After much thought and discussion I have decided to change the way we go about 3D printing. Going forward all the printing will be prepped, checked, and initiated by myself or a teaching assistant. I am sorry that this will restrict an individual student's ability to work independently without bottlenecks. 

In exchange, I believe we will have significantly less downtime, many more successful prints, and less wasted material. The printing process remains, unfortunately, intensely complicated and there are so many little things which can go wrong. We've have endured many long periods of unpredictable downtime over the past few semesters as printer repairs are carried out. I've personally logged hundreds of hours in repair times.

I'm exceedingly happy, however, that we now have three printers to work with, as we have added student-built-open-source-high-quality-yet-low-cost printers into the mix. We are poised to explore this fascinating technology in a much more in-depth way going forward.

So, henceforth, here's the process we'll use:

  1. Go to https://dbinbox.com/digitalhand. This link can also be found on the Digital Hand course site at digitalhand.org
  2. Submit your file in .3dm or .stl format. Please include your name in the filename for ID purposes. Notes can be added alongside the model by using Rhino's text tool.

We'll start with a modest goal: three prints each week day, one for each machine, initiated in the morning by me or a teaching assistant. That would yield a max of 15 prints total per week, actually a pretty good amount. Certainly that is more than we've been averaging with all of our false starts and resulting schedule conflicts.

Overnight and weekend printing will go away, sadly. We've had our biggest problems with un-monitored failed prints occurring at these times. At best they waste material, at worst equipment gets damaged. Weird things like filament tangles do happen, which are nobody's fault, but have pretty intense consequences. 

Color of the prints will be purely arbitrary based on whatever is in the machine at the time. If you would like to work with a color of your choosing, I welcome you to, provided you have obtained filament from one of our recommended suppliers. We won't be able to print with material sourced from untested vendors.

I want to stress that these changes aren't the result of egregious misuse or any particular incident. I hope these changes don't dampen enthusiasm for the process. If you'd like to learn this process in immense detail and are saddened to have less hand-on access to the process, talk to me about assisting our printing area, I'll need lots of help, but want to limit the total number of users. I'd like to find a few individuals interested in exchanging some volunteer work for greater access and specific training.

 

All the best,

Tom