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The best workflow software for Fab-Labs and Makerspaces

July 21, 2021

Duke University is home to one of the largest 3D printing networks in US academia. Over 120 3D printers are accessible by an entire student body enabling the prototyping and production of countless ideas and inventions. Applications vary with interest but it ranges from anywhere between entrepreneurial engineering to architectural modeling and beyond. Duke’s Fab-Lab has found a way to democratize 3D printing by adopting cutting edge hardware technologies and combining it with sophisticated workflow software solutions that make 3D printing simple and approachable for all academic disciplines in their campus.  We sat down with Chip Bobbert, CoLab Architect and Senior Technologist, to learn more on how they are managing their 3D printing network maker spaces.

 

Bobbert, former Command Center Specialist for the US Marine Corps, began working at Duke University in 2013 after spending two decades as a media technology engineer. His experience in conventional machining, media technology, 3D printing and education drives his ability to manage and improve the Duke CoLab.

What is so special about the Duke 3D printing network?  “Duke is a geographically large campus, approximately 3,500 developed acres. We have three maker spaces, consisting of approximately 80 printers, while our sister labs are assigned to specific programs located in multiple locations. With over 120 total printers on campus, we have found a way to simplify 3D printing and enable access to over 2,500 students year-over-year. Our maker spaces are predominantly filled with a range of Ultimaker 3D printers and our collective network is powered by 3D Control Systems’, 3DPrinterOS software solution. These complementary technologies enable Duke students from any discipline to access the printer network and build parts.”

What are the challenges with having such a vast printer network?  “First, we needed to determine how the program itself would work — would students pay for parts? What does scheduling look like? How would we manage it?  Having printers located throughout campus is great but we quickly realized that a middleware management software system would allow us to delegate rights to users and manage the flow of files from a centralized platform. We were shocked to find that not many software options like this existed, considering that there are countless 3D printers on the market, we thought this was rare. 

Of course, the platform needs to function properly but we require an identity management capability that allows us to authenticate users from anywhere and be monitored from one location.” 

How did Duke solve this challenge and what does access look like today?  “After searching for a software platform and even creating our own, we decided to try 3DPrinterOS. The printer management functionality is good but the real benefit is user management. There are thousands of unique users every year so we need software that would integrate into our system and accommodate that type of turnover. Let’s face it, designing for 3D printing can be complex but the printers themselves are typically low IQ systems that require a boost for ultimate connectivity and user optimization. 3DPrinterOS helps us accomplish that and now, we are expanding access to 3D printing way beyond the engineering department. Inventioning is possible for designers, architects, sculptures, artists and more.”

What is the future of 3D printing at Duke? “Convenience is key. How can we make 3D printing as simple and easy as 2D printing? The software platform is a powerful tool that democratizes access to the 3D printer network but we need to get closer to printing something with a single click of a button. Nobody cares about the printer, they care about their designs and parts. As a 3D printer evangelist, I understand this and believe that if we continue to simplify the process then it will become much more convenient and accessible. 3D printing has the ability to unlock so many new opportunities for bespoke manufacturing, medical applications, and beyond. I want non-engineers, scientists, doctors, and anyone else to have the ability to get parts in hand.” 

Learn more about Duke University, Ultimaker, and 3D Control Systems’ 3DPrinterOS platform for managing makerspaces. 

3D Control Systems Introducing New UI for 3DPrinterOS Platform

July 15, 2021

After receiving users feedback, 3DPrinterOS sports a fresh, new design that looks even more professional and user friendly. We’ve reorganized information in a clearer format, updated the color palette, and designed processes that use fewer clicks. The ultimate goal for 3DPrinterOS is to give a superior customer experience.

What we’ve improved

We’ve used cutting-edge technologies to decrease page loading speeds by more than three times which helps our customers innovate faster! Our aspiration is to continue to be the #1 3Dprinter management platform in the industry.

Our main focus is to keep the core functionality consistent, while giving the platform a cleaner look. We’ve decreased the number of buttons significantly, which will streamline your workflow.

