Interview with Michael Molitch-Hou
The effect of the Internet on global civilization is only just beginning to take shape. Whereas social media is having a huge social impact by enabling people worldwide to share ideas and cat memes, cloud computing is changing the way that businesses do business.
The importance of cloud computing goes way beyond the ability to cooperate on word processing documents and spreadsheets. In fact, it will become the primary method for controlling entire manufacturing operations. In other words, the trillion dollar industry responsible for making all of the products around us is moving to the cloud, offering a ripe opportunity to any company ready to take the reins.
In an interview with ENGINEERING.com, CEO of 3D Control Systems, John Dogru, painted a vision for the future in which all of the distributed manufacturing around the globe might be controlled from a centralized software platform. Dogru believes that his cloud software, 3DPrinterOS, may very well become that centralized platform.
3D Control Systems boasts investors and advisers from numerous successful tech companies, including Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital and members of Google, Box, AngelList, SAP, Salesforce, DocuSign and more. According to Dogru, these experts impressed upon him the fact that one of the biggest megatrends currently taking place is the shift of businesses to the cloud.
A strong indicator of this trend is the fact that 124-year-old industrial giant General Electric is shifting 9,000 of its apps over to the cloud. The conglomerate’s $1 billion industrial cloud-based platform, Predix, is now running on Microsoft Azure, allowing those using Azure to build apps from data running on Predix. GE has already begun connecting such operations as power plants and railroads to the Industrial Internet and suggests that over 20 billion devices will be connected to the Industrial Internet by 2020.
When Dogru launched 3D Control Systems with his partner Anton Vedeshin, the company’s CTO, the goal was to create a “one-click manufacturing” solution. To do so, he reasoned, would mean decreasing the latency that occurs between the designer, production and distribution, which would ultimately mean creating a centralized and efficient hub for managing every facet of this process from the cloud.
This led to the creation of the firm’s first product, 3DPrinterOS, a universal, cloud-based operating system for managing entire networks of 3D printers from design all the way through production and distribution.
Over the course of the past four years, 3DPrinterOS has grown from a cloud-based slicer and printer management tool to an extremely robust platform for controlling, monitoring and auditing large swaths of 3D printers connected over a public or private network. In a demo of the software, Dogru showcased a long list of features that, altogether, make 3DPrinterOS unlike just about any tool currently on the market, including those from much larger and more established software giants.
The 3DPrinterOS dashboard displays a series of tabs representing various steps in the 3D printing process, from uploading designs through monitoring prints via webcam and creating printer log reports. All that is necessary to connect a printer to the 3DPrinterOS cloud, which is hosted on Microsoft Azure servers, is for the machine be connected to a computer, Raspberry Pi or some other Wi-Fi-enabling device.
Once a printer is connected, 3DPrinterOS has a number of built-in apps that can be used to optimize printing, including a simple “Magic Fix” app, as well as industry-standard tools like Netfabb. There are also several different slicers, STL editors, and even the Toolpath Viewer, which allows users to actually visualize how the printer will move during operation.
Mesh repair and slicing are performed in the cloud, saving your computer precious processing power. Moreover, for those looking for basic quick fixes to damaged files, mesh repair is performed automatically, without the need to open up a separate piece of software before sending a file to be sliced.
The Toolpath Viewer makes it possible to determine optimal support structure placement and, as Dogru pointed out, could be a great learning tool for students just becoming familiar with 3D printing to see how the printing is performed.
More powerful is the actual performance of the software. Familiar desktop print management tools like Cura or Repetier-Host might lag when a model is moved, scaled and rotated, while other cloud-based tools will even crash when used by multiple people. 3DPrinterOS, in contrast, manipulates even complex models in real time.
Dogru demonstrated this by manipulating a scale model of a mountain side, with all of its dips, divots and protrusions, but I was able to achieve the same performance with my own model at home. 3DPrinterOS can also be controlled from an iPhone or Android smartphone with equally high performance. However, I am only running a single printer. Dogru suggested that this same power can be achieved across an entire network with many users on many machines, including industrial 3D printers.
Dogru credits this capability to the skill of his partner, Vedeshin, who is currently studying to obtain his PhD in cloud computing. “Most people who try to migrate slicers into the cloud and perform 3D visualization usually crash their platform after 10 to 20 users. Anton has designed 3DPrinterOS’s architecture to be able to digest thousands of CAD files in the same computing time frame window—whether it’s one user or one million users. He has created a truly elastic cloud environment that is ready to scale worldwide to the masses. This took over four years of trial and error to develop,” Dogru said.
This power is essential when running a network of 3D printers. One of Dogru’s prime examples of how 3DPrinterOS could be used to run an entire fleet of 3D printers is that of Duke University, which had a stunted 3D printing program due to a lack of infinite scalability and efficiency to manage more than 10 students.
