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Monday, April 20, 2015

New Plate System Lets You 3D Print Like It’s 1989

If you’re of a certain age and certain technical predilection you’ll remember tractor-feed printers. These printers had little sprocketed wheels that pulled long rolls of paper through, ensuring you got beautiful dot-matrix prints every time. 3D printing is about to have its own 1989 moment, surprisingly, thanks to ECHOdrive.
The ECHOdrive is vacuum system that moves a sheet of plastic over the printing plate of your 3D printer. What does this mean? It means that your printer can extrude onto a completely flat plastic surface and then that surface can move away and off of the plate, allowing you to print something else. This is important when you are running multiple print jobs to the same printer and saves time and effort. Think of it as an assembly line for 3D printed objects.
The system manages print queues for most major 3D printers and it offers automated part removal using a vacuum feed system that moves clear plastic over the plate. Most 3D printers extrude right onto a metal or plastic surface and require you to pull the piece off by force – not a fun prospect if you’re trying to print lots of stuff at once. This fixes that.
The company is entering accelerators right now. The founders, Justin Keenan and Kevin Paroda, are still college sophomores at Penn State.
I’m excited to see where this goes. The one of the biggest barriers in 3D printing is the amount of time it takes to manage prints and move them off of the plate. This solves that quite handily.

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