While printers that dispense objects have been used by UC Berkeley engineers for decades, the installation of a new 3-D printer on campus now allows students to print everything from models to shot glasses in minutes.
UC Berkeley is the first university in the world to receive the Dreambox, a wirelessly accessible printer that prints multidimensional objects and offers fast, low-cost printing to students.
The Dreambox was conceived by recent UC Berkeley alumni Richard Berwick, David Pastewka and Pavan Ravipati, along with current senior Will Drevno, and has received massive interest from individuals and universities around the globe.
The team said it created the printer to address current difficulties of 3-D printing on campus, which is available only to students in certain majors for academic projects. The Dreambox is simpler to use than the existing printers and is open at all times, as opposed to the current printers’ limited open hours.
“3-D printers in general right now are not automated in any way, shape or form,” Berwick said. “We’ve taken the headache out of the equation, since we have the ability to remove the problem from printing, and that is user interaction.”
The printer, which has been installed in Etcheverry Hall, allows students to remotely order prints by logging onto the Dreambox website, uploading a file and providing payment to submit an order. Customers then receive an access code that they can use to retrieve their creations from the machine in as little as 15 minutes.
According to the team, the Dreambox machine prints almost all of its projects on the same day they are ordered, as opposed to the standard 10- to 15-day waiting period.
The machine also allows customers to print objects they wouldn’t otherwise be able to create due to a lack of skills or resources. Dreambox streamlines productivity so that customers can avoid having to go to outside companies to develop specialized products. For example, an individual can upload an image of a personalized shot glass and have it printed within an hour.
The group first worked together last year in a mobile application development class at UC Berkeley.
“We enjoyed working together, and we thought we worked well together,” Pastewka said. “We’ve always been intrigued by 3-D printing, and that’s when we got to the issue of accessibility of 3-D printing. Now, for the first time, anyone can use it.”
The 3-D prints are stored in drawers on the machine so that customers do not have to be present to pick up prints immediately.
“What I see this doing is essentially bringing a very complicated technology to the masses,” Berwick said. “The value is in the customization for the application.”
The homegrown project received all of its capital from family and friends of the team, and the team received mentorship from the College of Engineering Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.
The Dreambox team said it is looking to expand significantly and eventually print in materials other than plastic, which the machine currently uses.
“The strongest part of Dreambox is by far the team,” Drevno said. “We work very well together, we’re very scrappy and we learn quickly.”
Contact Claire Chiara at [email protected].