Community Spotlight: The Spaghetti Detective

3D printing can open a world of possibilities to any user. Someone without any shop experience can begin prototyping inventions from their wildest dreams or their friend’s worst nightmare. Prop making, sculpture, car parts, and DIY tools are suddenly all at your fingertips. You start simple, and as you get more and more adventurous and bold, so does the finished product. Until one wake up to the ding of your print supposedly having finished, and all you see, is the bushy mess that is plastic spaghetti.

*screams, explosions, sirens can be heard in the distance*

How could this happen? You’d heard the tales before, but you never thought it would darken your door. You rush to the power button and turn off your battered machine. As you sit there, lost in the hopeless tangle of plastic, burnt sprinkles, and forgotten hopes and dreams you realize that your arrogance is only to blame. You should have known, you’d seen the ads and forum posts. What were you waiting for, a sign from the universe? Well if ever there was one this was it. It’s time to use…The Spaghetti Detective.

The Spaghetti Detective is an AI-based 3D printing failure detection system that allows you to monitor and manage your 3D prints remotely, and notifies you if (and when) your print job goes awry. It’s a great cost-effective setup that gives you peace of mind when printing and can save you lots of material (and money) by catching failures as soon as they happen.

Basically, they catch and prevent messes like this:

3D printed pokeball printed in U-HIPS Nebula Black filament, partially finished, with plastic spaghetti in the background

If you want to see their experience with our product (and score yourself a sweet deal on our 3D printing filament on MatterHackers) check out their blog post where they tested out our U-HIPS filament in Nebula Black here:

We’ve utilized The Spaghetti Detective ourselves, so our co-founder Will wanted to share his personal experience with the system.

My home, while warm and cozy, is also the nesting place of a large feline and his dog friend. Moose, my maine-coon mix, likes to hang out on my desk and sleep on his electrically warmed blanket. My desk also happens to be the part time working surface where my 3D printer lives. While the Detective is largely used to catch random failures, the software in this case helped me catch the culprit of my fuzzy housemate and allowed me to take action. How, you ask? I would be happy to tell you…

I was conducting many prints whose duration was well over 10 hours. I left the printer running while I would go to work at our shop some 10 minutes away (my GF was around to help ensure safety was kept, but would not intervene with the printer as it “was below her paygrade”). For days on end I would return from work to find the print had failed spectacularly. I would change the orientation, alter some slicer settings, and try again all to no avail. It was then that I decided to set up a remote print monitoring system using the free version of The Spaghetti Detective.

Basic setup of Spaghetti Detective with a laptop, webcam, and printer

I started a print, left for work, and waited for the alarm to sound. It was well into our workday when suddenly I got an alert! The detective had spotted something awry and notified me. I quickly looked at the snapshot, and found that none other than Moose himself had decided that the printer was more fun to play with than to simply look at. His grubby paws were all over my printer. The cat was getting stray fur into the greased rails, and playing catch with the extruder as it moved about its path. The poor machine, mindlessly attempting to bring to bear a success all while being sabotaged by a less than noble prince of the house.

Let this be a lesson to you all: 3D printing can bring about objects of your wildest imagination, however, diligence and cunning are required. Let the Spaghetti Detective’s AI do all that hard work for you, and print long into the wee hours in peace, knowing that the Detective has your back, even if your cat doesn’t.

Overall, we think The Spaghetti Detective is a great tool to have in your 3D printing arsenal, especially if you plan on running prints that may take a substantial amount of time, and you don't want to be bound to your printer to make sure it succeeds.

A couple of things to keep in mind when using The Spaghetti Detective is that you'll need a Raspberry Pi with OctoPrint installed, a webcam, and sufficient lighting in your printing workspace so that the webcam can properly capture your print to be able to detect any issues. You may need to spend some time adjusting things like your camera orientation and placement as well as lighting, to help you get the most reliable results. TSD provides great documentation and guides on their website to help you get setup.

The free version of TSD comes with 10 free detective hours per month and some basic features like remote printer controls and failure alerts. For unlimited remote access to your printer via the OctoPrint UI, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan, but you do get a certain amount of free tunneling access, which is a great way to get introduced to the tool and see if it fits your needs.

Have you used The Spaghetti Detective for your 3D printing projects before? Let us know what you think of it!

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