Downed cloud services cause Bambu Lab 3D printers to self-destruct

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Bambu Lab 's 3D printers have turned the industry on its head, previously dominated by titans like Prusa Research and Creality. Bringing high-speed printing to the common folk at an affordable rate, Bambu Lab's offerings felt like a breath of fresh air. The X1 Carbon, their flagship 3D printer, boasted an enclosure, used corexy kinematics, and was capable of automatically detecting the z-offset. Yet, the masterpiece was its robust integration with the cloud. However, this turned out to be a double-edged sword as this very feature led a slew of Bambu Lab 3D printers to self-destruct, with their owners blissfully ignorant of the calamity unfolding.

Secondary camera with timestamps. One to many F... Damaged plate.
by u/Ced_Battlewind in BambuLab

Why Home Assistant Guide won't recommend Bambu Lab 3D printers

Before delving into the unfolding of events that further underscore the perils of over-reliance on cloud services, I believe it is important to clarify to you, my dear reader, why my perspective might appear to be skewed against Bambu Lab. Despite the widespread acclaim of the Bambu Lab X1 series, P1S, and P1P, it's essential to acknowledge that not everything about the company is as perfect as it seems. This is particularly relevant if you are an advocate for open-source projects.

Indeed, Bambu Lab's conduct has the potential to raise a few eyebrows. The company has been discovered infringing on PrusaSlicer, a clear violation of the AGPLL-3.0 licence, demonstrating a blatant lack of respect for intellectual property. The team here at Home Assistant Guide deeply appreciates the immense amount of time and effort invested in these open-source projects. We strongly believe that, at the very least, these efforts warrant acknowledgement and respect. Therefore, Bambu Lab's actions strike a discordant note with our values and principles.

Bambu Lab has also faced criticism for the restricted repairability of their 3D printers. This is in stark contrast to companies like Prusa Research and Sovol, which have embraced the open-source ethos. These companies allow enthusiasts to reprint parts of their 3D printers, truly embodying the RepRap philosophy of self-replication. In theory, you could even manufacture all the metal parts yourself. Unfortunately, with Bambu Lab's 3D printers, such an option is not available.

However, it's important to note that neither Prusa Research nor Sovol are without their own shortcomings. Moreover, Bambu Lab isn't the sole company suspected of infringing on PrusaSlicer. Anycubic, another leading manufacturer, was essentially found to have published an identical build by simply swapping Prusa's name with their own. Further controversy surrounds the open-source authenticity of the Original Prusa MINI. This subject has sparked heated discussions among certain online communities, indicating that the dialogue around open-source integrity in the 3D printing industry is far from settled.

🤔I guess this explains why we started getting BambuSlicer [sic] entries in our DB shortly after releasing PrusaSlicer 2.4.0 🤭 We introduced opt-in to anonymously send us system info with this version. The Bambu reskin looks nice though 🥸 What are your thoughts on this? [...] It is AGPL-3.0 license [sic], and we are still adding “based on Slic3r” even after massive rewrite because we are proud of the heritage 💪

- Josef Prusa on X (previously Twitter)

The unravelling nightmare of Bambu Lab 3D printers

From its early days, Bambu Lab has championed the notion that the cloud would revolutionize the 3D printing domain. The company's proprietary, closed-source system was designed to let users initiate and supervise print jobs from any location, at any time, and effectively manage their projects within a single platform. However, on the morning of August 15, 2023, between 10:03 and 11:10, and then later between 12:11 and 12:23 UTC, what was once hailed as a game-changer morphed into a source of nightmares.

A screenshot of the Bambu Lab website showing the benefits of using the cloud
A screenshot of the Bambu Lab website showing the benefits of using the cloud

The mysterious incident

Let's set the stage, shall we? It's a typical day in the world of Bambu Lab when, suddenly and without warning, the unthinkable happens: a cloud outage. Under normal circumstances, this would just cause a brief hiccup in operations. But not this time. This time, the gremlins in the system had a different plan, which has affectionately been dubbed as “job jamming”.

As the situation began to unravel, Bambu Lab's cloud services took a wobbly turn and became as unpredictable as British weather. Print jobs were dispatched to printers like diligent postmen on their rounds, but alas, their system was left hanging, failing to catch the much-needed confirmation of receipt. It was like sending a text message and waiting for that tiny 'delivered' note to pop up, only to be met with a disconcerting silence.

The domino effect

With the system's failure to acknowledge the job completion, it embarked on a relentless mission to resend the job. Adding to the mayhem were a few befuddled users who, in their confusion, manually retriggered the job. In the midst of all this, the cloud service, like an overzealous butler, may have also joined the resend fiesta. During this digital blackout, print start messages began to pile up like unread emails after a Bank Holiday weekend.

To add another twist to the tale, a second connection failure was identified. The service managed to pull its socks up and reconnect successfully this time. However, in a classic case of too much of a good thing, the system sent out the backlog of print start messages like a postman on overdrive. The fallout? Numerous unsuspecting printers, catching forty winks, sprang into action, churning out pages as if there were no tomorrow.

