You may have heard of the concept of a 3D printer farm – multiple 3D printers set up in one location, all working together in a 3D printing factory that can generate hundreds of parts in mere hours. MakerFleet is based at Harvard Innovation Labs and consists of 18 3D printers that customers can rent for $2.00, plus $3.50 an hour. Users connect online to any of the 3D printers, and then have full control of the print job, from print settings to the position of the item on the print bed. Local customers can pick up their 3D printed items directly or have them shipped to them. MakerFleet isn’t the first service to offer print on demand capabilities; there are large companies like Shapeways that work with a network of manufacturing partners to be able to produce and deliver locally, for example, and of course there is 3D Hubs, which allows customers to order 3D prints from their closest participating 3D printer operator. In a way, MakerFleet is like a massive Hub, with one key difference: customers can watch and control their items being printed. Many individuals who don’t live near Harvard will likely still turn to their local 3D Hubs for their 3D printing needs, but a project like MakerFleet could be useful to small businesses who need more than one 3D printer to produce a product but don’t have the funding or space to establish their own 3D printer farms.

Read the full article at | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing