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Students at Virginia Tech have all the fun. Not only do they have the uber-geeky RoMeLa, or Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory, but they also have their own 3-D printing kiosk. And it’s free to use.
Known as the DreamVendor, it’s comprised of four 3-D printers and a system to read product designs from an SD card. Students simply create their designs — which can be done down the hall in the university’s CAD laboratory — and print them as needed. Perhaps the school will add the MakerBot Digitizer — a 3-D scanner announced at SXSW– when it arrives later this year. Here’s how VT describes the DreamVendor:
“Think of it as a vending machine with an infinite inventory – you simply insert an SD card that contains 3D printer code (generated from your CAD model) into the machine; the DreamVendor then prints your 3D part and dispenses it into a bin when it’s finished.
“In addition, the DreamVendor houses physical examples of the latest research by the members of the DREAMS Lab. We hope that the DreamVendor will provide students with an easy way to access the exciting field of additive manufacturing.”
In a video recorded last year, just a few weeks after the unveiling the DreamVendor, a university graduate student notes that the kiosk has been running nearly all the time. Any why not? You can always print your own designs, but if a peer creates something that interests you, it’s a snap to create a duplicate of the object.