was displayed at the Sculpture gallery of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, during the recent Digital Design Weekend 2018.
3D printing factory
The Ai Build bundle for autonomous 3D printing includes cloud-based software AiSync, the AiMaker robotic extruder, and AiCell – an enclosure for AiMaker.
A fleet of AiMakers on the factory floor can be controlled and monitored using the AiSync, from anywhere in the world. The software also collects data points for analytics and feedback purposes.
AiMaker can be attached to an industrial robotic arm to enable large-scale 3D printing. The “smart” extruder is equipped with AI algorithms to detect any problems arising during the print and make autonomous decisions.
For tasks which require controlled conditions, the AiCell is an enclosure that creates a stable temperature environment.
Last year, Ai Build announced plans to integrate AI with robotics for large-scale 3D printing. 3D Printing Industry visited Ai Build to see how the project was progressing. At a store in London Ai Build installed a large 3D printed wave-like mesh, demonstrating the capabilities of the system.
Subsequently, Ai Build was nominated by our readers for a 3D Printing Industry Award in the ‘3D printing start-up of the year’ category.
Ai Build also continues to work with Kuka Robotics, a specialist in human-robot collaboration. As previously reported, Kuka Robotics’ robotic arms have been employed in smart factory concepts, such as Stratasys’ Robotic Composite, and Concept Laser’s ‘AM factory of tomorrow’.
3D printing with collaborative robots
Automation and robot assisted additive manufacturing may seem like a natural progression as 3D printing continues on a path to industrialization.
Fast Radius, a 3D printing service bureau, in partnership with United Parcel Service (UPS), delivers its customers on-demand 3D printed parts within 24 hours. During a recent visit to the Fast Radius facility in Chicago, 3D Printing Industry observed a demonstrator manufacturing cell utilizing Carbon 3D printers and robot arms.
Also noted at IMTS 2018 a discernible trend in the industry has been the convergence between robotics and 3D printing technology. Doug Vaughan, 3D Systems’ Senior Vice President of Marketing, told 3D Printing Industry, “additive manufacturing – along with artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, big data and other disruptive technologies – is driving the digital transformation of manufacturing and you could see that coming to life at IMTS.”
The enabling technology is also becoming more accessible, both in terms of price and suitability for use in a larger number of environment.
For example, Universal Robots, a Danish collaborative robot (cobots) manufacturer, has designed ‘safe’ robotic arms for compact spaces. These cobots use force-sensing technology, which means that the robotic arm freezes if met with resistance. This ensures the safety of the operator and people working around.
In August this year, MakeLab partnered with AMFG, a provider of workflow software with AI capabilities, to give its customers control over design and manufacturing. According to MakeLab the partnership will save company time and resources, which can be focused on the development of the company.
These trends highlight the realization of Industry 4.0.
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Featured image shows AiMaker, a smart extruder by Ai Build. Image via Ai Build