HP Jet fusion 4200/3200- 3D printing ecosystem

HP (2016)
Overview
As a Customer Experience Lead I managed and delivered the architecture and design of  the project manager software for the first generation HP 3D multiject fusion printer. This is the most challenging project, in engineering terms, that have been facing in my design career. The software is both tracking a complex ecosystem of machines while monitor the jobs moving across them and the quality of the part produced.
The industrial challenge
The HP Jet fusion 3200 series, is a printer for industrial use, which implies that the quality and traceability of parts is way more complex than 3D printers for prototypes. In one side there is the necessity of tracking data while the job travel across the different steps of the production process, in the other the minimisation of human error through clear communication of the interface.
I have been part of the team in charged of analysing and understanding the workflow complexity, to deliver the right experience  to the different stakeholders along the line that have to interact with the software with different purposes.
The HP printer workflow doesn't live in isolation in a factory, so it is as important to integrate with solutions that our customers are already using, and optimising where there is a lack of one.
First generation
3D-printer by HP
As the HP Jet fusion 3200 was the first generation 3D printers made by HP, it came along several challenges:
• the different machines (robots) belonging to the ecosystem managed by the software, where going through rapid firmware updates, that will waterfall change the data available to the managing softwares. This implied a tight relationship between design and engineering teams.
• several concepts belonging to the 3D worlds, the specificity of the machine and the material used, didn't exist, and we had to create them from scratch and translate them into intuitive UX flows and UI elements
UX at the core of the product
I used to call the HP 3D printer "the dragon" because looking at it felt like a powerful beast spitting fire.
This is indeed a powerful product, and together with it comes possible danger. The clarity of the interface it is not only an ornament, but it is key to the usability of the machine. Preventing possible human errors, and communicate clearly the state of the machines ecosystem is also essential to the cost of the process, as having to throw a batch gone bad, means thousands of euros gone together with it. The possible issues caused by poor operability make the interface of the printer and the deckstop softwares and its usability key of the product.  The printer utility SW in particular allow to monitor the printer process remotely without having to stand by the printer for the length of the printing process which can take longer than half a day.