Last week we invested in Ai Build, a London-based AI powered large scale and robotic 3D printing software developer, in a seed round of £1.6 Million, with the participation of SuperSeed and several angel investors.
Additive Manufacturing Market: A Brief Overview
3D printing has evolved from small scale solutions to a direction used in broad application areas such as prototyping, moulding and manufacturing of end parts in the Aerospace, Automotive, Architecture and Construction industries. The terms 3D printing and additive manufacturing can be used interchangeably, but additive manufacturing refers to 3D printing on an industrial scale and
encompasses more advanced techniques that enable professional large-scale production. According to Global AM Market Report, the market is worth over $12 Billion in 2020 and expected to reach around $78 Billion by 2028.
Additive manufacturing creates a three-dimensional object from a computer-generated design by
continuously adding material layer by layer, unlike traditional manufacturing processes where the
material is extracted from the larger workpiece. Until recent years, 3D printing has been widely used in 3-axis cartesian robots (linear robots) in small scale applications and prototyping purposes. The control of a 3D printer hasn’t been a significant problem as it wasn’t much different than controlling a CNC milling machine which has been in the market since the 1960s. However, as additive manufacturing has started to be used in final parts and products at a much larger scale, the printing
process's preparation, monitoring, and control have become a new challenge to meet the desired output requirements. In addition, the introduction of the 3D printers with a robotic arm has moved the three degrees-of-freedom (DOF) up to 5 or 6 DOF in the printing process. Significant progress allows mass manufacturing of customised products with complex designs. That means a much more complex control of the printing parameters is required to achieve accurate results.
The mainstream 3D printing control software is called as Slicer. Slicer software cannot provide the desired flexibility and efficiency in the large scale and robotic 3D printing process due to its limited control. The preparation process can take weeks to months due to the lack of process knowledge, automation, and control. Process optimisation is required to minimise the adverse effects of the "trial and error" approach, such as long preparation time, increased costs, and waste. Plus, it requires significant human labour in the post-process.
Unlocking the Potential
Founded in 2015, Ai Build helps manufacturers and 3D printer producers who want to unlock the full potential of Additive Manufacturing by eliminating its dependency on human experience and
intuition by automating and accelerating the process with a unique technology that enables to build of high-quality 3D printed products in complex large format geometries at lower cost and high speed.
Ai Sync – Toolpath Generation
Ai Build's cloud platform, Ai Sync, combines simplicity with the flexibility to achieve the most
advanced 3D printing process optimisation technology. Ai Build's technology, built through over six years of extensive physical testing in the company’s R&D lab, automates the large-scale 3D printing workflow with multi-axis toolpath optimisation, simulation, real-time control, and remote print management features.
Ai Sync’s user-friendly visual programming interface allows any user to create the desired workflows by adjusting the parameters in the built-in workflows without the need to write new code. Ai Build collaborates with material manufacturers to set parameters that will give accurate results for different types of materials. AI-powered cloud platform pre-optimizes the 3D print jobs, runs the simulation, and provides fault detection by capturing real-time data with the cameras on the printers. The company is working on a new feature that allows simultaneous corrective actions to achieve maximum automatization. All design, project and manufacturing data are collected in a live library that can be shared across the organization to avoid repetitive, inefficient and time-consuming process. As a result, Ai Build has enabled its customers to reduce overall print time by 90% and failed builds by 65% while allowing builds to be 2x stronger.
Unique features that Ai Build offers at every step of the process, from platform capability to end-of-use, include automatic speed adjustment, automatic material compensation, and curvature and
cantilever analysis. To set an example, the platform performs curvature analysis of the design to
identify sharp areas. For a square object, it sends instructions to the robot to slow down around
corners while moving at a constant speed on flat surfaces. This approach gives the robot the ability to maneuver and improves its accuracy, resulting in a product with sharper edges. In the case of traditional slicing software, the robot stops when it reaches a corner and continues by linearly changing its direction without any maneuvers which causes the end product to not be obtained with the desired accuracy. In addition to its unique features, the platform supports more build types, including multi-planar and segmented, and provides broader customer support than its competitors.
Ai Sync – Visualization of Hardware
The game-changing benefits of the platform can also be seen in the hardware integration. Ai sync
integrates with the hardware by creating its digital twin, providing visualization and real-time
monitoring of the process. This allows manufacturers to print parts where needed with remote
printing while saving shipping costs and time associated with the distribution process.
Ai Sync grows with increased usage and becomes more integrated into business operations as
customers aggregate manufacturing data and their IP assets. The company uses its first-mover
advantage to create enterprise-level customer dependencies on its platform that are difficult to
replace by new competitors.
Ai Build collaborates with manufacturing experts such as Weber, Kuka, and ABB and is adopted by
some lead players in the automotive and aerospace industries.
Ai Build’s Co-Founders - Daghan Cam (left) and Michail Desyllas (right)
Ai Build’s co-founders, Daghan and Michail, have extensive experience in geometric optimisation, the
technology behind Ai Build's operations. Ai Build's operations are run in the London office with a
team that brings complementary skill sets and approaches to the company and shares a clear vision
to make Ai Build the default operating system for all additive machines.
Ai Build's unique technology can be a disruptive solution in the additive manufacturing market for
manufacturers looking for alternatives to traditional methods that cannot achieve the desired
efficiency. The company has proven its value by being recognised by leading companies such as
Boeing and Nvidia. As ACT Venture Partners, we believe that the company is only at the beginning of
the significant milestones it will reach. We are very excited to welcome the Ai Build team to our
portfolio and look forward to being a part of their journey in next-generation 3D printing.