I am so lucky in a zillion ways to be able to work from home while functioning in my position as a 3D Printing Application Engineer for PADT Inc., a Stratasys 3D printer reseller and engineering consulting/manufacturing company in Tempe Arizona.
Three things are making this possible:
1 – Awesome management and co-workers
2 – Great high-speed internet connection
3 – GrabCAD Print software, and more specifically, the GrabCAD Print phone app.
Of all the apps on my phone, next to my gmail account, this is the app I check most often, because it is so handy!
First off, I can instantly see the status of the nine PADT printers we have on our Tempe network; I can also check other networks and accounts in other locations for which I have permission. That means I know the status of printers I’m running or want to run, and can tell how long someone else’s job is going to take – a very useful bit of information when it comes to telling a customer or our sales group what printer is open for running a part.
For example, this screen tells me:
– a job is ready to start on our full-color PolyJet Objet500 Connex3,
– one print just finished on our Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Fortus400,
– my job is 43 percent complete on one of our FDM F370s, and
– another of my jobs has just begun on the second F370 system.
I can even see that a print got cancelled on our older F250; in this case, I was expecting that, but it’s good information in case I wasn’t. But there is so much more…
Say I want to confirm the file name of what’s running on that first F370, and get some data about its status. I click on that printer’s name and the app shows me this screen:
Now I see that the print has just gotten to layer 2 of 123 slices total, it started at 1:58pm and it will finish at 6:12pm this evening. It also displays the file name of the part and shows that I’m the owner.
If I slide the image of the printer to the left, I then get the camera view, since an F370 has a build-chamber camera that updates about every ten seconds. Because this print had just started, you can’t really see much beside the build plate (brightly lit at the top), but I can come back to that as often as I like to monitor a particularly challenging geometry – say, perhaps a tall thin part where I added some extra support structure.
At this point I can access several more windows. If I click Job Material Usage, I see
This information is useful if I need a reminder of how much model and support material this print will consume.
The next line offers the bigger picture: clicking through, I see how much material remains in each canister, for both the model and support; it also shows what, if any, material is loaded in the second set of bays. Stratasys printers with double bays will do an automatic hot-swap as needed – a nice feature over the weekend or in the middle of the night.
Here’s another possible status screen: a paused build, where I had planned ahead, inserting a Pause Build instruction in the GrabCAD job set-up. In this case, I wanted to stop the part and remove it, to create a sample piece that exposes the hexagram infill I chose for lightweighting. Another reason to pause and resume an FDM print is to add hardware such as a flat washer to reinforce a deep hole.
The GrabCAD Print App also sends me email alerts (with a chime on the phone) when the status of a print job changes, such as the message below telling me the job has indeed paused as planned:
(I don’t get notifications for other people’s jobs, so I don’t get inundated with messages.)
This real-time information lets me keep track of all my print jobs from my 3D Printing Command Center deep in the heart of suburban Phoenix. I can do 98% of what I need to remotely.
Of course, I depend on the engineers in PADT’s Manufacturing group – essential workers who’ve been in the office non-stop throughout this crazy 2020 work-year. They change filament, load clean trays, run calibrations, remove parts, and put finished prints in our Support Cleaning Apparatus tanks (a PADT-developed system spun off to Oryx and OEM’d to Stratasys since 2009.) That step dissolves the soluble support. (For several of the engineering filaments I run, the support is break-away, and my team takes care of that, too.)
The GrabCAD Print App is available as a free download from the Apple app store. And all of this is in addition to how you can view and interact with GrabCAD Print itself from any computer, setting up a part to print as you sit in one city then uploading the print-ready file to a system across the state or across the country.
Got any questions about the app? We’d love to answer them.
PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.