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3D printing has yet to come to the layperson user’s world, as it often involves a sharp learning curve for non-advanced users. AIO Robotics is prospecting in this direction by designing all-in-one printers of the plug-and-play model. This allows beginners to operate the printers easily while still getting the most of their cutting-edge functionality. Director of Operations Jens Windau and COO Lucas Lok join Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard to describe this ingenious technology and some of the projects they are working with. Join in and learn more about this startup technology which just might hold the future for 3D printing.
Listen to the podcast here:
All-In-One 3D Printers With Jens Windau And Lucas Lok Of AIO Robotics
We’re here at SoCal Maker Con with Jens and Lucas from AIO Robotics. We’d love to hear a little bit about each of you and your company. Please let us know who you are and exactly what to do.
Sure. I’ll fill you up. We’re AIO Robotics. We’re 2.5 years old with the company and we’re six people building the world’s first all-in-one 3D copy machine. It’s like a 3D scanner and a 3D printer all-in-one together.
That’s a big task. What do you do with the company?
I was one of the founders of the company. I’m CEO of the company and building that business development department.
Lucas, what’s your role?
My official title is Director of Operations because there are only six of us. We wear many hats, HR support, sales, distribution, you name it.
Startups are a lot of fun but everybody has to wear a lot of hats. In your all-in-one printer, I could put a product or object in it. I can scan and reproduce it, is that correct?
Yeah. The typical streamline process is you scan an object. Most of our clients do the post process in the end on a computer and they’ll print it out again. You can scale, change, stretch, rotate, and modify your object. You don’t need any CAD skills necessarily. You can play model something and scan it. That’s the novelty of our system.
That would be a great idea. We’ve interviewed some fine artists that are using 3D printing in their process like sculptures. They do model things physically in traditional materials but need to scan it and print it to change it for their sculptures. Imagine your type of product would be interesting and good for that market.
We do have customers who do that. They are wood carvers. They make a model out of clay like a base model. They then get a scanned copy of it, and they would edit it on their computer to do some final touch-ups.
I can also say that’s useful for those that are doing a lot of renovation. They need to do applications of old car parts and hardware. That would be great.
What other applications do you find? Are you selling the product now?
Yes, our product is in the market. One of our main core strengths here is that our machines are simple to use. It’s a true plug and play model. It’s the only true plug and play model on the market. What we mean by that is you take it out of the box, you plug it in, you get power and you’re ready to go. People love that about it. It’s not intimidating. One of the problems with 3D printing, in general, that we’re trying to fix is the technical learning curve and how steep that is. We’re trying to bridge that gap. When somebody takes a look at our printer, they’ll see the screen, scan, print, copy, and fax. It’s simple. Everything is on board. The editor, if you want a file, we have some files pre-loaded. You can edit on board, slice and print it.
Are you using your proprietary slicer?
We integrated a slicer, a software into the machine. What you can also do is you can use a third party slicer on your computer. You don’t necessarily have to go through our preset slicer on the machine.
You have a software interface. Is that your interface that handles all that?
Yes.AIO endeavors to make 3D printing more accessible through a plug-and-play model. Click To Tweet
We prefer that and we recommend that to our audience who are startups. We’re learning 3D printing. We need to take all of your extra variables out of the way. If you can find a machine that does the slicer in it and crashes it through a printer, we recommend that. It’s a lot less hassle and headache. When you’re ready to enhance it, go ahead and take it offline.
That’s why we kept everything open on our machine. Every user can access all the files from PLY scanning files to STL files and gCode files. You can exchange them. You have non-proprietary filament so you can use any PLA filament out there in the market. We will keep it as open as possible for our customers.
For beginning users, we don’t even like the word slicer. We think that’s intimidating.
I agree. What do you call it?
For us, a lot of users may not even notice that it’s slicing. The way that we have structured the slicing of the user flow is like if you were to print on Microsoft Word. You hit Ctrl P or you’ve done your adjustments and edits on your file and hit print. What comes up? Page Setup or Print Preview. You’re adjusting a few settings there.
It’s loading. I can’t tell what loading is from a young age. I’m comfortable waiting for whatever that is.
This makes a lot of sense to appeal to an audience that’s not already 3D converted.
How it works for our users is they use a format that’s familiar to them like collating pages or printing double-sided. It’s those settings. Once they’re done with their 3D file, you hit next. For the beginner, you have some basic changes. What’s the resolution that you like? What’s the infill setting? Do you want it hollow? Do you want to fill it? Do you need a support structure? That’s a single button and then you slice or you hit next and get a print-ready file. For users that are more advanced, we still have advanced settings so they can hit that advanced button, change more complex and advanced settings like travel speed.
That’s great. We only had a little bit of experience with scanning for our show because we create original designs. That’s what we do. It hasn’t been a big driver for us. We went out to try a scanner. The results weren’t great for us because there were a lot of holes.
There’s a lot of fixing in the file that needed to be done afterwards. It was a little complicated, we thought. With your system, it’s automatic.
We have an algorithm that automatically fixes those holes, but we can only do it up to a certain degree. That means, we have two types of objects, which are typically two types of customers with two types of objects. Some of them are getting a lot of sculptures. For sculpture scanning, our machine is perfect. In general, 3D scanning is perfect for sculpture scanning. When it comes to complex mechanical parts scanning, you will quickly realize that they have their limitations. You cannot necessarily automate a full scan of a complex mechanical part. We’ve come to conclusions because of all kinds of different reasons. The objects are shiny, transparent, too dark and all these limitations. That’s why we give scanning tips to our customers. We teach them up to a certain limit on what they can do and what they can’t do with the scanning.
That’s good because it is complicated. The better scanning, the less you have work after.
I’m excited to take a close look at your machine. We’ll make sure that we have that video for our readers.
We’d love it. We could show you a print and scan. That’s something a lot of our customers love to do. One of the projects that we love at AIO Robotics is we work with Enabling the Future. They make a lot of 3D prosthetic hands. They’re talking about trying to reach areas where it might be a little bit more rural. To have a true standalone machine with those files preloaded on the machine can make a big difference. That way, they could have it there at the clinic and all they have to do is scale the files that are pre-loaded and they can print it right away.
That’s great. That’s good. What’s next on the horizon for your company? You have this machine that you’re doing and selling. You’re a startup. You’re growing. You might be thinking of what’s going to follow it up. Are you able to share anything about that?
We’re focusing on the educational market. That’s our number one revenue stream for the company. We want to further increase our market share in that segment. For the long-term, we will utilize our Wi-Fi capabilities, printing, and scanning capabilities with our six machines and we’ll provide services on top of that. The key here is to have an internet-connected machine with a big touch screen where you can access scanning and printing in an easy way.
That sounds great. We’ll keep an eye on it and we’ll head down to check it out in further detail ourselves and we’ll take extra footage at the front of the show along with this show.
Thank you so much for sharing that with us and our readers and spending time with us and what I’m sure is a busy schedule.
Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
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