Prusa Research sets the world record for simultaneously operating 3D printers [Source: YouTube]
We try to shy away from frivolous 3D print “world records” on this publication; most of them are trivial and often untrue.
But the story of this release of a video by Prusa Research has to be told, as they have accomplished a seemingly impossible feat: operating 1096 3D printers simultaneously. They even had officials from the Guinness Book of World Records on hand to certify the attempt.
The previous record was held by Airwolf3D, who in 2014 managed to operate 159 3D printers at the same time. But Prusa Research’s feat is on another level entirely.
Prusa World Record Attempt
Unlike any other party in the world, Prusa Research just happens to have 500 operating devices on hand: that’s their factory that produces many of the plastic parts for their 3D printer models. In addition to that, they organized printers from staff’s desks and a batch recently completed from the assembly line. In total, 1100 devices were online and ready to roll at the commencement of the test.
To put this in perspective, let’s look at some of the logistics required to get this project done. Imagine setting up the following:
1100 3D printers were carefully setup in a large hall
GCODE for a 13-minute print of a hexagon shape was placed on each printer
330 extension cords were used to distribute the considerable power required to run all 1100 machines
33 operators were assigned to run the devices, with responsibility for around 20 printers each
22 independent “stewards” officially supervised about 50 printers each, with an independent expert and referee to ensure validity
Prusa World Record Procedure
Operators had a five-minute period to start all printers. That’s about 14 seconds each! Somehow they managed to get them going, but in the process the lights must have dimmed in Prague as the huge 3D printer configuration drew 124kW of power. The video says the room containing many of the devices incurred a +10C temperature rise in only 10 minutes.
After the print session completed, the stewards collected the printed hexagons. These were inspected for completeness, and it turned out that four of the prints did not pass the test. This meant that “only” 1096 out of the 1100 machines “worked” for purposes of the record-setting attempt.
That’s actually a very impressive statistic: a 99.64% success rate. Given the failure rate for many 3D printers, I believe this itself is an incredible demonstration of Prusa Research machine reliability.
[UPDATE] Per Josef Prusa, actually only a single printer failed in the test. The other three “failures” were “failures of the project”, in that stewards mishandled apparently successfully completed prints. One steward removed a print assigned to another steward, a violation of the attempt’s rules, and two other stewards somehow forgot to pick up one print each, leading to three mishandled — but evidently successful — prints. Assuming these three were successfully printed, the failure rate was only 1 out of 1100 3D printers, an actual success rate of 99.91%. I think this is quite incredible, as I’m used to seeing 3D printers that seem to fail once in every 3-4 print jobs.
What happens to all the 1096 prints? Evidently they are using them to create a gigantic mosaic. This record attempt is also a demonstration of the massive power of parallel 3D printing. Imagine producing 1096 hexagons on a single device: it would take a week and a half of continuous printing — and manual intervention.
Here’s the entire video:
Future 3D Printing World Records
Could any other party attempt such a feat? Is there anywhere in the world you might find a collection of over a thousand devices all in one place? I really don’t think there is such a place. Other high-volume manufacturers of 3D printers, such as Aleph Objects or XYZprinting, likely cannot match Prusa Research’s volumes.
It’s likely this record will not be broken — until Prusa Research decides to break it themselves in the future.