While the explosion in the popularity of consumer 3D printers has been enabled by cheaper and cheaper devices, they’re still beyond the reach of the average university student. But students at Virginia Tech need not worry about such monetary concerns when looking to turn their ideas into a physical reality thanks to the DreamVendor 3D printer vending machine located in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. (And no, the machine doesn't vend 3D printers.)
The creation of Virginia Tech’s DREAMS Lab, the DreamVendor is an interactive 3D printing station powered by four Makerbot Thing-O-Matic 3D printers that is described as “a vending machine with an infinite inventory.” After students load their designs in the Makerbot .s3g toolpath file format onto the machine via an SD card, they select their desired model using the machine’s control panel and the selected design will then be printed and dispensed into the bin for retrieval.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc