75% awesome; 25% scary

Tend.ai Robotic Arm Tends to 3D Printing Farms


This robotic arm runs a 3D printing farm like a pro. Tend.ai can read, surveil and operate screens, remove prints, and even use machine learning to keep more precise.

One of the nagging problems in 3D printing is that you have to do all the administrative things manually. You remove prints from the beds, check the remaining time, … all this sums up to a lot of wasted hours.

Oregon startup Tend.ai may have a better solution. They are preparing an high-tech robotic solution to keep printing processes in line.

Tend.ai robot with iPad (Image: Tend.ai)
Tend.ai robot can be operated even remotely.

Tend.ai Robotic Arm Tends to 3D Printing Farms

Especially for smaller 3D printing farms, a good workflow can help you to be more productive. 3D printing farms use multiple, even dozens, of 3D printers to create enough product, and they aren’t exactly easy to maintain. A lot can go wrong, and the humans in charge are left running back and forth trying to catch any and every mistake.

Tend.ai has created a robotic arm using low-cost electronics that can monitor printing activities for you. Also, one arm can operate several printers. Using the software, the robotic arm can be trained to tend a printing farm from beginning to end. They can push buttons, read screens, remove final components and even change 3D printing filament.

More importantly, they can learn how to do this on their own, without needing their Human Overlords to pay attention 24/7.

“Tend.ai never requires you to modify or network your machines,” they rightly say.

The startup claims to know the importance of making a consumer-friendly product. Everything comes pre-configured, and the set-up is simple. Any smart device like a tablet can be set up to monitor and control the robot.


Robotic Arm Utilizes Machine Learning to Be Extra Awesome

The idea of Tend.ai’s robotic arm is great, but it’s no easy task to man a printing farm with a robot. That’s why machine learning helps them get better every time. Pooling data from all of their customers, Tend.ai robots would be able just to keep learning.

Tend.ai team (Image: Tend.ai)

It’s no surprise that founders Mark Silliman, Robert Kieffer, and James Gentes all have a background in robotic or software development.

Tend.ai is kicking off a beta program soon for maker spaces and small production farms; then they’ll be looking into subscription-based services.