The Bunker is a smart filament storage system. It monitors your usage and keeps you informed with a mobile app.
About this project
Are you frustrated with running out of filament half way through a print, not knowing when your printer has stopped? Do you dream of having professional features of what high-end 3d printers have but with your desktop 3D printer? We’ve created an easy-to-use filament management system that keeps you informed.
3D printers have so many variables that can potentially cause failed prints. Bunker reduces some of the variables of filament issues, so you can focus on achieving quality prints.
We’ve all been there, the long gruelling hours spent waiting for your print to finish, only to find out, that somewhere down the line it failed or ran out of filament without you knowing. Those days are a thing of the past with Bunker. We need to put our foot down and stop filament wastage and print failures once and for all.
What Is Bunker?
Bunker is a smart filament storage system that can be used with your favourite 3D printer, with any type of filament and features some huge benefits:
- Every Inch – Bunker keeps track of every last inch of your filament.
- Wireless – Stay informed when you’re away from your 3D printer.
- Moisture & Dust-Free – Improves reliability & quality of 3D printing.
- Statistics – Print times, duration, success, fails, mileage and more!
- Bunker App – Receive important notifications on your mobile.
- Print Settings – Find the perfect print settings for your filament brand.
Using Bunker couldn’t be any simpler. All you need to do is scan the barcode of your filament, load the spool into the Bunker and feed the filament through to the 3D printer as normal. Start your print and walk away, knowing that it is now in safe hands.
It’s a pain coming back to your printer after it has been printing for 20 hours only to find it failed mid-way. Waste of both time and money.
Staying informed while you are away from your printer is essential, it allows you to respond with preventative measures to combat possible print failure.
Be alerted at crucial moments
A pitfall of 3D printing is thinking there is enough material when in fact there is not. Take second-guessing out of the equation!
When your filament is running low, the Bunker will send you a warning message to your mobile to let you know. It will also let you know when it’s out of filament. This gives you the opportunity to add more material and resume printing. Saving your print job and saving you time.
Be Informed Once Printing Is Complete Or When It’s Failed
Bunker constantly monitors material usage, so it knows when printing has stopped.
“Starting an arduously long print only to find out a day later that the print failed.” With Bunker, you’ll know right away when filament has stopped feeding, whether it was 10 minutes or 10 hours into a 20-hour long print.
Keep Track Of Material Usage
Say “no more!” to filament wastage
You can find out how much filament has been used for the print so far. The Bunker will also monitor how much filament is left on the spool. This is displayed on the Bunker’s screen, on the Bunker app or Bunker website.
When you remove a spool of filament from Bunker, just scan it’s barcode to log out that spool, then Bunker will remember how much material is left on that spool! Take stock of all your filament!
Pause Your Printer When Out Of Filament*
Optional Feature: If your printer has a GPIO for pausing the printer, you can connect this to Bunkers GPIO, so the next time your printer is low or running out of filament. Bunker will automatically pause your printer. You’ll also be able to remotely pause your printer via the Bunker app at any time. There is also a Bunker API, so apps like AstroPrint or OctoPrint could pause your printer too.
Moreover, we wanted to be Hacker-Friendly and it’s why we have given you complete access to all the sensor states and printing information that the Bunker has in real-time. So you will be able to have live communication between the Bunker to your own DIY projects via the built-in USB Serial port. Not only that, we are seriously considering giving you access to this data. Tell us, would you rather receive updates, by HTTP, by MQTT or by IFTTT?
Known compatible Printers & PCBs for pause feature: RAMPS 1.4, Flashforge Creator, Wanhao Duplicator 4, Ultimaker, Ultimaker 2, Makerbot Replicator, Makerbot Replicator 2 & Makerbot Replicator 2X, UP mini 2, UP Box. Even if your printer is not listed above, check if it uses a RAMPS board, you’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised that it will be compatible.
You can still use Bunker with any FDM style printer without the automatic pause. Printers that use proprietary cartridges are not compatible, e.g. XYZ.
Access to extensive stats at your fingertips
Straight from Bunker’s app-based or browser-based dashboard, data collected and recorded during printing will give you an idea of the ‘mileage’ your printer has done. From material used, to how many printing hours it has done, it even tells you what brands of filaments are the most successful.
It is hard to keep track of all the different printer settings for a particular filament, to achieve the best print quality. By scanning the spool barcode, information such as color, weight and type of filament are loaded into the Bunker. The app will also advise optimal print settings (nozzle temperature, print-bed temperature, print speed, etc), as recommended by the filament supplier as well as community feedback.
Filament is static positive and attracts dust particles when left out in the open, which in turn can eventually block the extruder or nozzle. The Bunker provides a sealed, protected spooling chamber, which keeps your filament dust free and prolongs the life of your nozzle and extruder. When printing with PLA you can use Canola oil in the included dust filter to improve the quality of your 3D prints.
Spools which are left out in the open are also prone to absorbing moisture, which can degrade print quality. Inside the Bunker is a sealed environment containing desiccants to keep your filament dry and has a moisture sensor, to alert you of high humidity levels. When alerted, simply just recharge the included desiccants in your microwave for a couple of minutes.
