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Posted · Printer Groups - issues with unwanted Groups

Hello,

 

I am not sure if this is a topic that would fall under this digital factory topic (since as far as I know, we don't have one created), but I had to ask some questions and this seemed like a good place to start.

 

We have six of the S5 printers deployed around our building, and our INTENT was for them to all be individually accessible via Cura for our engineers.  Unfortunately, we have been running into issues where printers are getting (inadvertently) grouped together, and this makes them inaccessible via Cura (a message pops up in Cura saying that the printer can't be connected to because it is not the group host).  It appears that this grouping can be un-done, but it requires a confirmation button press on the printer in question (or maybe the host printer).  This wouldn't be a huge deal, other than needed to trek across the building to push said button.  With remote work now, this would now require a drive from our work-at-home office to the actual office to accomplish this.

 

So I have a couple of questions:

- How are these printers getting grouped in the first place?  I suspect that the users who aren't as familiar with the system as I am (and others in the team that helped to deploy them are), and they are blindly clicking a prompt that is suggesting a group, but I can't be sure because I haven't seen the prompt myself.

- Can grouping of printers be prevented?

- Is this grouping method even useful when the printers all have different materials loaded?  Some may have Ultimaker filament loaded, others are using generic PLA, etc.  My understanding of this grouping process is that you send a print to the host, and it relays it to another printer in the group if it is busy.  Is this correct?  How are materials managed then?  Normally, I would connect to a printer with Cura, use the dropdown to determine which material is loaded in it, and then I print with that material in mind...

- Are these printer groups really part of the "Digital Factory", or is this more of a subset of that (since I don't believe that we have created any teams with printers associated to them)?

 

 

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    Posted · Printer Groups - issues with unwanted Groups

    Hi,

     

    Here's some answers to your questions:

     

    - How are these printers getting grouped in the first place?  I suspect that the users who aren't as familiar with the system as I am (and others in the team that helped to deploy them are), and they are blindly clicking a prompt that is suggesting a group, but I can't be sure because I haven't seen the prompt myself.

    Printers will certainly not group by themselves, so very likely someone else in the same network has done that.

     

    - Can grouping of printers be prevented?

    We have released Firmware 6.x for the S3 and S5, which allows you to enable a firewall which blocks all local network access to the printer (and by doing so blocking the ability to group printers). You'll have to use the cloud-based Digital Factory or USB to print if the firewall is enabled.

     

    - Is this grouping method even useful when the printers all have different materials loaded?  Some may have Ultimaker filament loaded, others are using generic PLA, etc.  My understanding of this grouping process is that you send a print to the host, and it relays it to another printer in the group if it is busy.  Is this correct?  How are materials managed then?  Normally, I would connect to a printer with Cura, use the dropdown to determine which material is loaded in it, and then I print with that material in mind...

    Grouping is mostly useful if you want to treat all of your printers a just a single production unit, not caring about which print job ends up at which printer. If you use different materials in each printer, it might be easier to have them all separate indeed and just select the correct one in Cura on the top left when slicing.

     

    - Are these printer groups really part of the "Digital Factory", or is this more of a subset of that (since I don't believe that we have created any teams with printers associated to them)?

    Originally printer grouping was part of "Cura Connect", then became "Ultimaker Connect", and now is part of "Ultimaker Digital Factory". However the grouping still runs in the local network, and the cloud functionality is built on top of that. I personally prefer not to use the grouping (as it can cause other issues due to the wide variety of local network configurations out there) and just connect every printer by itself to the cloud, and then sign into Cura and automatically access all the printers.

     

    Chris

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    Posted · Printer Groups - issues with unwanted Groups
    12 hours ago, ctbeke said:

    Hi,

     

    Here's some answers to your questions:

     

    - How are these printers getting grouped in the first place?  I suspect that the users who aren't as familiar with the system as I am (and others in the team that helped to deploy them are), and they are blindly clicking a prompt that is suggesting a group, but I can't be sure because I haven't seen the prompt myself.

