Quoted from http://www.dreams.me.vt.edu/dreamvendor/:

"The DreamVendor is an interactive 3D printing station for Virginia Tech students to enable them to quickly fabricate prototypes for their academic, and even personal, design projects.  

Think of it as a vending machine with an infinite inventory - you simply insert an SD card that contains 3D printer code (generated from your CAD model) into the machine; the DreamVendor then prints your 3D part and dispenses it into a bin when it's finished.

In addition, the DreamVendor houses physical examples of the latest research by the members of the DREAMS Lab. We hope that the DreamVendor will provide students with an easy way to access the exciting field of additive manufacturing. "

Importance of the Work

Creating the first-ever 3D printing vending machine not only teaches student about the technology, but it also "pushes" 3D printing into more public spaces, making it a bigger part of our lives.

Tasks Completed

As a graduate student in the DREAMS Lab, I lead the efforts of creating the DreamVendor. I spent over 200 hours designing, ordered, and coordinating the efforts of lab mates in the creation of this "interactive display."

Skills Gained

From this project, I learned how to not only lead a project, but lead a volunteer project. This is a much different leadership style than projects where the "employees" have some stake in the project - whether it be a grade or a paycheck. Leading  a volunteer effort requires constant attention - service members must feel that the project is moving along and that their efforts have significance. Not only that, but the organization of the project must be such that the volunteers are confident that the project will be completed.  This means that the leader must take care of all the "little details" - those which individual team members would find boring or unimportant but must be done in order for the project to move forward.

Lessons Learned

Overall, I'm very grateful for this unique opportunity to give back to my community. I've learned that, over all, people appreciate service, and volunteer work such as this is very fulfilling. 

Impact of the Work

Today the DreamVendor is serving Virginia Tech as the first and only 3D Printing Vending Machine that the students have direct access to, no training or special permissions required.