While the idea of 3D printing service has been present since the 1970’s, it has only been in recent years that the technology has thrived, both commercially and in the consumer market. Large businesses and institutions embraced the technology primarily for fast prototyping and research reasons.
Today, the number of businesses and organizations utilizing commercial 3D printers is increasing rapidly and the printers are being utilized for rapid prototyping, rapid production and mass customization.
In reality, commercial 3D printing service is now being utilized in engineering, the medical and dental sector, fashion, footwear, ophthalmology, jewelry, military, education and more.
The printers utilize different technologies and print in a range of materials including ABS plastic, sandstone-like materials, UV cured resins, nylon, and metals including gold, silver, stainless steel and titanium. Scientists are kind of currently experimenting with bioprinting, which is 3D printing using live cells.
But the spark that will give 3D Printing technology the opportunity to burst through the mainstream isn’t software, but another piece of extremely disruptive technology — the cloud. Currently, there are numerous businesses who are providing 3D Printing services through the Cloud.
Have you ever been at home or on the road and wondered, “I wonder how my 3D print is doing?” Did you forget to start that part before you went for the weekend? Do you have many users and several printers and constantly asking, “Who initiated this print?” Wouldn’t it be great to be able to monitor the condition of your 3D printer without having physical access to it?
Since cloud-based storage and spreadsheets are all too prevalent, shouldn’t we already have a comparable option for 3D printing service? Well, that’s where a cloud-based software solution that brings connectivity and accessibility to 3D printing comes into picture.
What does 3D Cloud Printing actually do?
Imagine if instead of companies producing components or goods in their factories in bulk and selling it to customers, consumers can instead simply purchase parts of items per piece via a firm that would produce a single one using 3D Printing service?
Also, what if a person could really design and create his own product, utilizing tools and computer power rented by a service provider, have it printed and delivered? That’s essentially 3D Printing via the cloud, or at least the idealized form of it.
The primary procedure, is for customers to submit their ideas to be sculpted via the company’s proprietary cloud-based program. This manner, 3D printing service becomes so accessible that even individuals who just have access to a good smartphone or tablet may have their ideas realized via a cloud-based 3D printing service.
Additionally, the business may also provide the services to other companies, providing them 3D modeling capabilities with a good 3D Printing quote even without the required infrastructure in place.
Cloud 3D Printing Fleet Management
When a company invests in its second, third, or fourth 3D printer, it quickly finds that the additive manufacturing (AM) process is more complex than it originally appeared.
Having many 3D printers may potentially increase your production, but it also presents a whole new set of challenges: Which 3D printer is best suited for your next print job? If you have to print 10 copies of a component, should you print them all on one machine or distribute them over several? If many individuals need to print components, who gets what machine?
When running numerous 3D printers becomes too intimidating a job, it’s time to invest in cloud 3D printer management software (also called fleet management software or 3D printer farm software), which streamlines the administration of various users and machines to improve productivity and efficiency with a good 3D Printing quote.
What does 3D printer fleet management software do?
3D printer fleet management software allows a user to operate numerous 3D printers to reduce downtime and improve production rates.
To accomplish these objectives, fleet management software must enable the transfer of print jobs from computers to individual 3D printers in an effective way. This transmission occasionally occurs via the cloud.
Good 3D printer farm management software with a right 3D Printing quote can automatically route tasks to individual printers in a systematic manner, taking into consideration printing time, print bed size, material availability, job priority, and other variables.
The program may also notify users in real-time about in-progress, finished, or unsuccessful print processes.
Overview of some of the top cloud 3D printer software choices
AstroPrint is cloud-based 3D printer farm software providing multi-user administration, print queue management, and sophisticated analytics with a good 3D Printing quote.
The third-party fleet management system is offered in three tiers: Basic, Premium, and Business & Education, with the tier defining the maximum number of users, printers, and features, and also the quantity of file storage.
AstroPrint is compatible with a broad variety of 3D printers including specific models from Airwolf3D, Flashforge, and Prusa. It is not (yet) compatible with the newest generation of MakerBot and Ultimaker machines.
Print farm software MakerFleet is intended for home, school, and makerspace fleet management. It is offered in three tiers with a good 3D Printing quote: Basic, Advanced, and Enterprise.
MakerFleet features include print analysis, auto queue management, and user management capabilities, in addition to an online print payment interface suited for multi-user settings like makerspaces.
Polar3D’s Polar Cloud is a 3D printer farm management solution for school and university users. It is intended for the administration of limitless 3D printers, students, data, and courses.
Features include design tools, remote monitoring, and out-of-the-box cloud connectivity, and the program is suited for operating on low-cost, classroom-friendly devices like Chromebooks and tablets.
Polar Cloud is offered on a Basic or Premium subscription and is compatible with a very broad variety of 3D printers, even those with closed systems like later-generation Ultimaker and MakerBot machines.
Repetier-Server is a browser-based, all-in-one 3D printer administration solution intended for manufacturers, professionals, makers, and educators but most commonly used by makers.