    Printers will certainly not group by themselves, so very likely someone else in the same network has done that.

     

    - Can grouping of printers be prevented?

    We have released Firmware 6.x for the S3 and S5, which allows you to enable a firewall which blocks all local network access to the printer (and by doing so blocking the ability to group printers). You'll have to use the cloud-based Digital Factory or USB to print if the firewall is enabled.

     

    - Is this grouping method even useful when the printers all have different materials loaded?  Some may have Ultimaker filament loaded, others are using generic PLA, etc.  My understanding of this grouping process is that you send a print to the host, and it relays it to another printer in the group if it is busy.  Is this correct?  How are materials managed then?  Normally, I would connect to a printer with Cura, use the dropdown to determine which material is loaded in it, and then I print with that material in mind...

    Grouping is mostly useful if you want to treat all of your printers a just a single production unit, not caring about which print job ends up at which printer. If you use different materials in each printer, it might be easier to have them all separate indeed and just select the correct one in Cura on the top left when slicing.

     

    - Are these printer groups really part of the "Digital Factory", or is this more of a subset of that (since I don't believe that we have created any teams with printers associated to them)?

    Originally printer grouping was part of "Cura Connect", then became "Ultimaker Connect", and now is part of "Ultimaker Digital Factory". However the grouping still runs in the local network, and the cloud functionality is built on top of that. I personally prefer not to use the grouping (as it can cause other issues due to the wide variety of local network configurations out there) and just connect every printer by itself to the cloud, and then sign into Cura and automatically access all the printers.

     

    Chris

     

    Thanks Chris, some of that is helpful, but you prompted a few more questions...

     

    1. Can you tell me what circumstance might be creating a pop-up notification that might prompt a user to group a printer?  I would like to recreate this and screen shot it with some instructions for the users on how to proceed in those cases.

    2. If the printers are connected via the cloud does this pose any network security risks?  I would like to inquire with our IT department about this and see if they have any concerns.  Can you provide a link to some documentation that explains how this works (user management, etc)?  Does this require an Essentials subscription?

    3. Is the pricing shown on your web site for the Essentials subscription a per company cost, or a per user cost?

    4. With the cloud option, I assume that we wouldn't need to VPN into our corporate network to access the printers anymore?  Anyone with an account and permission to access them would be able to see them (this probably falls under #2 above).

     

    I will do some more looking on your site for more details on the Cloud factory option, but I am signing off here from work now. 🙂

     

    Thanks again!

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    Posted · Printer Groups - issues with unwanted Groups
    10 hours ago, jeffroe said:

     

    Thanks Chris, some of that is helpful, but you prompted a few more questions...

     

    1. Can you tell me what circumstance might be creating a pop-up notification that might prompt a user to group a printer?  I would like to recreate this and screen shot it with some instructions for the users on how to proceed in those cases.

    2. If the printers are connected via the cloud does this pose any network security risks?  I would like to inquire with our IT department about this and see if they have any concerns.  Can you provide a link to some documentation that explains how this works (user management, etc)?  Does this require an Essentials subscription?

    3. Is the pricing shown on your web site for the Essentials subscription a per company cost, or a per user cost?

    4. With the cloud option, I assume that we wouldn't need to VPN into our corporate network to access the printers anymore?  Anyone with an account and permission to access them would be able to see them (this probably falls under #2 above).

     

    I will do some more looking on your site for more details on the Cloud factory option, but I am signing off here from work now. 🙂

     

    Thanks again!

     

    Hi,

     

    1. Grouping a printer starts by navigating to the /printers page on the IP address of the printer you want to use a group host, and then add printers from there. That will prompt a confirmation message on display of the printer you want to add. Once confirming from there, the printer will be in the group as a guest printer.

     

    2. Cloud printing is very secure and uses encryption of all data in both transit and rest. It's actually more secure than local network printing, as connections from Cura to the printers in your local network cannot be encrypted (as they do not use a domain name). More details are available in our security documentation. Features like user management on organization level require an Essentials subscription indeed. However in the free version you can already manage users on in a more restricted way using teams.

