Cloud Support For Fleets Of 3D Printers


More than ever, 3D printers are being used for small prototype and production runs, and the normal way of using a 3D printer with a single desktop app is becoming more and more out of date. [Zach ‘Hoeken’ Smith] has a solution to the frustration of printing out multiples of objects: it’s called BotQueue, and allows anyone to submit print jobs to multiple 3D printers over the Internet.

The idea behind BotQueue is to allow anyone to send jobs to a 3D printer over the Internet. Queues and multiple printers are supported, meaning small-scale manufacturing just got a lot easier for anyone dealing with multiple printers.

We’ve seen a few 3D printer fleets that could benefit from an online print server for multiple 3D printers. It’s not a project meant for everyone – one 3D printer per person should be enough for just about everybody – but if you’re part of a hackerspace with a few printers, we could see this being used to great effect among your fellow makers. You’re not limited to using the official BotQueue servers, either. You can run your own BotQueue from [Zach]’s git

15 thoughts on “Cloud Support For Fleets Of 3D Printers

  1. Combine this with automated quadcopters with robot arms that travel to each printer location and picks up and delivers the printed product. Then we have distributed automated larger scale manufacturing.

      1. I feel bad that the Raspberry PI has been put in the same position as an Arduino in that it’s used in every project. However, work is being done to support the Raspberry PI as a BotQueue client. I’m not sure about hipsters wetting themselves, though. If you come up with some piece of hardware that can act as a BotQueue client and control my reprap as well, I’d be all ears.

  2. Just having one printer doesn’t mean that BotQueue isn’t useful. I’ve used it to handle many sequential prints. It’s also very useful to be able to print remotely. BotQueue is advertised as useful for fleets of printers, but is also useful for single printers.

    If you check out my blog (see link), you’ll notice that we’re working on raspberry pi support. With a little screen and SD card, you could have on the go printing wherever you had access to the internet. For me, that’s the goal. A completely portable printer that only needs a power cord and some plastic.

  3. I think he reversed the ‘Bot Queue’ and ‘Inter nets!’ part of the info graphic. Unless this means There is a central 3dspool server on a local network that sends jobs to distributed 3D Printers?

    Maybe it is a ‘Make money from home, first buy a 3D printer and sign up to!! Don’t forget our kickstarter campaign!’ kinda thing.

    1. No, because BotQueue is a central spool of print jobs that communicates through the internet to clients. Technically, you could say that you use the internet to talk to BotQueue, but that’s not the point of the graph.

      And it’s not really a kickstarter or anything like that. Nor is it designed to really make money from home. It’s aimed at more efficient ways of controlling many different bots. (Although it can help with just one too)

      1. I still don’t get it. If it is a print server for 3D printers, then why all the fuss about internet integration? Why not just use a VPN for that purpose and save the headache of reinventing that wheel?

        Moreover, why has no one thought up a nice little plugin and algorithm pair that can encode to postscript and then decode on the machines themselves? That way you can print 3d objects directly using normal printer management software. Call it enterprise level rapid prototyping.

  4. This seem useful for even a single , community printer. Lets use a hackerspace as an example but think bigger like libraries.
    You would be able to “order” a print and pick it up on the way home from work. (add in SMS when it is ready.)
    There would be cost associated with the materials etc so perhaps business could pop up with a handfull of printers and basically walk around when they finish and restart the next one. Getting something made would become as simple as picking up your dry cleaning.

  5. >>>>
    Yes, 3D printers and computers. So out-of-date. Get with the times, people! This isn’t the Stone Ages!

    Hmm? What does a web server run on? Oh yes, a computer.
    So how is this doing 3D printing without a computer?
    Even if you use an Arduino, PI, PIC, Arm or other processor, it is still computer sending the G-code to the 3D Printer.
    Quite frankly, anyone who will lie about that will lie about anything.

    a 3D printer with a single desktop app is becoming more and more out of date

    Regardless of the way the code gets to the 3D printer, you are still using a computer or a desktop app. Just because it runs on one of those things people call a server does not negate the use of a “desktop app”. And yes, many server apps which are no more than scripts can run on a desktop. While some people use an OS designed to be a server, for their desktop OS.

    “A rose by any other name is still a rose.”
    And the internet, web, or cloud is still the same network infrastructure and technology.

    It is far past time for people to stop being dishonest about what they are saying and doing.

  6. Seems pretty obvious. I mean, we do this today with 2D printers in an office or lab. This model just shows it being exposed over the web instead of over a network. I would think that the patent issues would be with server architecture since MS and many others already have print servers that do exactly this for 2D printers.

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