For those of you who are familiar with 3D printing, you know that typically speaking, there is almost always one universal bottleneck that must be dealt with – people. Please, let me explain:
Generally, any facility that has a single, or collection of 3D printers usually has more employees/engineers than printers. Because of this, there is usually a severe bottleneck over who can use the printer, when, and why:
When thought about for a moment, there really shouldn’t be a reason why not every engineer (or other interested employees) can use the printers for their own designs and functionality testing parts. The typical ratio for these types of printer set ups in companies is usually 3:1, the reason usually being that they think this is a more effective system. Realistically, that is just putting more responsibility on that one printer operator who has other tasks to complete, making it all the more easier for a queue of prints to pile up from the other designers and engineers. The higher your volume for prints goes up, the more at risk your business is from having parts on backorder. It is explicitly because of this issue why the good people at GrabCAD created their system. With GrabCAD’s ability to allow multiple users to interact with the printers and schedule print jobs in the exact same way, the system now looks more like this:
The GrabCAD system now becomes the company “hub” for 3D printing, the catalyst between engineers and printers.
Being a “hub” is the core concept of GrabCAD; this concept has been fleshed out thoroughly through their website, apps, and resources. Here are the three best features of the GrabCAD brand that will help you remove bottlenecks from your 3D printing process:
1) Remote Monitoring & Scheduling
Within the GrabCAD Print software itself (which is in free public beta), there is a “scheduling” tab that neatly organizes the all of the print jobs within your queue on the specified printer on your network, and even shows time, materials used, percentage completed, and the time and date the part will be finished.
GrabCAD also had come out with a mobile app that gives you this functionality from your smartphone (and there’s also another GrabCAD app that allows you to connect to GrabCAD’s free online CAD file sharing website):
2) GrabCAD Workbench
In addition to the scheduling system, GrabCAD also created a live file sharing system they dubbed Workbench, which allows you to view, edit, and comment on files simultaneously with other colleagues that are working on the project:
3) Native CAD file integration and SolidWorks add-in
Scheduling and file sharing is great, but there is still time taken up converting CAD files to STLs to be processed on older types of software. GrabCAD’s answer to that is complete native CAD file integration, eliminating the need for file conversion to STL. What’s more is that there is even a beta coming out for a SolidWorks add-in, allowing you to print directly from SolidWorks itself.