     

    3. The Essentials pricing is for your entire organization (all users you want to group together under one subscription). If you're an SME, 1 subscription is definitely enough. For more details regarding Essentials I suggest you contact your local Ultimaker reseller, they will be able to provide you with a demo and handle any questions you might have, and if you're convinced they can also perform most of the administration to get you on-boarded.

     

    4. Correct. When using Ultimaker Digital Factory via the cloud, there is a secure connection between the printer and our cloud using web socket technology. There's no need for a VPN connection anymore. If you then also enable the firewall on your printers there is no other way to send print jobs or see the printer status other than using the managed Digital Factory or USB.

     

    Chris

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    Posted · Printer Groups - issues with unwanted Groups

    One more question for you Chris...

     

    I am in the office and thought I would try connecting one of the machines to the Digital Factory.  However, it doesn't seem to do anything when I pick the "Digital Factory" menu item and enter the code I get from the Connect button press.  No printers show up in my digital factory.  The button on the Digital Factory page shows "Disconnect" after I close the window with the code.  I have tried a few times with no luck.

     

    Does the firmware NEED to be at the 6.x level for this to work?  We are on 5.8.2.0

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    Posted · Printer Groups - issues with unwanted Groups
    3 hours ago, jeffroe said:

    One more question for you Chris...

     

    I am in the office and thought I would try connecting one of the machines to the Digital Factory.  However, it doesn't seem to do anything when I pick the "Digital Factory" menu item and enter the code I get from the Connect button press.  No printers show up in my digital factory.  The button on the Digital Factory page shows "Disconnect" after I close the window with the code.  I have tried a few times with no luck.

     

    Does the firmware NEED to be at the 6.x level for this to work?  We are on 5.8.2.0

    Replying to my own comment.  I ended up trying another printer (right next to the one that was having issues), and that one connected just fine.  I went into network settings and reset the Digital Factory settings, and after that I was able to add that printer to my cloud account as well.

     

    So now that I have seen that in action, more questions!

     

    1. What is the typical setup for a large group of people?  Should one person add all the printers to their account, and then create a team (or teams) to share those printers with?  And these are all treated as individual shared printers then (not groups)?

    2. Is there a fix in the works for viewing the camera feed for a cloud printer?

     

    Thanks again!

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    Posted · Printer Groups - issues with unwanted Groups
    10 hours ago, jeffroe said:

    Replying to my own comment.  I ended up trying another printer (right next to the one that was having issues), and that one connected just fine.  I went into network settings and reset the Digital Factory settings, and after that I was able to add that printer to my cloud account as well.

     

    So now that I have seen that in action, more questions!

     

    1. What is the typical setup for a large group of people?  Should one person add all the printers to their account, and then create a team (or teams) to share those printers with?  And these are all treated as individual shared printers then (not groups)?

    2. Is there a fix in the works for viewing the camera feed for a cloud printer?

     

    Thanks again!

     

    Hi,

     

    Great to see that you were able to set up at least 1 printer!

     

    First of all, could you send me some logs for the printer that didn't connect? I'd like to see what's going on behind the scenes there to see if it's something we didn't know about yet. You can dump the logs to USB from the settings menu and then upload them here or send them to me in a private message.

     

    As for your questions:

     

    1) That really depends on the customer. We usually see that one person 'owns' the printers and they add the printers to their account and share it with colleagues in the Digital Factory. But we've also seen that printers are added by multiple people and all shared in a team. I guess it's mostly about who do you see as the administrator of your printers.

     

    2) The camera already works via the cloud. It shows an updated snapshot every 10 seconds in order to reduce bandwidth needed and improve performance (the printer is spending most of it's valuable CPU time actually sending G-code commands to the controller). Do you get another result?

     

    Chris

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    Posted (edited) · Printer Groups - issues with unwanted Groups
    4 hours ago, ctbeke said:

     

    Hi,

     

    Great to see that you were able to set up at least 1 printer!

