3D print requests are flooding in — some info for you…

Chances are, you’ve heard about this little service that we launched last week called 3D printing.

First, we would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their enthusiasm regarding this new service! The requests have come flooding in and have not stopped! We’re rather pleased and excited by your interest in our little 3D printer. 🙂

Time Frames

However, we’ve had a few people emailing, phoning and stopping in, asking the same question, “How long will my print job take?” or “When will my print job be ready?

These are understandable questions. Unfortunately, we have no real way of estimating this for anyone. At the current date, we have approximately 100 print job requests that have been submitted since we launched last Tuesday. To say that we are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of requests would be an understatement. Please know that we’re processing requests as quickly as we can, but the one thing we cannot rush is the printing itself. Even if we were to say that every print job is the maximum of five hours, that’s about 500 hours of printing, which would equal about 21 days of solid back-to-back printing. That doesn’t take into account that we’re not open 24/7 and that if we encounter problems, we often have to restart print jobs after some adjustments which holds up other print jobs.

All we can say is thank you for your continued patience! We promise that when your print job is finished, you will receive an email asking you to pick it up at Lyons. 🙂 It just might take some time.

Colour Requests

We’ve been seeing a lot of people asking for specific colours in the description of their submitted objects. Unfortunately, we cannot honour most colour requests. We generally put on a colour spool for a month (or until it runs out), then we pick another colour and load that up. We do not change colours between print jobs. To see what colour we’re currently printing in, please check our 3D printing page (at the bottom) but be aware that this could change at any time. We try to update the website as soon as the colour changes but if we haven’t gotten to your print job before that spool runs out, you may end up with your object printed in a completely different colour than anticipated. At this time, we’re printing in red, but even that spool is nearly empty and we will be switching to a new colour shortly.

Number of Requests per Person

There have been a few individuals who have submitted multiple print requests all at once, which is mostly fine, but we ask that due to the sheer popularity of the service and the volume of requests we are getting at this time, that everyone limit their requests to no more than four (unless the requests are all pieces of one larger item) and that further requests are not submitted until the others have been printed and picked up by you.

Printing Specs

Some of you have also been including some rather specific printing specs outside of colour and dimensions, including things such as printing with what we’re assuming is a thickness of PLA feed, whether or not to print with a raft, etc. Unfortunately, we are limited by the software and the provided object files as to the printing specs.

We have the following options for quality:

  • low quality (fast printing)
  • normal quality
  • high quality (longer print time)

Most print jobs will be printed in “normal quality”. Please note that unless it can be sufficiently justified as to why an object should be printed at the “high quality” setting, print jobs will always be printed at “normal quality” (or “low quality”, if requested).

Another option we have is whether or not to print with support structures — the only answer is “yes” or “no”. It is a tick-box that turns it on or off. We have no control over what supports get printed, where they are placed, etc. If we feel something will not print without the supports, we will print the object with supports. It will be up to you to remove the supports from this object, sorry.

We can obviously change/scale the dimension sizes (in mm) for height, length and depth for the objects, too.

And finally, we have the option of how the object is oriented on the build plate. We can turn the object a few different ways to try to ensure the print job will be successful. The printer cannot print things ‘floating’ in space, so we have to arrange the object so it minimizing this problem. For example, if we were printing a miniature kitchen table, if you print it standing up (as though you would sit at it), it would likely print the legs alright but it wouldn’t be able to print the table top as the centre portion would ‘float’ above the build plate. If you turn the table upside down so the table top is facing down, that will build as the objects “base”, while the legs will build upward from that. See the image below for clarification.

printingatable

 

That’s about it, however. Anything more complicated than that needs to be included in the file you submit to us, as we are not editing the objects themselves beyond orientation, dimension and whether or not to print with supports (which the software figures out where supports are needed).

Failed Print Jobs

It happens. Sometimes, there are print jobs that just will not print properly on our printer. We’ve had a few failures already. Most are due to the object not having a solid enough base to hold onto the build plate. Some are due to the object being top-heavy. Whatever the reason, if a print job fails, we may make a secondary attempt to print the object after making reasonable adjustments (such as changing the orientation on the build plate and/or printing with supports). Beyond this, we will deem the print job a “failed print job” and will notify the requestor asap to inform them of the problem, then we will recycle the failed attempt(s). If you have the know-how and wish to adjust the item at that point and resubmit it, please feel free to do so. Refer to your original request’s ticket number in the description of your new request so we can connect the two.


 

I hope this clarifies some issues and questions about what we have to work with regarding the print jobs and the capabilities of our printer and its software! If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to email us at media@mcmaster.ca and we’ll get back to you as soon as we’re able.

Cheers!
~ Kelly, Library Media Specialist

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