3D Printering: Remote control of 3D printers


With new owners comes new editorial direction. You’re looking at the first evidence of that right now. We’re going to be doing some weekly columns dedicated to certain subjects, and with our fascination of all things three dimensional, it only made sense our first weekly column was dedicated to 3D printers. And using 3D printers, stuff made with 3D printers. Also, things that can be used with 3D printers. Great wordsmiths we are, we’re calling this column ’3D Printering.’ If you have a better name (or a title pic) send it in and we’ll probably use it.

With that out of the way…

This week we’re taking a look at remote printing. With anything from an Android tablet to a Raspberry Pi, it’s possible to have a networked 3D printer, the perfect thing for hackerspaces or anyone who wants to print objects from multiple computers. One of the most-used tools for this is OctoPrint, a printer host designed to be run on small embedded devices such as a Raspi.

We’ve seen OctoPrint before. but since then it’s matured a whole lot. with a ton of reports of successes running on everything from a Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, and even an OUYA. All the major electronics boards – RAMPS, RAMBo, Sanguinololu – and firmwares should work with OctoPrint, making an Internet-connected 3D printer simply a matter of connecting a Raspberry Pi.

Of course OctoPrint isn’t the only networking solution for a 3D printer. PrintToPeer is deep into development and should be released sometime this fall. It’s a much more sophisticated way of networking a printer that includes an iPad app and ‘enterprise class’ functionality.

The PrintToPeer team is offering private beta invitations, but with a catch: you need to print out a piece of a sculpture and send it to them. These pieces will be unveiled in September as the largest 3D printed sculpture, and the word’s first collaborative 3D sculpture.