     

    First of all, could you send me some logs for the printer that didn't connect? I'd like to see what's going on behind the scenes there to see if it's something we didn't know about yet. You can dump the logs to USB from the settings menu and then upload them here or send them to me in a private message.

    I may not have been clear in my last post.  I actually WAS able to get the problematic printer connected.  When the first printer was having issues, I tried a different printer and it connected with no problem.  So I then went back to first printer, did the "Reset Digital Factory" option in the Network Menu, and attempted to connect it again, and was then successful.  So I do have both of them connected.  If we choose to go down this path, I will probably go ahead and do a Digital Factory Reset on the remaining 4 printers before attempting to connect them.  I am not in the office today, but may have to go back in in the next day or two to pick up some parts I forgot to bring home with me.  I don't know if it is worth pulling the logs, since we were able to get them connected after all.  If you think there is still value in that, I can do it when I head back in...

     

    Does this Digital Factory Reset basically clear all groupings of printers locally too?  As I read your previous responses, these printers will still be available locally, and are still subject to the possibilty that other users may inadvertently re-group them locally, correct?  The only way to prevent that would be to do a firmware update to the 6.x firmware and enabling the firewall to shut down local access ,nd that firewall is OPTIONAL in firmware 6.x?  (We haven't done the 6.x firmware update on any of our printers yet.)  

     

    Quote

     

    As for your questions:

     

    1) That really depends on the customer. We usually see that one person 'owns' the printers and they add the printers to their account and share it with colleagues in the Digital Factory. But we've also seen that printers are added by multiple people and all shared in a team. I guess it's mostly about who do you see as the administrator of your printers.

    OK - that makes sense.  A cloud printer can be added by more than one user, but it would be better to have one user add all the printers and then share those printers with the other users?  And more advanced user management is available for the Essentials/Enterprise product?

    Quote

     

    2) The camera already works via the cloud. It shows an updated snapshot every 10 seconds in order to reduce bandwidth needed and improve performance (the printer is spending most of it's valuable CPU time actually sending G-code commands to the controller). Do you get another result?

    I just double-checked the camera feed remotely for the two cloud printers we set up while NOT connected to our VPN, and you are correct -- the camera feed is visible at the 10s update rate.  So you are correct - it is working after all.  

    Quote

     

    Chris

    Thanks!

    Edited by jeffroe
    added comment about pulling logs
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    Posted · Printer Groups - issues with unwanted Groups
    1 hour ago, jeffroe said:

    I am not in the office today, but may have to go back in in the next day or two to pick up some parts I forgot to bring home with me.  I don't know if it is worth pulling the logs, since we were able to get them connected after all.  If you think there is still value in that, I can do it when I head back in...

     

    That'd be great. Usually the logs contain some information about why a certain problem occurred, and if that's the case we can try and prevent it for other users in the future. If you could get those to me that would be greatly appreciated.

     

    1 hour ago, jeffroe said:

    Does this Digital Factory Reset basically clear all groupings of printers locally too?

     

    Yes it does. The Digital Factory Reset basically clears all data related to print jobs, analytics, history and grouping. It does not remove data specific for the printer you're doing the reset on, like current material and core configuration, calibration, and other on-machine settings.

     

    1 hour ago, jeffroe said:

    OK - that makes sense.  A cloud printer can be added by more than one user, but it would be better to have one user add all the printers and then share those printers with the other users?  And more advanced user management is available for the Essentials/Enterprise product?

     

    If you have one person that you deem responsible for the operation of the 3D printers I think it's logical that that person connects the printers to the cloud indeed. Essentials contains more advanced user management by means of introducing the concept of an 'organization' and an 'admin', rather than just loose teams in which everyone can access everything.

     

    1 hour ago, jeffroe said:

    I just double-checked the camera feed remotely for the two cloud printers we set up while NOT connected to our VPN, and you are correct -- the camera feed is visible at the 10s update rate.  So you are correct - it is working after all.  

     

    Great to hear it is working as intended.

     

    1 hour ago, jeffroe said:

    Thanks!

     

    You're quite welcome 😉

     

    Chris

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