Science Behind Humidity
Before manufacturing filament, most filament is crystallized, dried to moisture levels below 400 ppm and then vacuum sealed with an included pack of desiccant. Majority of filaments are hygroscopic (absorb moisture) at different rates, so as soon as you open your filament store it in a dry environment. The Bunker is the perfect place to store your filament, as it removes moisture from the air and maintains a dry environment. If you filament has already absorbed moisture, you will need to dry it out.
Once a print has finished, you can rate & review the filament so that others looking to purchasing the same filament will know what works and what doesn’t. So they know they’re getting the good stuff! Now that’s a way of keeping reviews transparent and meaningful.
We’ve tested Bunker with over 37 leading manufacturer spools on the market and the vast majority fit. Let’s be honest it won’t fit every spool, but for the most part you’re covered! Most spools have a different hole diameter, that’s why we’ve developed a universal spool holder that you can print in a dimension you need. Moreover, we have developed this spool holder in a smart way that reduces unravelling of the spool. We’ve tested Bunker with over-filled spools, loose filament and even upside-down! Bunker has two stepper motors to provide a continuous flow of filament, for when your printer needs it. This reduces the strain on your extruder motor and provides a more consistent feed.
Bunker works with just about any type of filament 1.75mm to 3mm filament. PLA, ABS, Wood, Copper, Flexible, PETG, HIPS, PC. It also works exceptionally well for materials that are very hygroscopic like PVA, PC & Nylon.
Calling All Filament Manufacturers
An additional feature of Bunker is the ability to remove a partially used spool of filament and Bunker will remember how much is remaining. It does this by using a serial number to uniquely identify the spool and record the material usage. So when you scan the serial and put that spool back into Bunker, it knows exactly how much filament is left on the spool. So you know if you have enough to get through your next project.
So we need your help to tell filament manufacturers to start putting serialized barcodes onto their filaments. Even better, if they put on RFID tags, this makes loading and unloading filament a breeze. No more waste!
While we wait for filament suppliers to catch on, we’ll supply you with downloadable barcode labels that you can laser print and attach to your existing spools. If you don’t want to use serial barcodes, you can simply just enter the weight of filament left on a spool with the Bunker app.
You might think, “How does Bunker do all of this smart stuff, yet doesn’t know what 3d printer I have?” The Bunker works independently to your 3D printer and is constantly monitoring the flow of filament.
When your printer gently pulls on the filament, a limit switch is activated and a stepper motor feeds 30cm of filament at a time. You can use two completely different printers with one Bunker at a time, as it has two independent feed mechanisms. Or you can use one Bunker with a dual extruder. If your printer is a Bowden style, Bunker also works in conjunction with it and does not replace the Bowden motor.
Soon we’ll be putting together some exciting stretch goals, and we’re making sure that they’re exactly that; flexible goals that will improve your experience as backers, but won’t overburden the project, should we be lucky enough to reach them.
Way back last February, a friend of mine who manages 34 desktop printers at a local University, said
“Every morning I have to walk across multiple campuses to check on each of my printers. If I could just have a dashboard that could tell me what’s still printing, what’s finished and what filament needs replacing, this would save me a load of time. Also, I wish there was a way to bill students for a combination of print time and material. All too often, I’ll have a student that sends a crazy 50 micron / 60-hour print, this is a no-no and takes up valuable resources from other students. Come on Bruce, surely you can come up with something”
There it was, that light bulb moment. Showering in the mornings to build on the idea was never the same again!
As you’ll see from the images below, our team have been working hard and if there is one thing they have in common, they love 3D printing. We’ve had feedback from industry experts, engineers, designers and users.
Special considerations for backers
- International backers will possibly be charged VAT and duties by their country.
- Kickstarter is not a store and as so we will not offer refunds.
- Pickup is not available.
If you would like to work with us to distribute Bunker around the world after we successfully finish this Kickstarter campaign, please contact us at di[email protected]
If you resell or manufacture filaments and would like to be part of the Bunker project please get in touch with us [email protected]
Special thanks to everyone who has supported the creation of this project, especially Martin Landry, who made so many things possible, as well as the online 3D printer community of makers for giving us advice, feedback and inspiration!
Thanks to the following for their 3D models in our Kickstarter video
- Impossible Bearing by Sarah @ IdeaBeans
- Toyota Engine by EricthePoolBoy
- EinStien by 3DWP
- Yoda by Bmoshe
- Shark by Mauro Santini
- Robot arm by Sam Pop
- Robot head by Machina Corp
Risks and challenges
Manufacturing a product has become much easier in today’s world but still has its challenges. We’ve currently made all our parts using industrial prototyping machines. Once we go to the expense of injection molding, we could have tolerances and mechanical property issues. Keeping this in mind, we have already been in discussion with a seasoned injection molding consultant to minimize any delays.
There is always a risk that we will face unexpected challenges throughout this journey together and will do our best to solve them quickly. We pledge to keep you, our backers updated in a timely manner throughout the entire production process and to do everything we can to deliver the best Bunker possible.