 

 

We’ve also developed a smart system for choosing the right slicer for your 3D printer. The system will now know which slicer you’ll need, based on your current 3D printers and the last used application (Magic Fix or STL Editor).

We’re also happy to announce the Analyze feature in the STL Editor (Layout). This will help you analyze if the model’s first layer is touching the build plate, if supports are needed, infill recommendations and if there are any mesh holes.

You can now toggle ‘’Show hosts’’ in the Printers tab. This will help you by clearing the extra information from your screen, when it’s necessary.


More improvements:

 

Go check out the new experience and don’t forget to leave us feedback through the snippet on the right side of the screen.

Here’s some feedback from one of our longtime customers Chip Bobbert, the Digital Fabrication Architect at Duke University:

 

‘‘It’s extremely important to our lab and the industry at large that 3D printing be easy and accessible.  The new 3DprinterOS user interface simplifies access and removes clutter.  Users can now access printing resources with fewer steps.” 


If you have any questions on how to run your organization like Harvard, Columbia University or Google does on 3DPrinterOS, then feel free to reach out to us from HERE.


3DPrinterOS, a 3D Control Systems Solution

The Best 3D Printing Software On One Platform – 3DPrinterOS

May 18, 2018

The Best 3d Printing Software On One Platform – The vision of John Dogru, the CEO of 3DPrinterOS. Microsoft interview with John Dogru.

You can listen HERE or on iTunes

The vision is simple, one 3d printing platform that brings all the fragmented and disparate software together, allowing users to easily print to many different manufacturers, from one easy-to-use 3d printing software interface.

From the time he was a child, John Dogru had always shown interest in technology, often accompanying his parents to their Computer Science lectures at age five.  An entrepreneur since he was studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas, he was fascinated with the idea that 3D printing could one day transform traditional manufacturing and be available to masses.

“I quickly realized (as a child) this mechanical world had a lot of restrictions,” he tells host Jim Brisimitzis in the latest edition of Series A-The Podcast.

Dogru offers valuable insights into founding a business in a still budding field, where technology is just beginning to catch up to the overall vision. He compares it to when IBM DOS first came on the scene. “You need a platform that’s agnostic to whatever printer manufacturer and design tools they’re using,” he says.

3DPrinterOS aims to do just that. 

Show Notes:

 

 

Octoprint Alternatives

March 23, 2016

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.

3D Printing and Education – Duke University Case Study

January 29, 2016

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.

Maker Faire 2014 – The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth

September 26, 2014

This past weekend was Maker Faire 2014 in New York. Often referred to as “The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth,” this years show did not disappoint. Beyond featuring some of the most innovative companies in the 3D Printing world, Maker Faire brings together the best and the brightest makers across the world to showcase the wide variety of projects they are working on.

Here are some sights from our visit:

Enabling the future – Using your 3D Printer to make a difference

September 22, 2014

e-NABLE is a global community  of over 1500 members collaborating to make free 3d-printed prosthetic hands available to all who need them. Many of these hands go to children, who face difficulties with traditional prosthetics, due to the fact that they are constantly outgrowing them.  

3DPrinterOS wins Global Positive Change Award at 3DPS

September 8, 2014

3D Printshow London was a blast!

We we’re incredibly honored that our work on 3DPrinterOS won the Global Positive Change award at the London 2014 3D Printshow. 

Hello London! 3DPrinterOS is at the 3D Printshow

September 4, 2014

Today marks the start of the 3D Printshow in London. This year’s venue is the Old Billingsgate and our team has just arrived in London to enjoy the lovely sights and get set up for this years show.

3D Control Systems at the London 3D Printshow

One Click 3D Printing: The Future of Manufacturing

September 1, 2014

The world of 3D Printing is growing exponentially right now.

It seems there are new printers entering the market everyday and they are becoming more affordable and realistic as a desktop fixture. Yet for people who have yet to have their first incredible experience with 3D printing, it’s remains a daunting process to turn an idea into a physical object.

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