The folks at Italy-based Sharebot have introduced a new hardware accessory, the Sharebox 3D.
The Sharebox 3D is in fact an external “box” containing smarts that can make life much easier when operating your personal 3D printer. The idea is to have your 3D printer driven by Sharebox 3D instead of typical SD card or USB direct control.
Why do this? There are several advantages, not the least of which is that SD cards are no longer required and you won’t have to keep your computer near-permanently attached to the printer to drive it.
But there are more advantages:
Sharebox 3D can perform slicing of 3D models to prepare them for 3D printing within the box. This means you can effectively send a STL model to Sharebox and it can print it. This is a task you could even perform from your mobile by using the web interface provided by the Sharebox 3D.
Sharebox 3D includes a webcam that can observe the 3D printer for remote operation, of a sort. While Sharebox 3D does not have “hands” to physically prepare the printer, you can certainly verify that it is available for a print.
During printing, the process can be observed and we believe this is a key feature. As 3D printer operators all know, printing is never 100% reliable and many operators sit patiently watching their print proceed, ready to kill it if something goes wrong. Now this checking can be done remotely via Sharebox 3D’s webcam.
Sharebox 3D also provides appropriate notifications of print status, particularly when failures or completions occurs. It’s also possible to resume a stopped print since Sharebox 3D keeps track of the current layer being printed. We’re not sure how frequently this would actually work, but it’s a good idea as this could recover at least some failure scenarios.
This accessory is compatible with any personal 3D printer using the popular Marlin firmware, which means most of the personal 3D printer brands - with the exception of the major manufacturers such as MakerBot or 3D Systems.
The unit is available now for pre-order on Indiegogo at an early bird price of USD$149 (to rise by USD$50 later).
We believe the Sharebox 3D could be a valuable accessory to any compatible 3D printer setup, as the extra function could prove very useful in certain situations. However, there are a growing number of remote control printing solutions, so Sharebox 3D may have a tough time competing with other options.