Duke University has produced some amazing things using 3D printing technology. In 2017 alone, the university has developed a new 3D printable, cartilage-mimicking hydrogel, a technique for flexible digital storage, and a 3D printed robotic vehicle designed to protect motorists and police officers during traffic stops. Duke University’s 3D printing applications are diverse, and the students and faculty almost certainly couldn’t accomplish as much as they do without such a large number of 3D printers – roughly 50 in the school’s 3D printing lab.

Every day, more than 250 students use these 3D printers regularly for both prototypes and final products like those mentioned above and much more. The Duke 3D printing lab is so busy that it can produce up to 3,500 print jobs a month, which could be overwhelming if not for cloud 3D printer management system 3DPrinterOS, which the university implemented more than a year ago. 

“3DPrinterOS…solves important problems like the exclusion of printer downtime, print queues and file management, calculation of printing time and the filament used,” says Artem Sherbynka, Promotion Manager for 3DPrinterOS. “For such a large network of printers and users like the Duke University’s lab, this is a critical issue.”

Since Duke University began using 3DPrinterOS, its inventory of 3D printers has grown even larger, which makes it even more important to have an organized means of controlling the multiple printers. Launched in 2015, 3DPrinterOS has grown rapidly, and is now integrated with several of the most commonly-used CAD programs, allowing users to upload their designs directly to the cloud via plugin. A few of those programs include:

  • SOLIDWORKS
  • Fusion 360
  • SolidEdge
  • Inventor
  • CATIA
  • Rhinoceros

“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,” says Sherbynka. “Impressive results for the team, whose limit was 8x printers and 150 print jobs per month before the 3DPrinterOS. Is this not magical?”

Magic or science, Duke University’s 3D printer farm could almost rival the productivity of some actual farms – without placing extreme demands on the time of the students and faculty working with the machines.

“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,” Sherbynka continues. “Thus, students do not need to be in the laboratory constantly.”

From May 5 to 7, Duke University will be hosting the United States’ first national academic 3D printing conference, Construct3D. Sponsored by Ultimaker and Autodesk, the conference is bringing together educators and industry leaders to discuss 3D printing in the educational sector, including K-12, higher education, and community education. Keynote speakers include:

3DPrinterOS will be presenting and exhibiting, as well. Unfortunately, the Construct3D Conference is sold out at this point – but that’s a marker of success already, meaning that it likely won’t be the last iteration of the conference. Discuss in the Duke University forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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