We are, at Fablab Brno, using Fabman service for management of our members, with which we can be opened 24/7 and do not have to be on site all the time. We can manage members access, their training's & bookings at one place and from anywhere. They offer Fabman Bridge which read RFID card, connect to server, look if member can use device and grant or not access to that device. If access is granted, bridge will switch on power for device. This is very good idea because of versatility of that bridge, but it is bit uncomfortable with thin cables which have to by managed near device.
This made us think, what we can do about it in case of 3D printers? Our current system was not perfect as our members would have to slice their file for 3D printer, find out amount of filament from SW which should go through 3D printer and pay this amount in our eshop up front. This had major flaw in failed prints and payment for those and dealing with payments which was already paid for that failed print. We started to think how we can automatize that?
As we have mostly Prusa i3 printer, MK2´s at the time, we focused on those. We knew that printer keep records of all prints which were printed in EEPROM and there is time and amount of filament which was printed. As printer FW code is open source, it did not take so much work to find save_statistics(); function and take needed information from it.
We also need to store these information somewhere and because Fabman had no support for this at that time, we met with Raphael & Roland from Happylab Vienna and we ask them, if it is possible to add such thing and they did it. They extended their API for Fabman, so we can store our data and use those as well afterwards.
So our journey began with our development.