Prusa Research Shows Fully-Automated 3D Printing Farm at the TCT3SIXTY 2022
Automated Farm System AFS by Prusa Research was revealed for the first time in Europe since Dubai 2020 EXPO
Automated Farm System by Prusa Research
In 2013, Prusa Research developed a 3D print farm that included 5 machines. In 2021, this quantity has increased to 600 3D printers that are working around the clock for manufacturing parts for new printers. In 2019, Prusa Research was approached by Czech representatives of the Dubai 2020 EXPO having the concept of introducing new technology to the Czech pavilion. This opportunity was ideal to develop an automated print farm. The farm introduced in Dubai EXPO 2020 will be commercially available and will have streamlined operations and trouble-free maintenance.
By using a touchscreen tablet, visitors can make unique snowflake models. These models will be printed by the farm through fluorescent plastic and is moved on to dispensing window. The printed snowflakes can be used as building blocks of a dynamically growing sculpture that is part of the demonstration. AFS, being operated with Prusa Connect, is engaged in taking up jobs for those who design and queue for the unique snowflake on the website of Prusa Research. The final result of these orders and the demonstration of Prusa will be a statue made from the unique prints ordered from across the world and being automatically produced. The entire process is automated without any type of human intervention, apart from spool changes and some maintenance aspects.
Snowflakes and their variations clearly demonstrate the advantages associated with 3D printing – regardless of the uniqueness and complexity of the object, production starts almost immediately. Moreover, no cost or complications are part of mold production. With the help of this printing farm, the 3D printing industry can now produce easier and cheaper production of models as compared to other machined or molded products. Waste material is at its minimum, and the possibility of recycling materials in the future is also present.
The prototype presented at the exhibition has drawn a great deal of attention and the company has made several deals with enterprises that are interested in acquiring AFS. Alongside, running AFS at EXPO 2020 also allowed testing in live conditions. Obtaining feedback from users helped in improving the machine further. The company also worked on a new 'Picker' (arm collecting prints) along with other parts for making AFS simple yet robust to maintain.
Prusa Pro AFS Cost and More Details
Prusa Pro AFS is the next-generation solution for rapid prototyping and small-batch production. The model features 34 new Original Prusa CoreXY 3D printers, an easy-to-use touchscreen interface and automatic collecting mechanisms. AFS has emerged to be the best solution for both small- and large-scale businesses. in order to make the system more compact, the printer was designed in a cube shape frame for every printer module. Appears to be like a server rack; the modules are hot-swapped, which means that the printers can be easily slid out at the time of service and a new one can be inserted relatively easily. Some additional features of Prusa Pro AFS include:
A modular design having a flexible amount of 3D printers
Extending support to an extensive range of popular 3D printing materials
Allows immediate production - uploading a file and start printing
Internally developed print farm management software
Automatic collecting and delivering of finished 3D prints
Developed by Prusa Research, manufacturer of award-winning Original Prusa MK3S+
Prusa Connect has developed new software that controls Prusa Pro AFS, designed for comprehensive print farm control. This program has been developed to feature various intelligent functions which automate the entire 3D printing workflow. After selecting a model for printing, Prusa Connect will automatically detect the best printer for the task by evaluating various statistics, including active print tasks, remaining printing time, and other vital parameters. Prusa expects the AFS model to cost around $3,000 per printer plus servicing fees. At 34 3D printers, like the system in Dubai, which usually costs about $102,000 before servicing, this AFS price is remarkably lower than many other industrial 3D printing systems, which are often available with their own servicing structures and closed ecosystems.
Though there are customers that are operating 3D printing farms using Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ and MINI+ 3D printers, there was still some room for taking a leap. This eventually led the way to developing new frames for machines so that they can be stacked within the unique fixture mechanism. In addition to this, the machine also included mechanisms for harvesting as well as delivering of final prints. Moreover, personalized print farm management software was developed for data collection, task scheduling and distribution of the print file.
Overall, Prusa AFS was a collective effort that was spread over various departments of Prusa Research. Some highly functioning parts of other printing machines were used, and new components were added from machines still in developmental phases to create a reliable and autonomous facility that can expand dynamically and accommodate more 3D printers depending upon users' requirements.
TCT 3SIXTY is the most influential 3D printing and additive manufacturing event held in UK. The event focused on real-world applications and targeted intelligence, which aligns with a vast range of technology, highly focused content and networking opportunities, making this event a must-to-attend event for engineers, designers and buyers alike. The event, along with raising awareness and adoption of additive manufacturing and 3D printing, also assures that the attendees have completely developed an understanding of the potential of these technologies that are helpful in increasing utilization at every stage of designing, engineering, and manufacturing.
Hence, the TCT 3SIXTY 2022 was a perfect opportunity for Prusa Research to introduce the Prusa AFS to the European market. The system was fully operational and running during the show, and allowed visitors to interact with its customization feature.
After entering an email within the system, a visitor will receive a notification within 30 minutes of time upon completion, after which the print with initials on it is ready to be collected. As compared to the tradeshow last year, the Prusa Research 3D booth also introduced two newcomers - an Original Prusa XL and a recently announced enclosure system. Trilab 3D, which was acquired by Prusa Research last year, showcased their Delta 3D printers during the event as well.
In addition to this, Prusa Research has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and announced a limited anniversary run of the Original Prusa i3 MK3S+.
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