Jan 29, 2016 | By Alec

As you might recall 3DPrinterOS, known for their 3D printing operating system, has recently announced at CES that they are looking to make it far easier for large organizations and businesses to use their state of the art cloud-based 3D printing operating system. For while many users and makerspaces have already been converted to 3DPrinterOS, larger organizations stayed away due to tracking concerns. As part of this new focus on organizations, they have just released a case study on Duke University’s 3D printing lab, where 3DPrinterOS is already extensively used with over 4800 3D printing hours already recorded.

For the unconverted, 3DPrinterOS launched its public cloud in early 2015, where users can manage their 3D prints, fix, store and stream 3D designs to 3D printers, all while having access to complete data tracking and analytics. It was quite a big hit, with 43,000 hours of printing across 4,100 machines in 96 different countries being recorded by early January of this year. And with the launch of a private cloud, 3DPrinterOS hopes to convince larger organizations of the benefits of their cloud-based 3D printing platform. “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,” the developers stated at CES.

To illustrate its effectiveness, they took a closer look at how Duke University has been benefitting from 3DPrinterOS. As you might know, Duke has one of the largest 3D printing facilities for students with over 35 3D printers in operation, being regularly used by more than 250 students right now. In fact, they hope to extend that access to the entire student body over the coming year.

As Digital Media Engineer and Emerging Media Technologist Chip Bobbert explained, their 3D printing lab was partially based on the successes and problems encountered at other labs and colleges. “We went out and looked at other colleges and toured labs trying to really understand what was working for them and what wasn’t,” Bobbert explained. “What we saw is that there are a lot of organizations who bought a lot of 3D printers and put them in a space and tried to make them available. We found that those universities had a hard time keeping things working. We felt that everyone should be able to send a job over a network and have it que up and delivered to a device. Where schools struggled was in providing an easy way to make machines available and manage that process,” said Bobbert.

And this is where 3DPrinterOS came in, providing the cloud infrastructure and management options for the Duke network. It is now possible for any student or faculty member at Duke to upload a 3D printable file and 3D print it at any of the machines spread out over the campus.  Students can even print from the comfort of their dorm rooms, and watch models get built in real-time via webcams.

According to Bobbert, it was a complete success. “We had over 4800 hours of printing by 250+ students across 2500+ print jobs last semester alone. We were able to track individual users, machines and print jobs across the entire network via 3DPrinterOS reporting features and we used that data to justify adding an additional 22 Ultimaker 3D printers to meet the growing demands of our student body and faculty,” said Bobbert. The management of the 3D printer lab found the data tracking reports to be especially helpful, enabling them to further understand and analyze 3D printing patterns.

All this, the Duke team says, enables them to further help students develop innovative projects and products, and they’ve already seen how 3D printing is enabling them to start their own businesses. “Students are leaving and forming their own businesses and products. They are working through rapid prototyping process and starting their own companies right out of school, just recently we’ve had students create biometric wearable’s based on 3D printed prototypes. The sky is the limit when students have access to 3D printing,” said Bobbert.



Posted in 3D Software



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