3D Printing From An Android Device

[skullkey] over at the House4Hack hackerspace in Pretoria, South Africa wanted a way to get kids excited about technology and desktop fabrication labs. Wanting to give kids a visceral feel for the march of technology, he created Makerdroid, an android app that allows for the creation 3D objects on an Android tablet and preparing them to be printed on a Reprap or Makerbot.

What’s really interesting about this build is not only the fact that [skullkey] and his lovely beta testers are generating .STL files on an Android device, the object files are also being converted to GCode on the Android, without the need for a conventional computer. Makerdroid uses the very popular Skeinforge to generate the instructions for the printer (although a lot of people are switching over to Slic3r).

Makerdroid doesn’t need a PC to print objects out on a 3D printer, but we think the process of shuffling GCode files from a tablet to the printer with an SD card is a little archaic. It might be possible to print directly from an Android tablet over Bluetooth with the Android Bluetooth Reprap app that is currently in development. Still, we love the idea of printing objects we just created on a touch screen, as shown in the Makerdroid demo video after the break.

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3d Printer Software Tutorials

It’s no secret that the 3D printer community is extremely fragmented. With three models of RepRaps, three printer kits from Makerbot, and hundreds of ‘printers of the week,’ it’s extremely frustrating for beginners to wrap their heads around the pros and cons of each machine. The software for these printers is segmented nearly as much as the hardware itself, but thankfully [Mike] has put up a series of videos so beginners can wrap their head around all the software packages.

[Mike] used Alibre 3D CAD software to generate the .stl files for all his printable objects. These .stl files were converted into printer-readable GCode by the very popular Skeinforge. The GCode is sent over to [Mike]’s SUMPOD with ReplicatorG, an awesome program that serves as the front end to a printer.

Although we’d like to see a tutorial for Sfact, the new hotness in .stl to GCode conversion, [Mike] does a very good job at breaking down the complexity of Skeinforge into manageable bites.