Features include webcam monitoring, pricing calculating tools, and a “rescue” mechanism for restarting stopped printers.
PrintAlerts is a cloud-based fleet management system suitable with 3D printers and other equipment including paper printers and plotters. The system offers extensive management and analytical capabilities through a good 3D Printing quote.
A revolutionary 3D printing operating system compatible with a very broad variety of 3D printers, including the newest generation of closed-system models from MakerBot and Ultimaker, 3DPrinterOS provides for the administration of users, printers, queues, files, and materials.
3DPrinterOS is offered in various forms suited for diverse end users: businesses, colleges and institutions, designers and markets, and additive manufacturers.
Features include live video monitoring of printers, real-time material inventory levels, file repair and preparation tools, and the option for cloud-based or local software installation.
BuildBee is a 3D printer farm software solution suited for a range of end users. It is offered in Starter, Pro, Enterprise, and Education levels.
The cloud-based software can be used from desktops or mobile devices and contains features like multi-user administration, queue management, user access restrictions, usage statistics and cost management. It also interacts with Autodesk’s online 3D modeling program Tinkercad and Microsoft Makecode (BuildBee) (BuildBee).
BuildBee has confirmed eleven compatible 3D printers, including the FlashForge Creator Pro, MakerBot Replicator 2 and numerous Creality printers, although there is unofficial support for dozens more machines.
RaiseCloud is a 3D printer farm management tool for the remote control of printing processes. It is browser-based but also has a dedicated mobile app.
Features of RaiseCloud include automatic printing, time lapse video capture, and analytic tools. There is also an emphasis on customisation, enabling users to show the information they need on a customized interface.
The software is compatible with Raise3D printers and other third-party devices using the OctoPrint interface.
BotQueue is a hobbyist-friendly open-source fleet management solution for Mac or Linux operating systems. It is compatible with 3D printers running software like GRBL, Sprinter, Marlin, or Teacup, which covers most RepRap printers.
OctoPrint is a popular open-source online interface for 3D printers that enables for in-browser print scheduling and monitoring. Features of OctoPrint include webcam monitoring, progress updates, and printer temperature control.
How many 3D printers can fleet management software handle?
Various 3D printer monitoring software can manage different quantities of 3D printers for your 3D Printing service. Many systems are tiered, providing basic plans appropriate for 1–5 machines and premium plans suitable for a larger or infinite number.
Some 3D printer farm software solutions — BuildBee and MakerFleet, for example — have tiers priced per machine, so it costs more through that 3D Printing quote to connect a greater number of printers.
Bear in mind that the maximum number of printers is not the only essential parameter when choosing on a fleet management system.
Benefits of 3D printer farm management software
Simplified manufacturing workflow
Operating multiple printers without 3D printer control software may be complicated and time-consuming.
For many companies, this entails uploading data through USB sticks and memory cards; it may also need a manual system for choosing and queuing up print tasks — or no system at all.
Using farm management software makes 3D printing service easier and quicker. Jobs may be automatically queued and allocated to machines depending on user-specified criteria, and most of the AM process can be automated.
Features that ease the additive manufacturing process include smart queue management, multi-user login, and material inventory management.
3D printing fleet management software of the right 3D Printing quote enables customers to leverage the full potential of their additive manufacturing gear and optimize production.
By automatically and systematically allocating tasks to available machines, the 3D printer control software may reduce machine downtime and process a larger number of components in a given period.
For companies processing numerous print jobs each day, this may be a significant increase to profitability: more orders can be completed, while equipment and supplies can be utilized in a cost-efficient manner to reduce waste.
Additionally, print management capabilities like webcam monitoring may assist users to rapidly correct mistakes, while analytics tools can be utilized to detect bottlenecks.
A strong fleet management system provides a basis for scalability: many software packages capable of managing three printers are also capable of managing thirty.
Once the system is in place, adding additional 3D printers is easy and does not need a dramatic shakeup of the additive manufacturing process. The software may instantly begin routing tasks to the additional printers, significantly boosting efficiency.
3D printer farm systems like 3DPrinterOS are compatible with a very broad variety of printers, including high-end professional models, which makes it simple for companies to incorporate larger and more sophisticated machines whenever they can afford them.
Cloud-based print management may help alleviate the load off local computer processors: 3DPrinterOS, for example, can conduct memory-intensive operations in the cloud, meaning companies don’t need to purchase additional computers to handle more printers.
Control from anywhere
A key aspect of cloud 3D printer administration is the ability to operate and monitor machines from anywhere.
This eliminates the need for close human monitoring of printers, enabling companies to utilize their personnel for other essential duties.
The remote control may also avoid potentially expensive printing mistakes (or at least minimize the harm they cause): 3D printer control software may notify users to print failures, allowing them to cancel the print process or fix the issue.
Cloud-based fleet management even enables companies to carry out dispersed production, managing fleets in different rooms or distinct sites – possibly on the other side of the globe.