3D Printer Club: Acquiring Supplies


With the 3D printer club now in full swing, we’ve already discovered that we need some supplies. I’ll describe how that process can work, using the very real example of what came up yesterday. This type of process can happen at any time via email–you don’t need to wait until a club meeting to make any part of this happen.

While the maker team was working on finding parts, they realized that they really should have safety glasses to protect their eyes from things like springs that go flying off from parts that are being disassembled. Because safety is a real concern, this makes a lot of sense to me, and I think it’s important that we pick some up for next time.

To get the process rolling, the team member who identified the need should send an email to the BOM team leaders, explaining what parts or supplies are needed, why, and when. The email can look something like this:

We need 4-6 pairs of safety glasses to protect our eyes from flying debris as we disassemble machines in search of parts. We need these before the next meeting, if possible. Thank you!

The BOM team can then contact the build team, if necessary, to make sure the request is valid and reasonable. For example, the Build Team might already have a couple pairs of safety glasses, and as a result might be able to change the request to 2-4 pairs instead.

Once the request is validated, the BOM team can go to work figuring out where to get the parts, how much they cost, and then submit the request to accounting team. That request might look something like this:

We have determined that we need 4 pairs or safety glasses. They are available locally from Harbor Freight tools for $1 each for a total of $4 plus tax. Is this approved?

The accounting team can then add the request to the ledger, and let the BOM team know that the request is approved. The BOM team can then find someone to purchase the part. Ideally, they combine this request with others for the same store. They might accomplish this by sending an email to the makers:

If you are near Harbor Freight and can pick up some supplies, please let me know. We need 4 pairs of safety glasses (item 99762), and electrical tape (item 6047). The approved total is $9 plus tax and will be reimbursed when receipts are submitted.

The BOM team should be careful to be sure that the requested items are only purchased once. Once purchased, the parts or supplies can be delivered to those who requested it, and the receipts can be submitted to the accounting team for reimbursement.

It will be a lot easier to do this once the membership team distributes the team lists with the contact information. if you receive an email like this from a team member, please act on it promptly, because you might be holding up someone else’s work!

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