AIO Robotics: ZEUS

Designing the first 3D copy machine

Challenge – commercialize a forward-thinking student concept

  • Bring 3D printing to the mainstream consumer through ease of use and appealing, unintimidating design
  • Help a USC start-up translate an early proof-of-concept prototype into a customer-ready experience
  • Support one of the few hardware start-ups in USC Viterbi’s Start-Up Garage

Insights – people want a 3D printer as easy to use as a 2D printer

In fact, they want one that’s even easier. Despite its advances, the mainstream still sees 3D printers with a skeptical eye, almost as if they’re science-fiction. This is partially because they often require expertise and patience to set-up, use, and understand, creating a barrier to entry. Other obstacles include their relatively high price point and aesthetic. DIY enthusiasts’ love of exposed parts and wires aside, many 3D printers intimidate potential users. Meanwhile, the uses of 3D printers don’t discriminate in the same way.  There are benefits to go around–be it to print a toy, a medical enhancement, or validate a design for a business– yet the void in accessibility keeps consumers and businesses alike at bay. AIO Robotics recognized this disconnect, and envisioned that if we created a printer with elements of the familiar, as well as simple “plug and play” functionality, that we could guide the 3D printer across these rifts of varying tech comfort levels.

Process – rolling up our sleeves in the Start-Up Garage

In a mentorship with the Viterbi Startup Garage, we began working with the AIO Robotics team of engineering students. We led weekly design exercises and introduced their team to the principles of user centered design and user experience. Once their foundation was strong, we led the design of AIO’s Zeus prototype, supporting through the execution and launch of the final product.

Results – a new era in 3D printing

  • Zeus’ unified hardware and software experience set the tone for a new era in 3D printing and copying
  • AIO Robotics launched the Zeus prototype on Kickstarter to much fanfare, reaching their funding goal in less than 24 hours
  • Zeus is now in mass production and shipping globally
  • Demonstration of early commercial viability in new fields: the dental industry and healthcare