Tracking and Controlling 3D Printers

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The commercial and educational benefits of the 3D printer technology are huge and it is becoming of increasing interest to our customers and partners. Each day you see more articles about plans to put 3D printers into schools. As a rapid prototyping technology 3D printing has massive potential in education, in industry, and ultimately in every facet of 21st century life.

We’re planning to release support for 3D printing in PaperCut, being careful to be as flexible and extensible as possible, particularly for our education customers. In the meantime it is still possible to support charging for 3D printing in PaperCut. Here is a simple suggestion that should work for a number of organisations.

  1. Enable PaperCut Web Cashier as explained in the documentation
  2. Give the 3D print operator access to web cashier
  3. Create Web Cashier item for sale that corresponds to 10g of printing filament.
    1. The choice of 10g is arbitrary — choose whatever makes sense for you
    2. When deciding on a cost don’t just consider the basic cost of the filament, also decide if you want to add additional charges for 3D operator time, machine wear and tear etc.
  4. Ask users to provide their models on a USB drive or via email to a generic 3D operator account, as suites you. You can choose if users must submit their models in pre or post slice format (e.g. as STL or GCode files)
  5. The operator then prints the model and weighs the final model
  6. Using the Web Cahier interface the user is charged for the amount of printing via their PaperCut account

The benefit of this workflow is

  • Simplicity
  • It will work well with the PaperCut solution when it comes out

Obviously the PaperCut 3D solution will have much better workflow support and support multiple charging models. If you have any feedback or thoughts for us on tracking 3D printing we’d be interested to hear them and to learn which features would be most important to you and how you would expect the tracking to work. For example:

  • How will you bill - On time taken, coverage, weight of material, per item, materials used, something else or a mix?
  • Will you use a single dedicated workstation to manage each individual 3D printer?
  • Would you need 3D print tracking on multiple platforms (Windows/Mac etc) ?
  • Will your users log in to the workstation/PC to commence a print job?
  • Are there any special controls or filters you would need in place?
  • Please feel free to leave any comments below or to email us at support@papercut.com with your thoughts. Please quote Internal Ticket PC-4237 in the subject if you contact us via email.

Please note: At this time there is no commitment to develop features in response to specific requests, but we will consider your needs as we improve 3D printing support.

It promises to be an interesting topic!


Categories: Printers


Keywords: 3D Printing, 3D Printer, digital model

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Article last modified on December 20, 2016, at 06:55 PM
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