3D Printing ProcessesResearch & Education

3DPrinterOS Helps Thousands of Duke University Students Realize Their Ideas

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Managing a large number of hardware devices at the same time is not a simple task. Even in Harry Potter’s world, only experienced magicians like Hermione or Ron Weasley’s mom could cope with this. In the world of Duke University, there is no magic at all, but the need to manage a large number of units, up to 50x 3D printers, still remains.

Every hour, every day, every week more than 250 students regularly use these printers for their scientific work. They create both prototypes and final products. These important developments already surround us today in everyday life: prostheses of body parts, based on X-ray models of human organs, details of various electronic devices and much more. It is important that the students’ inspirations and dreams are not hampered by technical limitations.

Today, the number of their 3D-printed jobs can reach 3500 per month. Such incredible results would have been near impossible to achieve without 3DPrinterOS – a cloud 3D printer management system. It solves important problems like the exclusion of printer downtime, print queues and file management, calculation of printing time and the filament used. For such a large network of printers and users like the Duke University’s lab, this is a critical issue.

Technology Engagement Center Duke University
Photo: Neal Vaidya

The printing process can be controlled from anywhere in the world. The user-friendly interface shows at what stage the printing process is and the live stream will show the actual state of the model. Thus, students do not need to be in the laboratory constantly.

3DPrinterOS includes unique tools that allow the user to upload, fix and prepare files for printing on a particular printer model without using other software.

In addition, direct upload to the cloud and direct print plugins for popular CAD systems like SolidWorks, Fusion 360, SolidEdge, Inventor, Catia, and Rhinoceros greatly facilitate and accelerate the work with models.

All these tools allowed Duke University’s 3D printing lab to increase the number of printers involved in the work by almost seven times and to spend more than 1000 kg of material in the last 20 months. Impressive results for the team, whose limit was 8x printers and 150 print jobs per month before the 3DPrinterOS. Is this not magical?

3DPrinterOS will be presenting at the Construct3D 2017 inaugural national conference on digital fabrication which Duke University will be hosting from May 5th to 7th. This three-day conference will focus how 3D printing can be implemented in higher education, K-12 and community institutions.

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