If you haven’t used a 3-D printer yet, you may be surprised to learn that it isn’t fully automated the way your office’s inkjet is. With paper printers, users queue documents from a computer, and each finished sheet drops neatly into a tray, waiting to be collected. With commercial 3-D printers, however, designs are manually programmed into the printer, and each finished part is manually removed before starting a new print, which is very time-consuming. At schools and businesses, a trained expert usually handles all prints, which can be expensive. Now MIT spinout New Valence Robotics (NVBOTS) has brought to market the only fully automated commercial 3-D printer that’s equipped with cloud-based queuing and automatic part removal, making print jobs quicker and easier for multiple users, and dropping the cost per part.
To use the printer, called NVPro, a user submits a project from any device, which queues up in the NVCloud software. When a part gets printed, a retractable blade cuts the piece out and moves it into a bin, and the next project begins automatically. Projects can be monitored remotely via webcam.