But the story doesn't end here. Another contributing factor to this digital debacle was an onslaught of API access requests, all clamouring for attention at the same time. This bombardment overwhelmed the API service, which struggled to respond in a timely fashion like a flustered waiter during the lunchtime rush. Although Bambu Studio has a clever bit of logic implemented to trigger a print request immediately upon accessing the cloud, this time, the tactic backfired. This exacerbated the accumulation of API access calls, and stretched the API service beyond its capacity.

The aftermath

Here's the kicker: on the printer's end, everything was hunky-dory. The print job was completed successfully, but the cloud service, in its state of oblivion, believed otherwise. When the cloud service finally decided to get its act together and resume, it was like a time-bomb waiting to explode. The once-jammed job was resent, resulting in an encore performance of the already finished print job.

Shifting Clouds: Bambu Lab and the 3D printing paradigm

In the past week, I have encountered numerous advocates of Bambu Lab who readily jump to the defence of their preferred 3D printers. They stress that the use of the cloud is not obligatory, pointing out that it's entirely possible to print over a local network or directly from an SD card. Despite these assertions, though, this isn't really the way in which Bambu Lab envisions their 3D printers being utilized by customers.

Bambu Lab has two specific target audiences in mind for their printers – enthusiasts who have a genuine passion for 3D printing wanting a fast and reliable machine without any tinkering and beginners who are just starting their journey into the world of 3D printing. The company has designed their printers to cater to these users, aiming to make the process as straightforward as possible.

With this in mind, the cloud is presented as the default option on all of Bambu Lab's devices. It's set up in a way that encourages users to take advantage of the convenience of cloud-based printing. The option to print from a local network isn't immediately apparent or enabled – it's a feature that needs to be unlocked by the user. This strategy further reinforces the idea that Bambu Lab's 3D printers are designed with a strong emphasis on simplicity and usability, particularly for those who are new to 3D printing or prefer not to delve too deeply into the technical side of things.

Ok so this is a bit concerning, I have zero clue how their system is setup (yay proprietary closed source) but it looks like a disruption in Bambulab`s cloud service cause a whole bunch of peoples printers to just.....start printing last night.

- NERO 3D on X (previously Twitter)

The cloud is never 100% reliable

Hooking up a 3D printer to the cloud might sound like an amazingly smart idea. It has the power to let you access your high-tech Bambu Lab 3D printer from any gizmo, update itself automatically, and even manage your projects. However, it's crucial to consider potential drawbacks before fully embracing this approach. And these concerns aren't exclusive to Bambu Lab; other services like Google Drive, Amazon Alexa, and Dropbox face similar challenges.

The considerations for 3D printers extend to smart home software as well. Home Assistant, for example, allows you to control your smart home from a local device, such as a Raspberry Pi or a home server. When paired with other offline-capable technologies like Zigbee bulbs, Shelly smart plugs, or the OctoPrint 3D printer controller, you can operate independently from the cloud. Even if your internet connection is severed, your lights will still turn on. Moreover, no one at Home Assistant has the authority to revoke your software or halt its operations. While locally hosted software may involve a steeper learning curve, it invariably offers superior control and reliability.

A tethered balloon

The reliability of the cloud isn't exclusively about the provider, it's also about your tether to them – your internet connection. The cloud is a bit like a balloon tied to your wrist; if the string (read: internet connection) snaps, the balloon wafts away, leaving you bereft. This dependency on the web can be a right old pickle, especially when you're in a spot that has more sheep than Wi-Fi signals. Need to access crucial data urgently? You might be up the creek without a paddle.

A peep into data privacy and security

The moment you entrust your data to cloud services, it's akin to sending your beloved pooch off to a doggy daycare. They’re taking care of your precious bundle, and you have to trust they’re keeping them safe. Your data is lounging about on servers owned by third-party companies, who theoretically have access to it. Regardless of whether these companies have Fort Knox-like security, remember, even the Titanic was deemed unsinkable.

The sword of Damocles – service shutdown

Now, here's a bit of a doomsday scenario, but bear with me. Imagine a cloud service provider going belly up or deciding to pull the plug on certain services. If this unfortunate event were to occur, you could lose access to your data faster than you can say 'Bob's your uncle', or worse, have to trudge through the arduous process of migrating your data to a new platform.

Storing your data on the cloud is a bit like putting your destiny in someone else's hands. The puppet master (your cloud service provider) controls the strings (the infrastructure), and they can tweak their system in ways that may not align with your preferences. In essence, you relinquish control, which can sometimes lead to a tumultuous journey.

A portrait photo oif Liam Alexander Colman, the author, creator, and owner of Home Assistant Guide wearing a suit.

About Liam Alexander Colman

is an experienced Home Assistant user who has been utilizing the platform for a variety of projects over an extended period. His journey began with a Raspberry Pi, which quickly grew to three Raspberry Pis and eventually a full-fledged server. Liam's current operating system of choice is Unraid, with Home Assistant comfortably running in a Docker container.
With a deep understanding of the intricacies of Home Assistant, Liam has an impressive setup, consisting of various Zigbee devices, and seamless integrations with existing products such as his Android TV box. For those interested in learning more about Liam's experience with Home Assistant, he shares his insights on how he first started using the platform and his subsequent journey.

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