Using chromebook for 3D printing?

Hi, I’m a teacher in a middle school where most of the students use Chromebooks. Right now our 3D Printing workflow consists of students sending me the STLs they create (in Tinkercad), then I have to slice each one myself on my PC (i.e. not a chromebook). A few of the students can slice on their home computers, but then I’m not there to help them if they run into an issue during the slicing process.

Can the students use AstroPrint on their Chromebooks to slice their files?
What is the workflow for printing, after the slice occurs?
Can they share/send those gcode files to me without having to download the files?
Thank you for your help!

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Hi Garry, welcome to AstroPrint!
For sure you can use Chromebooks with AstroPrint. We actually have many schools, teachers, and STEM programs that use AstroPrint specifically for this purpose.

The workflow for the students would be something like this:

  • They would first import their 3D designs from Tinkercad to AstroPrint. Within Tinkercad there is an AstroPrint App that will let them move their Tinkercad designs into their AstroPrint account. No need to download the 3D designs…
  • The students would then slice using the AstroPrint Cloud slicer. You might need to give them some instructions on setting this up for the first time, but after that it should be easy. Basically, they’ll need to select the correct printer and material on the Slicing page. You may want to verify the start/end gcode for the printer you are using as well…
  • After the slice: They will need to send you the gcode file. For now, email is likely the best way to do that. After you get the GCODE file from them, you can upload it into your AstroPrint account. From there you can send it to the printer remotely (wirelessly) and monitor/cancel the print from the AstroPrint mobile app (if desired).
  • Alternative #1: If it makes sense for you, you can have all the students share one AstroPrint account. In this case, you can log in to the account after they slice to start the print. Or, you can let them start/stop their own prints. The printing process is very simple at that point. They simply choose the printer and send the gcode file to the printer. Just keep in mind that they would have the ‘power’ to cancel prints as well… For younger students, this may not work as well.
  • Alternative #2: Give us a few months and we’ll be releasing an Education Cloud. Once this is released, Everyone (you and each student) can have their own account, but can choose to share files between each other. At that time, they can slice, then share the file with your AstroPrint account. You can then print that file. With this system, the students can be blocked from accessing the 3D Printers, and instead can only share files to you and/or a print queue. You would manage the 3D Printing process for them.
    Stay tuned!