Helping your 3D printing lab scale its success
So you've read our 5 tips to increase the usage of your 3D printers and people can't get enough of using your 3D printers? This is a great position to be in, but it does mean you need to think about scaling with your demand. It's no longer enough to have one person dealing with a few emails or walk up requests; you need to tool up for the next phase in the life of your lab!
Minimize errors in order entry. A well-designed order entry system guides users to order the services you offer, and avoids strange combinations coming through that you can't fulfil. Spend the time to carefully craft the way your lab presents it's 'products'.
The goal is to reduce the number of interactions you need to have with a user just to understand what they're after. It's better for your staff, but also a much better experience for users.
Where did I put that sticky note that I wrote with the users' latest requests? Did that file come in through the order form, or was it in a follow-up email?
Having information about 3D print jobs scattered across different systems and even in our heads, results in a lot of unnecessary work and sometimes in errors.
By using a single system where new orders come in, a place where design files across revisions are kept, and where all internal and external notes are shared, you'll always know you have the most up-to-date information about a job before starting work on it.
As your lab gets busier, waiting times may vary for different types of materials as you go through busy times and less busy times. Make sure your users have up-to-date information about the progress of their prints. This way they're happy, and you need to take fewer calls from excited students asking "are we there yet?"
So you've started charging for your services, but the payments are a painful manual step? This is very common. We've heard from some labs that their techs are often interrupted because someone has to quickly pay for a job they're picking up. It's taking up a significant amount of their day that they could otherwise use to focus on sharing their knowledge.
Your 3D printers do not exist in isolation, they form part of your overall IT infrastructure. If you need to account for usage, track it with your traditional printing systems. You're already tracking the use of your paper printing, so add 3D into the same reports!
Using the systems you have is the easiest way to simplify how you work. Get rid of the administrative overhead - no separate spreadsheets, no taking cash payments.
Streamline pickups by having a set location where users go to pick up their jobs. In a trusted environment, this is one of the easiest ways to reduce time spent by lab staff searching for jobs and handing them out. Setting a bin number or locker position, you can easily notify students which bin their jobs will be placed in for collection, even if collection needs to happen at some awkward hour of the day (or night).
Check out these links for a start:
- Check out our blog post about how the University of Maryland uses PaperCut MF in their printer labs.
- And here is a blog post about why we developed 3D printing and job ticketing.
- Job Ticketing allows you to track and control 3D printing.
- See the Job Ticketing Help Center — it applies to both Print Rooms and Fab Labs.