Raise3D has opened up their RaiseCloud to third party devices, making it possible for anyone to build a 3D printer farm.
Raise3D has been developing a cloud service for some time now, as their clients often operate several (or many) Raise3D printers in a farm environment. Jobs must be dispatched to available devices, and if you have many machines operating simultaneously it can be challenging to do so without farm software.
RaiseCloud, as it is called, enables Raise3D printer operators to register their equipment online and be able to manage them from a central point. It’s possible to start and stop jobs, slice 3D models into GCODE, prepare 3D print jobs by orienting 3D models, and much more.
It’s also possible to create a “team” of individuals authorized to use the printers, and this makes the farm even more useful as it can be accessed by an entire organization, for example.
This type of intelligent service is now seen in several manufacturers’ equipment. A similar capability is seen in Ultimaker’s and Kodak’s lines, for example. But in general most 3D printers do not have this capability and are thus more difficult to operate in groups.
There’s one catch with these farm software tools: they work only on the vendor’s equipment. Thus with Kodak’s system you can only add Kodak 3D printers; with Ultimaker’s you can add only Ultimaker equipment, etc. The same is true for Raise3D.
Raise3D announced “RaiseCloud Lite”, a method of integrating almost any 3D printer, including third party equipment, into a RaiseCloud account.
The service works through the familiar OctoPrint system. This is an open source project that builds software for a Raspberry Pi set top box attached to a 3D printer. OctoPrint makes a “dumb” 3D printer smarter by providing a way to operate it via the internet, and even including a way to remotely monitor print progress via a webcam attached to the set top box.
OctoPrint is very popular and is used by many to simplify using a 3D printer. But if you have several 3D printers, you’ll need a separate OctoPrint instance to manage each of them. This can make things rather complicated, as you won’t be certain which one you’re looking at unless you’re very careful.
That’s where RaiseOcto comes in. It’s a plugin to OctoPrint that enables interconnection between the OctoPrint instance on the Pi to RaiseCloud.
There’s a bit of setup required to do this, but it’s explained in excruciating detail in Raise3D’s video, which almost anyone would be able to do:
RaiseCloud Lite, as it is known, works with any “3rd party open-source 3D printers”. I’m not sure that’s correct as I would think any 3D printer that can use OctoPrint could use this service.
RaiseCloud Lite Features
Raise3D is offering this capability at no charge to anyone. Anyone can now register a RaiseCloud account and start adding 3D printers for centralized control.
Raise3D explains what happens next:
“Users can slice their models online thanks to its integrated ideaMaker slicer or upload Gcode files previously sliced offline, then send them off to print by choosing a machine that is on standby, and let RaiseCloud do the rest. In the meantime, they can also monitor the progress of any ongoing prints, view snapshots of the printers that have cameras attached to the Raspberry Pi, tweak standard printer settings on the fly like temperature, feed rate, flow rate, fan speed, as well as cancel jobs, prioritize the order in which queued parts are printed, create work orders, review time-lapses and organize Gcode and STL files with ease.”
Raise3D believes the features within RaiseCloud Lite are “essential” for the management of a 3D printer farm, and they’ve waived any limitations to “extend full benefits to anyone”.
RaiseCloud COVID-19 Response
Why is Raise3D doing this? Why are they breaking away from the proprietary 3D printer cloud world into a more open environment?
It seems they wish to support worldwide COVID-19 efforts, where many groups are frantically 3D printing PPE components. Often these are doing by building 3D printer farms or grouping a set of individual machines together.
RaiseCloud Lite can then enable the management of a PPE-printing group to easily dispatch work to individual participants. This is critically important if, for example, requests are made for different components. It’s hard to get all individual participants to switch to a new design, as they’re likely fired up to produce as many items as possible. With RaiseCloud Lite the managers can simply dispatch new designs with ease.
This is a terrific initiative by Raise3D, and if you are using OctoPrint with several devices, this could be for you.