Waterloo technology makes 3D printing simple and accessible

Sometimes a new technology lays dormant for a while before it becomes mainstream.

Pablo Eder, CEO of Lani Inc., says that’s what happening with 3D printing, but he hopes to revive it by developing a technology that makes 3D printing simple and easy to use.

A $60,000 AC JumpStart – University of Waterloo award is helping Eder and his team with the research, development, and marketing to launch the Lanibox and move it past the prototype stage. Funded by FedDev Ontario and the University of Waterloo, AC JumpStart is delivered through the Accelerator Centre and provides early stage technology startups with the seed capital, mentorship, and market-readiness tools needed to build a business in today’s knowledge economy.

LaniboxThe Lanibox is an all-in-one system that plugs into 3D printers and will innovate the 3D printing process by making it as simple as uploading a file to print – just like printing a Word document. With the Lanibox, multiple users can connect to a printer, place a job in a queue, pay for a job, and receive detailed reports on the printer’s use.

“We designed the Lanibox to democratize 3D printing and make it accessible to more people,” says Eder. “The Lanibox makes it easier for those who may not have the technical knowledge, resources, or hardware and eliminates the barriers that currently exist for getting 3D printers into people’s homes.”

To use a 3D printer without a Lanibox, the user needs to find a model, download printer-specific software, obtain codes for the printing materials, upload the model, and digitally slice it for the printer to read. If incorrect settings are selected, especially material codes, the printer can easily break.

This complicated process means that institutions with 3D printers need to employ staff to run the printers. To maximize the capacity and versatility of the printers, staff can plug in a Lanibox allowing users to connect directly, submit print jobs, and pay for them all online.

“The true value of the Lanibox is in the software, while the box itself provides a Wi-Fi connection and allows the software to communicate with the printer,” says Eder. “The software takes a very technical and complicated language and acts as a translator, making it as easy as dragging and dropping a file into a print queue.”

Eder is currently working with Velocity, The Museum and Makerspace to perfect the Lanibox prototype. Once finalized, he hopes to take the box to market and make it available to government, universities, and libraries later this year.

He also hopes 3D printers and the Lanibox will be common in schools, libraries and businesses around North America within the next three to five years.