A while back we took a look at electronics boards for 3D printers, going over the cost and benefits of the most common electronics boards for printers, laser cutters, and mills. One of the most impressive boards was the Smoothieboard, but finding a supplier back then was a little difficult. Now, the Smoothieboard is up on Kickstarter, giving everyone the opportunity to get their hands on this very cool CNC control board.
While most RepRap and 3D printer controller boards use an ATMega or other 8-bit microcontroller, the Smoothie uses a 32-bit ARM chip in the form of an NXP LPC Cortex-M3 chip. Not only does this allow the Smoothie to do some very cool things with your machine – native arcs and circles, for example, but this better hardware also allows for Ethernet, drag-and-drop firmware, and exposing the USB port as both a serial port or mass storage device.
The Smoothie comes in three flavors, with either 3, 4, or 5 stepper motor drivers. These Allegro A4982 drivers are good enough for any 3D printer, laser cutter, or small mill, but the broken out pins allow for stepper drivers supplying more than 2A of current.
Everything on the Smoothieboard is modular, meaning this board is equally capable of powering a RepRap, mill, laser cutter, or plotter. There’s even a planned control panel called the Smoothiepanel, making this a great choice for your next CNC build.