Aug 17, 2017
As one of the oldest universities in Thailand, Kasetsart University’s architecture department has an established reputation, offering majors ranging from Bachelor's degree to Ph.D. In architecture studies, the ability to demonstrate ideas with high-quality physical concept models is an essential part of the design process, and 3D printing is an effective way of delivering high-quality results with minimal labor.
Siradech Surit, a senior lecturer in the architecture department, explains that students had previously worked with basic equipment and traditional methods of architectural model making, but with six hundred students in the department, this had proven time-consuming and labor-intensive. In addition, hand-made models often didn’t capture the full potential of a concept as much as was needed.
The architecture department was in need of a low-cost, scalable rapid prototyping solution to meet the demands of simultaneous users. Working closely with Septillion, Ultimaker's local service partner in Thailand, the department implemented a cluster of seventeen Ultimaker 2+ 3D printers. Ultimaker 2+ machines were selected because they fully met the needs of the department, with their strong reputation for accuracy, reliability, and ease of use.
The department’s cluster solution was not only creative and scalable, but also cost-efficient, using readily available, low-cost hardware and components to make it. Excluding the printers, the entire setup cost 55,000 THB (1,654.11 USD) and was completely up and running within three days.
“Using Ultimaker 3D printers allows us to see and understand each student's idea fully. They consume less time, and most importantly they help us achieve maximum study potential.“
- Siradech Surit, Faculty of Architecture, Kasetsart University
From concept to reality
The cluster is part of Kasetsart University’s Digital Prototyping Lab. Each machine is mounted on a rack made from aluminum T-slot framing. Using a single board computer, each printer can be managed and monitored remotely. An aftermarket webcam, mounted on a 3D printed arm, extends from the front of each printer, enabling each user to remotely monitor the build plate of their designated machine. Each user can load models to print and control their printer without having to leave their desk.
See a video of the set up process here.
Materials such as PLA absorb ambient humidity and can quickly expire if left exposed to Thailand's humid environment.
The department creatively overcame this challenge by implementing an environmental control system, which not only removes ambient humidity to keep raw print materials in a usable state, but can also remove any fumes from printers. Again, this was created using standard, readily available hardware.
An improved workflow
In its current configuration, the cluster can handle seventeen simultaneous users, where each printer is designated using a booking system. If the department wanted to expand their cluster in future, it is simply a case of fitting each printer with a webcam, single board computer, and then integrating the machine into the core software.
The cluster has also enabled the department to host community events outside of working hours, giving enthusiasts access to the technology. The department holds training sessions every second Saturday of every month for groups of up to fifteen people.
Septillion is part of Ultimaker’s extensive global network of service partners. Each service partner is fully certified and trained by our team at Ultimaker HQ to ensure the highest level of support to all customers, no matter where in the world they are based.
For an educational institution such as Kasetsart University who needed innovative solutions, Septillion was available at every step of the way, from identifying the right products for their needs, all the way to delivery, installation, aftercare, and technical support.
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