Oregon-based startup Tend.ai has built the first fully automated 3D printing farm with a robotic arm operating and monitoring multiple 3D printers.
June 24, 2016: Their cloud robotic software for machine tending makes it possible for robotic arms to perform the necessary tasks you would usually have to do yourself, from removing prints to pushing buttons. Tend.ai demonstrates the capabilities in a recently released video. The robotic arm is equipped with a webcam that reads the printers’ displays, registers when prints are complete and removes them. According to the company’s founders and developers, Mark Silliman, Rober Kieffer and James Gentes, the robot is compatible with any 3D printer with no major modifications necessary.
Artificial intelligence reads the machine’s display and presses buttons just like a human would. Tend.ai never requires you to modify or network your machines.
Users can train, monitor and control their machines from any device, including iPad, iPhone or Android mobile, once the robot and webcam are connected to the cloud via preconfigured computer supplied by the company. Thanks to the computing taking place in the cloud, users don’t need high-end computers and webcams. The software is available through monthly subscription.
November 9, 2016: Update – Tend.ai raises $2 million to further develop software
Tend.ai has raised $ 2 million in seed funding from True Ventures to further develop their software prototype.
“It has all the elements we look for,” said True Ventures partner Toni Schneider who took the whole financing round. “Great team that has worked together before, deep experience, and a really unique, innovative product. I kept talking to people who told me these robots are the future of the industry, but a small business buys one, and then what? This takes something that’s been in use for a while and brings it to a larger user base.”
The startup has expanded their software to work with CNC and injection moulding machines since June. According to co-founder and CEO Mark Silliman, who confirms interest from the aerospace industry, the money will primarily go towards development, as they are currently hiring coders and roboticists. Early adopter clients will be official customers as of January 1.