“Duke began with just 10 printers, 10 students and three administrators. It was difficult to scale campus wide without adding more administrative headcount to manage the process manually,” Dogru said. According to Dogru, students had to rely on the administrators to slice and prep files to their personal standards. In turn, there would be a greater number of failed prints, more printer downtime, and more time in which administrators were occupied providing one-on-one aid to students. In other words, the latency between design and production was needlessly increased.
With 3DPrinterOS, students can auto repair files and load them into the queue, and admins can monitor them remotely. Webcams record every print onto the private server, allowing both live monitoring and the ability to examine past prints for issues. On top of that, admins are able to track filament usage and print duration, and then generate CSV reports containing all of this information, making it possible to charge students for prints and audit lab usage.
“After we began working with them, we were able to get the program up from 50 hours of use to over 500 hours, from 10 students to 2,000 students and over 35 printers—all with the same three admins.”
The productivity is one thing, but, according to Dogru, Duke Co-Lab students aren’t just printing tchotchkes. “What was more rewarding for me to see was not the fact that we had successfully reduced the latency between the designer to the actual manufacturing machines for the first time in history to as close to zero as possible, but that over 10 innovative companies came out of Duke in just two months! By giving over 500+ students campuswide access to building on demand, we realized we unlocked innovative potential for people that wanted to take a product to market like never seen before,” Dogru explained.
He continued, “The technology hit a wide range of educational disciplines. Some students were in the biomedical space: co-founders of the eNABLE 3DPrinted Prosthetic HUB, groups printing body parts, students studying biology and medical physics. Others were electrical engineers and computer scientists building device sensors. Some were creating IoT devices. Some were creating digital clocks. Whatever was in the students’ minds was able to be created instantly at anytime, at the moment of need—and from anyplace: from inside their dorm room or during a lecture. And this is all viewable in real-time, so students can watch their inventions being made. We are extremely excited to see what happens this year with over 2000 students accessing the platform campus wide.”
Your office bureaucrat will tell you that auditing is nothing to shrug at. “If you don’t control your digital IP with just more than a badge reader,” Dogru said, “CIO’s and CTO will lose their jobs in the near future. Every Fortune 500 company internal auditor knows you need digital controls and audit logs to manage 3D printing in your enterprise as you scale. Using a badge reader or having people scanned through metal detectors is not sustainable. When you spend that much money on R&D, you need a way to track all of this, beyond the workflow. You need a way to control this in real-time.”
As 3DPrinterOS expands from universities to enterprise solutions, such considerations are important to keep in mind. The company has already proven 3DPrinterOS at schools like Yale, Purdue and Caltech, and has more recently deployed the platform as part of pilot programs at Ford and Cisco.
In addition to tracking every print that goes through the system, from STL to actual recordings of prints, enterprise users of 3DPrinterOS are given access to an “Obfuscator” tool, which distorts the CAD file so that anyone without permissions will only be able to access a disfigured version of the model, rather than the original. Other features include project sharing across teams so that anyone on a team can monitor and access files within a common project, preventing redundancy and enhancing group communication. The 3DPrinterOS “Virtual Factory” app also enables enterprises to track files from creation to production across various manufacturing machines.
What’s particularly interesting here is that 3D Control Systems isn’t just focused on 3D printers, but on manufacturing equipment as a whole. Dogru explained, “Our vision is not just to control 3D printers. The way I look at 3D printers is that it’s a robot in a box that manufactures. Our vision is really one-click manufacturing. As you decentralize manufacturing, you need to be able to have real-time command and control of these robots in a box and facilities.”
The company is, therefore, expanding to enable the control of not just 3D printers, but industrial robotic arms, computer numerical controlled (CNC) milling machines, waterjet systems and more. In large enterprises, the ability to control the workflow from design to production to distribution can be what Dogru called “a nightmare.” Naturally, Dogru sees the solution as 3D Control Systems software in the cloud.
To expand the utility of 3DPrinterOS for the enterprise, 3D Control Systems is now collaborating with all of the leading CAD developers to integrate 3DPrinterOS plug-ins into industry-standard 3D modeling tools. Now, users of Siemens, Dassault Systèmes, Autodesk and Onshape products will have the ability to export directly to 3DPrinterOS. That way, when an industrial designer or mechanical engineer wants to prototype a part or send a part to production, they can 3D print directly from SolidEdge, SOLIDWORKS or Fusion 360.
Leading Gartner analyst Peter Basiliere likened this capability to the impact of Web-based 2D printing, “Presently users must develop their own tools, although commercially-available software may provide key modules such as APIs to an ERP system. [Web to print] has been enormously important to the 2D printing industry. There are a few providers already working on it [for 3D printing], such as 3DPrinterOS.”
