Using Raspberry Pi to Improve 3D Printing Services

Hello everyone! The summer has really flown by already, and as we’re ramping up for Fall semester, we’re constantly trying to build and improve services here at the Library. During the course of the semester we’ve been working with several students to implement Raspberry Pi’s in our 3D printing services. In case you’re not familiar with the platform, Raspberry Pi is a low-cost, credit-card sized computer that runs a linux operating system and can be used for projects that require internet connectivity, video output, or usb connections.
At the moment we are working towards using Raspberry Pi for remote-monitoring of 3D printers. One of the biggest challenges in running 3D printing services is creating ways for users to see whether there is a printer available or whether their long print job has failed. To solve these issues we are using a Rapsberry Pi running Octoprint to display a live feed of the print in progress. The Pi is mounted to the Lulzbot Taz 4 using a 3D printed bracket, designed by a student volunteer. In addition to watching a print, Octoprint also has the ability to upload and start 3D print jobs, but this setup comes at the cost of additional complexity for new users and hasn’t been enabled yet.
Finding the right balance of system flexibility and usability is a difficult task, but using small, robust systems like the Raspberry Pi allows us to custom build solutions to problems as they arise. Slowly and surely we are building a printing system that is more approachable, with higher availability, and more options for students. Stay tuned as we continue to install new equipment, refine existing processes, and build new projects!
T.J. Ferrill
Creativity & Innovation Services

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