We’ve been hearing a lot about companies working to shore up their supply chains and streamlining workflows during the pandemic as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on businesses around the world. Recently, MakerBot and Ultimaker each launched new software solutions that can help make 3D printing easier to integrate into home offices and enterprises, and now Polish 3D printing solutions provider Zortrax is joining them, with its new inCloud print management system.
This new cloud-based service, dedicated to Zortrax 3D printer users, enables remote control and management of one or more of the printers from anywhere, which can definitely ramp up efficiency and make the systems more capable and easier to operate by single-device users and businesses in offices and large 3D printing farms. As Zortrax 3D printing systems are used by thousands of global customers in industries ranging from fashion and automotive to medical, aerospace engineering, and more, the features this service offers should prove extremely useful.
Before inCloud was officially released to the public, Zortrax itself tested the service out by having staff members manage roughly 200 3D printers at its headquarters.
“Hundreds of different designs, prototypes and test prints are created in our company every day. Our managers stood in need of the effective software to operate multiple devices simultaneously. It was important not only to be able to initiate specific prints remotely, but also to look into the history of the printouts and to check the current state of the given machine without having to approach it,” explained Zortrax CEO Rafał Tomasiak.
“The inCloud system allows you to assign individual devices to a selected group of employees – this is especially important in large companies where one printer is operated by several people. The solution we have created improves the entire printing process. We use this system every day while planning work on our devices. Now we make it available to all users of Zortrax printers.”
The new Zortrax inCloud 3D print management system allows users to remotely supervise the entire printing process, thanks to access cameras that are included in the company’s M Series Plus printers, so they can view the printing live to make sure there aren’t any build issues, pause the print if there are problems, and ensure that completed models have been removed from the print bed before the next job is started. At the beginning of the process, inCloud also makes it possible for users to easily upload their models to their selected printer and remotely start the job, from wherever they happen to be located.
This new inCloud service can help to decrease the number of necessary man-hours that have been needed until now to operate 3D printing farms, making the process much more efficient. In fact, the Multiprint function within the system was created specifically to help businesses that are running larger 3D print farms. Using this function, users can choose from available 3D printers, and manage the exact order of mass print jobs; this way, all models printed on different machines are fabricated and finished (depending on the build time, of course), at the same time.
“There has been a major need for software such as Zortrax inCloud to successfully manage a 3D printing farm in a learning and research environment,” said one of the Zortrax inCloud testers, Philip Pille, the Additive Manufacturing Technical Officer from the Advanced Manufacturing Precinct at Melbourne’s RMIT University. “InCloud has proved to be extremely useful and valuable to us at almost every level of our most important projects. It has made it easy to manage and view the prints virtually and allowed us to easily push out daily modifications across the entire farm with one button click. This is totally unprecedented and has transitioned our 3D printing experience.”
Zortrax inCloud also offers a feature that will be pretty important for enterprises looking to limit how many employees are actually working in the actual office during the pandemic: the service allows you to build teams of company users with access to inCloud, and then assign specific 3D printers to different teams. Really, when it comes to 3D printing models, companies using inCloud could really make do with a single employee onsite so that prints can be promptly removed from the build plate. Everything else can be done remotely.
“We know that models and prototypes created on our printers are valuable intellectual property. Protecting our users’ privacy is one of our top priorities,” Paweł Gulewicz, the Head of IT for Zortrax, said. “With the remote management of a printing process, models are sent to a selected printer or printers through our servers. All the transmissions are encrypted to prevent interception by unwanted users or devices. As soon as the file is loaded on a target printer, it is automatically removed from our servers. We only store basic data (such as the use of material or printing time) necessary to provide users with the history of their prints. We guarantee the highest level of security.”
The new Zortrax inCloud remote print management system is now available for Zortrax 3D printer users. The company offers a few different levels of the new service, starting with the transfer of models up to 1 GB total for free. From there, users can upgrade to the Standard Plan, which allows for transfers of 3 GB models, or the Professional Plan of 16 GB transfers. Finally, the Enterprise Plan allows for the transfer of models up to 50 GB total. These options are renewed each month, and users can always purchase the next level if they need.
It appears that introducing print management systems is a new trend at the moment, as we all try to keep our heads above water during the current COVID-19 era. I’m curious to see which company will launch a similar product next.
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