In 2013, Prusa Research ran a 3D print farm consisting of 5 machines. Two years later, the number was bumped up to 16. Then to 75. In 2021, up to six hundred 3D printers run 24/7 to produce parts for new printers. They require the attention of several operators working shifts. In other words: we know that running a large print farm is no easy task. We always wanted to streamline the workflow in our farm - make it more automatized. But there was never the right opportunity.
However, nearly three years ago, we were approached by Czech representatives of the Dubai 2020 EXPO with the idea to bring a new piece of technology to the Czech pavilion. It was an ideal opportunity to go back to our plans for an automated print farm.
We started assembling a new team so we could set out on a journey to develop a streamlined self-contained autonomous solution that would allow anyone to run a 3D print farm with minimal effort.
While we have already customers running print farms consisting of dozens of our Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ and MINI+ 3D printers, we felt there was room for a major leap. That meant developing a new frame for our machines so they could be stacked into a special fixture. We added mechanisms for harvesting and delivering finished prints. And we developed our own print farm management software for task scheduling, data collection and print file distribution.
It was a collective effort spread across several departments of Prusa Research. We took the proven parts from our existing printers, but also added brand new components from machines that are still in development to create a reliable and autonomous facility that can be dynamically expanded to accommodate more 3D printers depending on the users’ requirements.