Even though 3D printing is getting a lot of attention, the industrial revolution it could start hasn’t happened yet for a number of reasons. The fact that you often have to leave a print running unattended throughout the night is one of the many drawbacks of this technology. This means there are probably a lot of downtimes while prints sit in the hopper after being completed and before the next one is started. The “Automation Ecosystem” from Formlabs is a set of add-ons for some printers that are meant to help with this problem by taking care of the tedious manual work.
Form Auto, for example, can take a printed part out of a machine so it can start making another. With an optional High Volume Resin system, the printers can hold up to five liters of raw materials. And there’s new software called Fleet Control that makes it easy to manage multiple printers and distribute print jobs evenly. Small and medium-sized businesses that depend on manufacturing but can’t afford to have a person at each printer to fix problems as they come up are a natural fit for the systems.
Formlabs says that the benefits are more than just being able to leave work unattended for longer. They also say that there will be less waste of materials and cheaper prints. The company says it thinks users’ per-print costs will go down by up to 40 percent, and packaging waste will go down as well. Form Auto will cost $3,400 and will come with a free year of Fleet Control. Shipping is expected to start in the second half of the year.