Prusa Research, one of the world's largest manufacturers of 3D printers, has unveiled a revolutionary innovation at EXPO 2020 in Dubai. The print farm, consisting of thirty-four 3D printers, represents a significant shift in automated production. What's more, it also lights up, thanks to the Spectoda system.
The Prusa Research team has introduced several new features in a fully functional prototype. These include Prusa Connect software, which manages processes across the farm, selects suitable printers, and keeps track of all data and statistics. Finished products are picked up, including the printing plate, by a special mechanical arm. In addition, the printers are newly equipped with LED strips. Due to the technological requirements, Spectoda has become the ideal option to ensure the creation and control of light effects.
First and foremost, it was necessary to maintain the modularity of the entire farm. Therefore, we inserted Spectoda Controllers into each of the 34 printers and wirelessly connected them to each other. This method of implementation is customary for Spectoda-controlled devices and brings with it several advantages:
- The farm can be built in any size;
- when it comes to a service, the 3D printer can simply be unplugged, fixed and then plugged back into the system;
- each printer can be lit by LED strips installed directly on the device, but also by LED strips on the printer placed above it.
From a technology perspective, there were two main challenges ahead of our team. In the first step, we connected the Controllers to the Prusa Connect web interface (SW connection), which can thus trigger animations when selecting a 3D printer. At the same time, the Spectoda Controller is connected to the control unit of the 3D printer itself (HW connection). This control unit then triggers animations at each step of the 3D printing process.
The printer can concentrate solely on production and therefore does not become overwhelmed with print and light control commands at the same moment. When there is an error, Spectoda can alert you to this situation with a specific animation, independent of the functionality of the broken printer.
In addition to the demands of technical functionality, Spectoda also fulfills visual requirements. The entire farm can play light effects that act as a whole to catch the eye of the newcomer. As mentioned above, the lights also guide visitors through every step of the 3D printing process - from printer selection to picking up the product using the 3D printing arm.
The Farm in the Czech Pavilion
The Dubai installation can be seen from 1 October 2021 to 22 March 2022 at the Czech Pavilion at the EXPO 2020. In addition to the visual spectacle, it is possible to interact directly with the farm on site. A tablet is available for event participants to choose their own plastic snowflake. This will then be printed from fluorescent PLA by one of the 3D printers.