With companies like GE already working to control complex industrial systems from the cloud, 3D Control Systems would be in the company of giants. Of course, to tackle the “Industrial Internet” the way that GE plans to will take some time. However, Dogru’s company is making inroads already through its work with Ford and Cisco, the integration of 3DPrinterOS into industry CAD tools and in looking toward cloud control of manufacturing equipment beyond 3D printers.
“When I hear someone talking about 3D printing, it reminds me of someone talking about hard drives and I think, ‘So what?’ To me, a 3D printer is like a hard drive and we’re software like Oracle or SAP. The software is really what makes it possible to utilize the potential of these machines.” Dogru said.
So far, 3DPrinterOS has enabled the fabrication of over 73,000 parts in over 100 countries, enabled entrepreneurs to manage complete printer farms, increased the productivity of universities and is heading to massive enterprises. While it may be hard for hardware enthusiasts to believe, Dogru may be right.
For me, personally, seeing really was believing. After watching Dogru demo the software, it was easy to understand how the tool could reduce the latency from design to production—for the user of a solitary machine, like me, or for a school with an entire fleet of printers like Duke University. For that reason, I recommend getting a demo from the company to get a better understanding of how useful this tool could actually be.
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3DPrinterOS announces move to Microsoft Azure to globally expand their cloud operating platform for easily managing 1000’s of networked 3D printers, users, and designs in order to revolutionize the fragmented world of 3D printing software.
For enterprises and schools looking to manage the 3D printing process, 3DPrinterOS provides a single, centralized workflow. This makes it incredibly easy for IT managers to give access to 3D printing directly through any web browser. The 3DPrinterOS cloud platform has unleashed decentralized manufacturing and has built over 62,000 parts in 100 different countries in just the past 8 months.
“We are extremely excited to collaborate with Microsoft Azure to serve our Enterprise Clients with its highly secure, hyper-scale global cloud,” said 3DPrinterOS CEO John Dogru.
“It was a challenge to find the right company that had the cloud infrastructure, compliance, security, and reliability around the world including countries like China and Europe.”
John Dogru, CEO Chief Architect, 3DPrinterOS.
“The cloud is transforming entire industries and creating new opportunities for even the most innovative new businesses,” said Senior Director of Microsoft Azure, Nicole Herskowitz.
“The market leading scale and speed of Microsoft Azure helps spur global growth opportunities for companies like 3DPrinterOS who are utilizing cloud computing and IoT connected devices in a completely new model of decentralized manufacturing.”
Nicole Herskowitz, senior director of product marketing, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Corp.
The move to Azure gives 3DPrinterOS customers access to the benefits of local data residency and redundancy providing customers the assurance of a data failover. Database systems and other large data repositories can also have a backup and recovery site that meets the same criteria.
Find out more and get a demo for your enterprise or school at: Sales@3DPrinterOS.com
3DPrinterOS is the largest and fastest growing virtual factory in the world, enabling real-time web to direct 3D printing. Their cloud infrastructure helps businesses and universities of all sizes securely access and manage their analytics, users, files and manufacturing machines from a single interface. Trusted by companies such as Ford and Cisco, and Universities such as Duke, Yale, Purdue, UTEP, CalTech, UMD and UC Davis; 3DPrinterOS has manufactured over 62,000 parts in 100+ countries in the past 8 months.
To support the Pi 3, we reworked our entire 3DPrinterOS cloud client image. The new image is based on Raspbian Jessie Lite and comes with 3DPrinterOS cloud client v5.9.10 installed. This image is backwards compatible and has been tested across the whole product line of Raspberry Pi’s (I.E.1B, 1B+, 2B, 3B). You can see the CPU load test results by clicking here.
Our CTO, Anton Vedeshin, has personally tested it for 50+ prints so far. The biggest one was FormTap3D wine aerator – it took 8.5h with strong settings.
Schools and universities are again sitting at the crossroads of innovation. In the 90’s and 2000’s, the proliferation of computer education in schools led to an entire generational transition towards computer proficiency. Now in 2016, the influence of educational institutions is again poised to make a similar impact on the 3D printing industry.
Whether it’s a college student 3D printing their own braces or developing tumor-cloning devices for more effective cancer treatments, students are pushing the applications and entire 3D printing ecosystem forward.
Despite all this innovation, the task of purchasing 3D printers and deciding how to manage the process still remains daunting for many departments. One of the most common scenarios we see working with schools, is that 3D printers have already been purchased and are simply not being used. Schools have stopped using them because it’s difficult to teach students multiple workflows for multiple printer types, and then manage that process without needing to hire additional resources on an already strained school budget. If only 5 students are able to use a $3000 3D printer and it requires a $50,000 per year lab admin to manage the process then it’s very hard for a program to justify the cost of acquiring more machines.
