Boston’s NVBots, a startup founded by students at MIT, aims to bring its education-focused, easier-to-use 3D printer to 30 schools this fall. Today, the company launched a Fundable equity crowdfunding campaign to help make it happen.
NVBots says its product, which is currently being leased by three schools, is the world’s first fully-automated, cloud-connected printer. According to chief executive AJ Perez, that means that users can print objects 24/7 rather than having to be present and wait for each print to finish (as with typical 3D printers). The NVBots printer allows users to print wirelessly via the cloud, and when an object is done printing, it is automatically removed by a robotic arm to make room for the next print job.
The printer also aims to that dramatically simplify the 3D printing process so that students can quickly learn to use the printer, Perez said. To achieve that goal, NVBots includes easy-to-use features and provides full service support to all users, something Perez said many schools are looking for.
Ultimately, NVBots is “trying to promote hands-on learning where typically there has never been hands-on learning,” he said, including in subjects such as math and sciences. For instance, a class could use the printer to create a 3D model of how energy is stored using methods such as wind energy or hydroelectric, Perez said.
The NVBots printer has been used so far by MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, Newton North High School, and North Central Charter Essential School in Fitchburg. The company is aiming to have 100 printers in use by the end of this year.
NVBots has launched a campaign on Fundable to close out its seed funding round. The company has already raised $850,000 from angel investors (who aren’t being disclosed) and is looking to close the round at $1 million via Fundable, Perez said. (The company chose Fundable over AngelList in part because Fundable lets startups say how much they’ve raised without disclosing the specific contributions from individual investors.)
Invented in the basement of an MIT fraternity house, the NVBots printer has patents pending for a number of its technological features, including its robotic arm for removing printed objects.
NVBots is based on Channel Street in South Boston, where it has 30 people working for the company—four founders, two full-time staff, and 24 summer interns, many of whom are working on the design, manufacturing, and computer science aspects of the printer. NVBots is also taking part in this year’s MassChallenge program.
The printer itself is leased to schools on a yearly basis. Money from the Fundable campaign will be aimed at allowing the company to ramp up its manufacturing. Perez said NVBots also plans to explore commercial applications for the printer in the future.
Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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