AI 3D bioprinting company Aether has signed a two-year agreement with consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble to develop state-of-the-art 3D printing and AI technologies. The collaboration will use Aether’s existing 3D bioprinting platform—the Aether 1—to develop additional hardware and software capabilities to improve P&G’s product research workflow.
San Francisco-based Aether is known in the additive industry for its AI-driven 3D printing technology. Its flagship bioprinter, the Aether 1, integrates AI capabilities and offers multi-material bioprinting (printing up to 24 materials at a time) and a multi-tool hybrid manufacturing system. The impressive and adaptable 3D printer can print viscous pastes and gels, most standard filaments, liquids, ceramics and foods, as well as LEDs, lasers and custom tools.
The Aether 1 will be used by Procter & Gamble as a technology creation platform, enabling the development of new hardware and software tools for further automating and improving the product development process. The collaboration between the two companies will also aim to develop the next-generation Aether 3D printer.
“Aether is working with P&G to completely redefine 3D printing,” said Ryan Franks, CEO and Founder of Aether. “It’s no longer going to be just about depositing a material or two in a specific pattern. We’re building something more like an intelligent robotic craftsman, able to perform highly complex tasks with many different tools, visually evaluate and correct its work throughout the fabrication process, and constantly learn how to improve.”
AI-driven 3D printing capabilities
As part of the collaboration, Aether and P&G will develop an interconnected network of computer vision and AI algorithms aimed at increasing the automation for the multi-tool, multi-material platform. The companies also plan to develop new state-of-the-art features to expand the capabilities of 3D printing.
Among these features will be the integration of an array of high-performance cameras and custom designed hardware which will enable real-time, in-situ print monitoring with dynamic smart responses for parameter adjustments and error corrections. Other features in development include automatic post-processing; object recognition and manipulation; automated multi-tool hybrid manufacturing processes and a new user interface that will allow users to interact with the 3D printer in new ways.
Machine learning and beyond
On the software front, Aether is developing tools to automate image processing for Procter & Gamble researchers to enable them to do reduce manual steps and speed up processing times. The 3D printer manufacturer will use deep learning techniques to train multiple neural networks—including convolutional neural networks, deep residual networks and generative query networks—for high-accuracy automatic 2D to 3D file conversion.
Ultimately, Aether aims to revolutionize 3D printing by combining AI and robotics to unlock opportunities in multi-material, hybrid additive manufacturing. With the ability to easily produce complex structures using a broad range of materials and tools, scientists and researchers could test ideas more rapidly and more effectively.