3D CAD Model Organization

I’ve been trying to come up with a way to handle storing and version controlling my 3D models (both from thingiverse, and models I create myself), however i ran into quite a few deadends when looking for software built for this purpose (PLM/PDM), so I’ve figured it would easiest to build a folder structure with some metadata alongside it to go on top of GIT, and allow GIT to deal with version control. While STL files are text, a majority of my models are in proprietary binary formats, but GIT can still at least store the files and provide a history. I figure the repository would have 3 primary folders, parts, products, 3rd party (more or less unstructured). Each part/product would also have an export folder which will store a copy of STLs, and metadata to go with for a specific published version of a model (might be duplicate data, maybe use some type of tag in GIT to represent each officially published version).

  • Parts: not very useful as a single component, but used to create products, or as spare components to some item
  • Products: a grouping of parts to encompass a single object, or a single piece that makes up the object (think one piece phone stand, vs a multi-piece assembly). While these may seem separate in their usage, they will be the final product of whatever is created.
  • 3rd party: these may or may not follow the data policies, things like the ultimaker 2 models/plans and the backblaze storage pod models which are neat to have, but we won’t be applying our policies to those large assemblies. These can also include the innumerable thingiverse models we all acquire, eventually the goal will be to incorporate all thingiverse metadata into the dataset as well to provide details locally for all models herin.
  • Exports: Each part or product can have versioned exports as well, these will be one specific version of the STL, assembly, and tags, allowing a product to reference the version of the export until both are updated to support newer versions or varients.
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3D Printed RPI Rack

PI Rack Mounted in the Rack

I printed out the Raspberry Pi Blade Center found on thingiverse on my Ultimaker 2. This was a relatively easy set of units to print, with a majority of the time needed on it to be spent cleaning up the large number of pi holders. I assembled these with threaded rods and lock nuts. The threaded rods had to be cut to size but in the end, everything was assembled in about a weekend after printing was done. In order to fit RPI 3B+ with the POE hat, I did end up hand modifying some trays, which I don’t have a model for the changes so they can be printed in that form.

Before trimming the threaded rods
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Installing OctoPi on an RPi

3D printers have come a long ways in the past few years. The prices have plummeted for basic units, allowing anyone to buy them. The raspberry pi can be setup alongside a basic 3D printer to enable some amazing functionality. They can allow remote control, management, and monitoring of the printers. When combined with a pi cam, you can even create time lapses of the prints.  To do this, we will be running OctoPi on the raspberry pi.

OctoPi is a Raspberry Pi distribution for 3d printers. Out of the box it includes:

  • theOctoPrint host software including all its dependencies and preconfigured with webcam and slicing support,
  • mjpg-streamer for live viewing of prints and timelapse video creation with support for USB webcams and the Raspberry Pi camera,
  • CuraEngine 15.04 for direct slicing on your Raspberry Pi and
  • the LCD app OctoPiPanel plus various scripts to configure supported displays

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