Accessibility and Documentation

Disclaimer: I’m writing this up as an example of what the exec team means when they talk about accessible and documented. This is NOT an attack on Digifab or singling anyone out, but consciousness-raising of what it’s like coming in as a new-ish member trying to use a tool

My dad messaged me with an STL file that he would like printed out. I’ve been meaning to learn how to 3D print for a couple of years now, and this looked small and easy, I’ve had 3D stuff explained to me, I’ve read the beginners stuff on Reddit r/3Dprinting, Digifab has had a lot of improvement work lately, I should be able to figure this out without resorting to asking Brendan to do it for me, right?

The following is a stream of consciousness story.

Which machine can I use?
Doesn’t tell me on the wiki straight away, okay, check each page, walk into the room to look at each machine, decide I can use the Up Mini.
How do I use the Up?
Wiki doesn’t have the manual.
Check the Forum, no info there.
Maybe the computer in the room will help?
Had to feel around for the button, why is the computer stacked at an odd angle?
Computer is on, Progisp is open. There is a readme, it’s blank.
Google ‘How to use up mini’ watch 3 minutes of unboxing video. No help, still don’t know what to do.
Google 'I have an STL file, what next?
1st result - All3DP article on the history of STL
2nd result- Stratasys article on how to prepare STL files, need to know which software I have.
Walk back to computer to find out what software is onhand.
Notice there is one called Up! start that up
There is a USB in the computer, could I use that? Nah, go grab my own and get file off laptop.
Load file on Up! software
Print button doesn’t light up, makes sense, I probably have to change some settings.
Try clicking 3D print, setup. no.
Try clicking 3D print, calibrate. no.
Pop-up ‘Vertical calibration?’ Sure why not. Check area is clear, the bed is clean, the nozzle has gunk, not sure if normal or not. Click up on pop-up. Nothing happens.
Try clicking about. no.
Try clicking help. no.
Try clicking print preview, tells me material use and time, that’s good.
Recheck Wiki
Ah Ha! ‘How to use the Up Mini’!
Load spool, can’t pull it out for close look, don’t want to chance breaking it up forcing it.
For every square cm…goes to check the file. Picture looks to be 3-4cm squared? so 45-60cm of filament?
Try to eyeball spool.
Doesn’t look like enough.
How do I change the spool? Nothing on the wiki about it.
Google ‘How to change spool Up Mini’
1st result tells me to go Maintenance-Withdraw
Withdraw option is not lit up
Google ‘how to change spool Up Mini V’
No sound on computer, can’t follow instructions
Switch to phone, regoogle.
Heat it up, how do I do that?
Google ‘How to heat up nozzle Up Mini V1’
Monoprice video, no.
Tiertime video, no.
Go back to Wiki and recheck tool page
“Always make sure nozzle is at extrusion temp” HOW!?!?!
Go back to ‘How to use’
“The Up Studio software isn’t working with this printer anymore”

Ten minutes later Brendan asks if I’ve had any success, tells me the Up Mini isn’t in a workable state at the moment.

Just to summarize the pain points of this area/machine:

  • Wiki pages for the CR10s aren’t up to date and it’s not clear which printers are working from a quick glance.
  • The Up Mini how to use instructions aren’t prominent enough on the wiki page for the Up mini.
  • The Up Mini manual is missing from the wiki.
  • The computer was in an odd position and was left half in use.
  • Instructions on changing filament for the Up Mini was incomplete.
  • An infobox warning not to use Up Studio software was not clear.

I’ll be running through and resolving all of these pain points today, sorry this was so frustrating to work with.