Robots to go, courtesy of Ai Build

Ai Build teams with Kuka to deliver the Factory as a Service.

Ai Build is a company that has managed to combine all the hot button technologies of manufacturing into one product package—the Ai Build Factory as a Service (FaaS). It’s AI + large scale 3D printing + IoT.

Unveiled at the Victoria and Albert Museum during Digital Design Weekend 2018, Ai Build’s new package gives manufacturers the ability to license their automated fabrication product for on-prem use. The system can be licensed by the month or by the year.

The company has teamed with Kuka Robotics for large scale robots fitted with Ai Build’s 3D print extruder, AiMaker. The total system includes hardware and software delivered as three components: AiSync, AiMaker, and AiCell.

  • AiSync is a cloud-based web application enabling users to simulate, control and monitor their fleet of 3D printers from anywhere.
  • AiMaker is the company’s thermoplastic extruder designed to be attached to industrial robotic arms.
  • AiCell is a lightweight, modular enclosure that houses the industrial robotic 3D printers in a highly controlled environment for maximum precision and repeatability.
The enclosure is temperature controlled including the heated printing bed enabling the equipment and material to be maintained at the proper temperatures. (Source: Ai Build)

So how does AI and IoT fit into all this? The system’s cloud-based component, which enables customers to login and simulate their project as well as monitor its progress also maintains data about the machines. Ai Build is collecting data about its machines, monitoring their performance and, as a result, the company is able to make adjustments, and fine tune the performance. It can also detect potential problems.

In 2016, Ai Build demonstrated its technology through the Daedalus Pavilion project developed with ARUP Engineering and presented at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference in Amsterdam. In this case, the project was designed to show how Ai Build can disrupt construction and Nvidia used to project to demonstrate its computer vision and deep learning capabilities. (Source: Ai Build)

Ai Build says their technology, combined with state-of-the-art industrial robots, enables mass production 3D printing with a reduction of manufacturing and labor costs. The company sees its technology transforming workflows in industries such as furniture, construction, automotive, and aerospace.

What do we think?

We think it’d be great to have a Daedalus pavilion in the backyard as a gazebo.

All this makes tremendous sense. Some of the challenges of 3D printing so far are that 3D printing is a complex process involving special materials and machines that must be monitored. The material has to be maintained at the proper temperature, and the entire system has to be serviced more than most garden-variety robots. All that comes before the complexities of designing what is to be printed and choosing materials, etc. The rental plan puts the onus of maintenance and support on Ai Build and gives customers the freedom to ramp up or scale down as needed. When the ability to do that is easy, customers are likely to scale up faster than they might if every move entails a purchase and maybe even an employee.