Kickstarter: Add AI to All (Most) Filament 3D Printers with AIMS


Just as failure is a part of life, so too is it a part of 3D printing. Print failures are common enough on desktop printers that there are multiple discussion boards dedicated to the community coming together to laugh at each other’s failures. We’re a supportive community. According to the makers of AIMS, who currently have a Kickstarter campaign going, an average of 20% of purchased filament is wasted on print failures every year, and their product is designed to stop that from happening on almost any FDM printer.

AIMS stands for Autonomous Intelligent Management System as it uses a neural network to visually detect print failures and abort prints. Not only does the device reduce material waste but also user anxiety. I recently printed an object that took 80 hours to complete, which means there were three nights for me to possibly have nightmares of the print failing. Thankfully I had only one such dream, but the point is that PFA (print failure anxiety) is very real and this product could potentially help with that. 

It works by using a camera to look for deviations from what a successful print looks like, such as layer shifting, the part disattaching from the bed, excessive stringing, fire and smoke, or an object falling onto the print bed. If an error is detected, it sends a command to the filament runout detector to abort the print. So that is one caveat to the product: your printer has to have a runout sensor or have the ability to be upgraded with one to use the product. They’re pretty common even in affordable desktop printers these days, so most users should be able to take advantage of this AI upgrade.

failed prints AI kickstarter

Big Brain, Small Package

The device is equipped with a wide angle lens so it can observe large prints from start to finish. Its ARM Cortex-A53 1.2Ghz processor and 4GB of RAM give it ample computing power to run its AI while drawing minimal electricity (about the same amount as a smartphone). One of the best parts is that AIMS is self-contained; it’s not connected to the internet, and it can do all of the processing on its own because it has a pre-trained neural network (Nanonet) that was trained by much more powerful Nvidia Jetson AI boards. 

Early backers can get AIMS for $94, not bad for adding a few IQ points to your printer. And it pays for itself in the long run, especially if you run a print farm.

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