When looking for software for managing 3D printers remotely such as 3DPrinterOS or Octoprint it’s important to understand the differences between the platforms and how they work.
OctoPrint is a great free open source host software for using a web interface for controlling a 3D printer. It utilizes local hosting set up on a Raspberry Pi to connect a single 3d printer to a web UI so it can be operated remotely. Just as there exists many versions of Linux, there also are many other solutions built on top of the this open source software, I.E. AstroPrint. These solutions are terrific options for DIY enthusiasts and makers who are comfortable logging into a Raspberry Pi via SSH or remotely and configuring the exact settings for their specific network.
Duke University is home to one of the world’s leading programs for giving students access to 3D printing. Duke’s program, which started with just a few students able to try 3D printing on a single Printrbot Simple Metal, has now grown to 35+ printers and over 250 students with access. Their goal in 2016 is to distribute access to 3D printing to the entire student body and faculty.
“We went out and looked at other colleges and toured labs trying to really understand what was working for them and what wasn’t,” said Chip Bobbert, Digital Media Engineer and Emerging Media Technologist at Duke. “Where schools struggled was in providing an easy way to make machines available and manage that process,” said Bobbert.
3DPrinterOS announces private cloud 3D management platform for enterprises at CES 2016. It is clear that many organizations can’t use public cloud servers for the threat of IP loss. Now, for the first time enterprises can deploy a secure manufacturing platform to all it’s employees across the globe with the click of a button that is proven to work through 1000s of hours of testing worldwide. ‘While working on the private cloud we especially kept in mind the security requirements of F500’s and other enterprises,’ said CEO John Dogru, a former Lead Automated Manufacturing Engineer at Dell.
The 3DPrinterOS private cloud is meant for any enterprise and has all the perks of a public cloud. It provides a scalable platform that can easily distribute access to organizational 3D printers, is accessible through a web browser and customizable for unique business needs.
A single interface. Easy to deploy and track
In fact, the private cloud gives Enterprises access to advanced data analytics and they can track the entire lifecycle of every print job, including all revisions and user comments, all from a single interface. Thanks to the efficiency, it’s a huge money-saver for the enterprise. Many big manufacturing enterprises like Jabil, Cisco and Ford have already taken the lead starting to use 3DPrinterOS. They use it to instantly 3D print via a web browser, and produce qualified parts in multiple locations with just a few clicks.
The power of cloud manufacturing
Enterprises face many hurdles when looking to bring additive manufacturing into their workflow. One of which is concerns around the IP created during the 3D printing process and tracking that IP as it goes from design to creation of a physical object. The 3DPrinterOS private cloud solves IP concerns by being deployed within the four walls of an organization and it allows groups to manage all files, users and machines from a central portal. By being able to leverage the power of the private cloud, Enterprises can now easily scale 3D printing programs. Where without the cloud, printers are often utilized by only 3-5 users trained specifically in the workflow that machine, with the 3DPrinterOS private cloud a single secure workflow can be taught to all users.
‘Our goal is to disrupt the $12 Trillion manufacturing market by providing a platform that can help save time and resources even beyond 3D printing,’ explained Dogru. 3DPrinterOS is building upon the success of its public cloud launched early in 2015. The public cloud saw over 43,000 hours of printing across 4,100 machines in 96 different countries.
The private cloud is part of 3DPrinterOS turnkey approach to helping Enterprises enter 3D printing as they understand how each and every business has a unique use for additive manufacturing. 3DPrinterOS team will be demonstrating the new enterprise focused private cloud @CES this week in Booth: 72323.
You probably don’t own a 3D printer yet. Like computers in the early 1980s, it’s an intriguing new technology that hasn’t quite found its place in the home.
However, schools and universities are proving to be a petri dish of innovation, where there is an existing space for experimentation and practical application, as well as palpable enthusiasm for the technology among both teachers and students.
Please enjoy this excellent study reprinted with permission from My3DMatter.
Flexible filaments arrived on the market a couple of years ago and have really broadened the range of objects that can be made with personal 3D printers. While flexibility is a new dimension to the material selection that users can now tap into, this dimension has not been well investigated.
There are many suppliers of flexible materials, and this diverse product selection is also associated with a wide range of filament flexibility levels, mechanical performance, visual quality and processability. Also, there is currently little understanding of how to use a given filament to get the right flexibility for prints, in particular by adjusting the infill %.
This study compares a set of six flexible filaments along various criteria to provide users with a point of comparison among current suppliers. It also gives insight into how to use flexible filaments to reach the right level of flexibility, and the key parameters to adjust when printing this type of material.
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