Tend.ai Receives Funding for Their Robotic 3D Print Operator System

Tend.ai’s automated 3D printer operations system

Startup Tend.ai has received a huge boost with a fundraising round of USD$2M.

Fabbaloo readers may recall our story about the initiative this past June, where we described their approach: 

  • Install a typical industrial robot near your 3D printer
  • Attach a webcam to the active part of the robot arm
  • Plug in the robot and webcam to a set-top box from Tend.ai
  • Train the robot to perform the manual tasks required to operate the 3D printer

In other words, it replaces the human operator required on virtually every 3D printer, be they desktop or industrial-sized. Every 3D print requires material to be loaded, prints to be started, prints to be unloaded. It’s a lot of labor required to operate a machine and is perhaps one of the larger operational costs suffered by 3D print service bureaus. 

It’s a wonderful idea, but as you might imagine there are all manner of things to figure out: what happens if there is an error? How about changing filament in the middle of a print job? Can a robot handle a delicate print without breaking it? How fast can operations really be done? How many robots are required for a give stack of 3D printers? 

All of these are indeed questions, but here’s the thing: they are more than likely solvable problems. Tend.ai would only need to dedicate some research, development and test time towards their resolution. But that takes cash to pay for the workers, and was beyond the 

But now they have that cash. The USD$2M invested by True Ventures should be able to help them get to a viable minimum product they can begin to market. 

In fact, Mark Silliman, CEO of Tend.ai, told us: 

We will be using this investment to hire roboticists and computer vision engineers.

The universe appears to be unfolding as it should. 

Via Tend.ai

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