May 21, 2015 | By Simon

Although we’re currently at a stage in the evolution of 3D printers where there is a new design popping up on a crowdfunding platform nearly every week, we’re also learning how to better appreciate existing brands who have been along for the ride for a few years now.  Among others is San Francisco-based Type A Machines.

Founded in San Francisco by Chief Technology Officer Andrew Rutter in January 2012, when his wife requested he move his 3D printer off of their dining room table, Rutter modified his printer to be able to fit into his trunk with a telescopic design that didn’t sacrifice the build volume.  From here, his knack for improving upon existing technologies was born and soon after, so was Type A Machines.  

Considered by many to be the industry’s best return on investment thanks to its encouragement for hacking, the company’s $3,199 Series 1 Pro 3D printer is capable of printing over 40 materials, features a heated build platform, a painless wireless setup and even includes a 1 year license of Autodesk Fusion 360 for getting started right away.

The company’s continued innovative approach towards 3D printing has led them to their latest endeavor, the Type A Machines Print Pod, which is sure to help advance the near-future of getting physical objects made fast.

Described as being faster and more affordable than injection molding in the sub-10,000 unit parts range, the Print Pod is a low cost additive manufacturing solution that includes up to six of the company’s Series 1 Pro 3D printers.  The company has been demonstrating their new Print Pod system in the 3D playground at the RAPID 3D Printing Conference in Long Beach, California this week, where 18 of the Series 1 Pro 3D printers were being operated and controlled from a single screen.    

“This will affect anyone in the plastics market working to improve supply chains, launching product, or providing customized goods,” said Espen Sivertsen, CEO of Type A Machines speaking at the RAPID conference, “We’re effectively bridging a $300B gap between prototyping and manufacturing, making it faster, cheaper and less risky to go to market.”

Included with the purchase of a Print Pod are support services, operator training and certification, an accessible OS, workflow software, maintenance kits, and one or more hardware “Pods” comprised of six Series 1 Pro 3D printers.  The company’s custom-built Print Pod Control Center 3d printer monitoring system allows for a single operator to remotely monitor and control up to 60 printers simultaneously from a single screen.  Considering that a single Print Pod is capable of producing thousands of parts a week, it’s easy to see just how far this can be scaled out for those need cheap and quick turnaround times.     

“Affordable 3D printing has reached a tipping point where it is not just a prototyping tool, but also a volumetric manufacturing tool,” said Rutter.   “To support this, we built a backbone of modular, evolving and scalable hardware. Our Print Pods offer flexibility and scalability simply impossible with traditional manufacturing.”

Among other benefits of the Print Pod include the ability for small businesses to scale up affordably at their own pace; starting with a single Series 1 Pro printer, a Print Pod can be achieved over time as business grows - and could ultimately lead to multiple Print Pods.  

“We see the overall speed of the system as a big competitive advantage,” added Sivertsen. “It’s possible today to build large additive manufacturing systems capable of printing a custom phone case every 30 seconds, but for the million dollar capital equipment cost of such a system, we could sell you 50 of our Pods and print a phone case every 10 seconds.”



Posted in 3D Printers


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