Zenger Writer V1
Zenger Writer is a cloud-based slicer for The Zenger 3D Printer. A demo is currently being hosted at http://zenger3d.com (use full address when visiting site). This repository contains code for the frontend of the slicer, including 3D object manipulation, slice setting manipulation, a g-code toolpath preview, and a google docs-like array view of all build plates. Zenger Writer V2 is a partially finished rebuild/refactor of V1, with much cleaner code structure.
Zenger Writer has a corresponding backend and WSGI API which slices parts in the cloud, pushes and pulls from an AWS database, and performs other important operations. It can be found here. The entire web app is served with a low-end EC2 virtual machine; note that the application is not optimized for performance as of now. In theory, however, a cloud-based slicer can drastically reduce client-side slicing times.
Over the Summer of 2021, my co-founders and I worked on building a novel 3D-printer called The Zenger. We focused on end-to-end automation for small-batch manufacturing, building off of our own experience with The Canopy, a 3D printed consumer-oriented vertical farm (Kickstarter – We’ve made many significant changes since then). We found that the largest obstacle to effectively 3D printing small batches of parts was the labor requirement – we had to manually start and remove prints, and while it was our project and we were working for free, we spent time equivalent to far more than all material costs maintaining production. The Zenger was designed to remove these drawbacks to small-scale 3D-printed production and make FDM 3D printers a viable production solution for small-scale products like The Canopy.
A simultaneous application we considered was using 3D printers within the workplace. During the Summer of 2020, I was fortunate to intern at Ubiik, an IoT solutions provider. Along with helping design new products, I was in charge of managing the 3D printer, which we were using to produce demo parts in the hundreds (small scale). While 3D printing was by far the most cost-effective means of production (as compared to silicone molds or injection molding), it was still vastly inefficient to have to constantly be removing and starting prints.
Zenger Writer was our software solution. Our vision was to make a google docs-like interface, with many different build plates (the equivalent of documents) in an array on the start screen. On the backend, this allows storage of many independent build plates with different settings, making part preparation easier. Furthermore, as stated above, a cloud-based slicer, in theory, allows extremely fast slicing. This would allow weak client-side devices (such as phones and laptops) to slice just as effectively, further increasing convenience. Most importantly, a cloud-based slicer allows g-code to be sent to the Zenger 3D printer, and updates to come back – we planned to have Octoprint-like capabilities built into Zenger Writer.