Printpal Unveils AI-Based 3D Printing Defect Detection Software

PrintWatch, which is a plugin, uses a camera pointed at the build area of an fused filament fabrication 3D printer.

PrintWatch, which is a plugin, uses a camera pointed at the build area of an fused filament fabrication 3D printer.

Basic operation process for PrintWatch. Image via Printpal.

Printpal, a Chicago-based machine learning firm, has launched its new artificial intelligence-based defect detection software for use with 3D printers.

PrintWatch, which is a plugin, uses a camera pointed at the build area of an fused filament fabrication 3D printer. Leveraging machine learning, the software monitors 3D print jobs and determines exactly when a defect begins to form in real time. PrintWatch is capable of tracking defects during the 3D printing process, taking reactive action if necessary.

Its new software offering is able to abort print jobs, turn off a 3D printer’s heat and send status alert notifications to users, according to Printpal. The software can prevent printers from carrying a defective print on for hours, saving time and filament while reducing risk of hardware damage or a fire.

AI-based Defect Detection

The backbone of the PrintWatch software is its computer vision capabilities. By running the real-time video feed through a machine learning model, the software can pick out spaghetti-like defects of various sizes, shapes, colors, materials, lightings and settings. Printpal has trained its detection model using extensive real-world data in dynamic settings, meaning the software will be compatible with any FFF 3D printer.

Once a defect is detected, the software tracks it to see if it is getting worse, and then intervenes. This tracking approach prevents false positives.

PrintWatch also features an Anomaly Detection System that’s always running in the background. This system is designed to detect other anomalies that may occur in a 3D printer. The Anomaly Detection System can be used to figure out the more subtle issues in a machine, allowing users to plan out maintenance.

Since PrintWatch runs all computation-heavy machine learning models in the cloud, users won’t need a high-spec computer to make use of the software. In fact, any system with an internet connection will work.

How to Access Printwatch

The PrintWatch plugin can be downloaded and installed from the OctoPrint Plugin Repository here. The software is also available as an application programming interface for those who want to program custom integrations of the plugin.

PrintWatch is priced at $9/month for one 3D printer. Each added printer is $4/month.

Printpal is developing a locally running version of the software for use on machines without internet connection. This offline version will work in industrial printing operations where network security is important.

The company is also working on other AI-based systems for use with 3D printers. This includes software that optimizes the speed of a build by analyzing the G-Code and software that integrates e-commerce into 3D printers.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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