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Inventions 2018, 3(3), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/inventions3030056

Low-Level Control of 3D Printers from the Cloud: A Step toward 3D Printer Control as a Service

Smart and Sustainable Automation Research Lab., University of Michigan, 2350 Hayward St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2125, USA
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Received: 13 July 2018 / Revised: 9 August 2018 / Accepted: 17 August 2018 / Published: 19 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in 3-D Printing)
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Abstract

Control as a Service (CaaS) is an emerging paradigm where low-level control of a device is moved from a local controller to the Cloud, and provided to the device as an on-demand service. Among its many benefits, CaaS gives the device access to advanced control algorithms which may not be executable on a local controller due to computational limitations. As a step toward 3D printer CaaS, this paper demonstrates the control of a 3D printer by streaming low-level stepper motor commands (as opposed to high-level G-codes) directly from the Cloud to the printer. The printer is located at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, while its stepper motor commands are calculated using an advanced motion control algorithm running on Google Cloud computers in South Carolina and Australia. The stepper motor commands are sent over the internet using the user datagram protocol (UDP) and buffered to mitigate transmission delays; checks are included to ensure accuracy and completeness of the transmitted data. All but one part printed using the cloud-based controller in both locations were hitch free (i.e., no pauses due to excessive transmission delays). Moreover, using the cloud-based controller, the parts printed up to 54% faster than using a standard local controller, without loss of accuracy. View Full-Text
Keywords: Control as a Service; cloud computing; cloud manufacturing; additive manufacturing; smart manufacturing; Industry 4.0; internet of things Control as a Service; cloud computing; cloud manufacturing; additive manufacturing; smart manufacturing; Industry 4.0; internet of things
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Okwudire, C.E.; Huggi, S.; Supe, S.; Huang, C.; Zeng, B. Low-Level Control of 3D Printers from the Cloud: A Step toward 3D Printer Control as a Service. Inventions 2018, 3, 56.

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