The Dream Vendor is a 3D printing station that enables users to quickly fabricate prototypes for their academic, and even personal, design products. The unique "vending-machine" configuration allows students and the public to 3D print their designs without the need for a specialized operator or significant real-estate.
The vending machine is used as follows: the user either creates or downloads a 3D part file and converts that file into the proper format for use in the Dream Vendor, and uses a keypad on the Dream Vendor to start the build. The Dream Vendor then builds the part (over several minutes) and deposits the part into a bin. Finally, the user retrieves the part and their SD card, allowing others the opportunity to print their parts in the same manner.
The unique characteristics of the 3D printing vending machine is the autonomy and availability the unit provides to the user. Instead of needing a storefront or a paid human attendant to provide 3D printing services, the 3D vending machines are in lobbies or on sidewalks, the same places that food vending machines are placed currently, and the user can operate the machine by themselves. This not only reduces the overhead cost of service but also makes it more accessible.
In conclusion and most importantly, a 3D printing vending machine has already been realized in the form of the Dream Vendor in Randolph Hall on VT Campus, has been operating full force for 11 months, and is widely popular among VT students for meeting their 3D modeling needs.