UPDATE: Managing 3d printer workflow (how do you keep all the eager users happy?)

UPDATE: I originally published this in October of 2012 and it’s due for a refresh.  Here’s what’s changed:

1. I’m still using this Google form to accept tinkercad.com designs.  I have removed the color option for two reasons:

a. changing filament and organizing print jobs by color was increasing the time required for me to manage the print queue.   I’m now working in white ABS for consistency and efficiency.

b. want a specific color?  I find that spray paint yields a much better finish than the striations visible in a plain print.  The paint reduces the layering and, when combined with acetone treatment, results in better aesthetics for the final piece.

2. due to maintenance, wear and tear and onoging leveling issues our Makerbot has been retired.  We now have three UP PLUS 2 printers and they require that each print job is initiated from a computer.  Solution?  Three aging netbooks now feed the print jobs to each printer.  Note that once the the print job is underway you can disconnect the computer from the UP printer.   The idea of giving trusted students access to run print jobs still holds true – they can also serve as gatekeepers.

3. group print jobs: I work to group designs together in the same print run.  This reduces the time lost configuring, pre-heating and removing individual finished parts.  The same point below still holds true: if you trust your 3d printer to run unattended then start those 6 hour+ print jobs so that they run overnight.

ORIGINAL POST: Our classroom Makerbot arrived last May and it’s a rare day that it isn’t printing non-stop. The challenge that I continue to face: how to manage a shared 3d printer? My last class just generated 12 new designs!

In my last post I dreamt about adding a print queue as a feature to address this management issue. Until then, here’s how I manage a heavy volume of print jobs for our Makerbot. Continue reading


New material for the classroom 3d printer: Taulman 618

In the next few days we will start working with Taulman 618 3d printing filament.  We’ve been working with ABS for about three years now and are excited to try out some new material.

This nylon based material offers several features to the designer that will expand the type of work my students can create.  In addition to being a low or no fume product, Taulman 618 also promises to be  Continue reading

Guns and 3d printing – my take

This past weekend I worked a 3d printing booth at my kids’ elementary school carnival.  It was wonderful to watch scores of 6 to 10 year olds creating in Tinkercad.  I’m still catching up on printing their work.

Defense-Distributed-Liberator-3D-printed-gun-by-Cody-WilsonWhy it’s in the news again: While the kids’ were building the parents wanted to talk 3d printing.  Guns and 3d printing.  Senator Schumer (D-NY) is seeking an extension to the 25 year old Undetectable Weapons Act.  This act bans manufacturers from creating weapons that are undetectable by metal detectors.  The frequently referenced 3d printed Liberator handgun plans do include provisions for the owner to install a metal slug thus making the weapon detectable. That bit of the installation process is in control of the builder.  And the folks at Defense Distributed aren’t the only producers of 3d printed plans for guns or gun parts.

I’ve been using a Makerbot Replicator dual for a year and a half and Continue reading

Alternatives to the “3d printed gun” thread

3d printed guns are in the news again.  It goes like this:

“Hey I heard you have a 3d printer.  Have you printed a gun yet?” Yawn.

So I offer you these cool stories to turn the conversation back to 3d printing greatness.  Then you can say, “Yeah the 3d printed gun is something but have you heard about…” Continue reading