Is Octoprint Worth It?
It can be quite frustrating to deal with print failures as well as finished low-quality printing products, especially the ones that happen when you are not around to oversee them. Perhaps, you’ve heard of Octoprint which allows you to monitor ongoing prints remotely, and you’re asking yourself if Octoprint is worth it.
The answer is yes! With features like creating time-lapse videos, sending G-codes, detecting failed parts, uploading programs, and free plug-ins to save time, filament, and money, Octoprint is well-equipped to give you the best 3D printing experience.
What is Octoprint and What does it need to function?
Octoprint is a free, open-source 3D printing software, created by Gina Häußge, that allows you to remotely control a 3D printer connected to a web server with its web interface. As mentioned earlier, Octoprint comes with so many features and plug-ins you can use depending on your situation. It can also work on different operating systems and make use of a variety of cameras.
Although the software is open-source and free, Octoprint still needs a number of accessories like a computer/mini-computer, a camera, etc, to properly function. If you’re looking to set up Octoprint software for your 3D printer, the items you will need are: Raspberry Pi 3B+, Raspberry Pi camera, Raspberry Pi camera cable, Raspberry Pi power supply, MicroSD card (32GB), MicroSD card reader, and a Mini USB cable.
The Raspberry Pi 3B+ computer and Raspberry Pi camera are recommended because they’re easy to use and highly compatible with the Octoprint software. However, you can still make use of your own computer and the camera of your choice.
Also, to fully access your software, you will need to write an Octopi image to your MicroSD card. This Raspberrian program (Octopi image) consists of a full copy of a working Octoprint installation that comes with tools that can control your 3D printer remotely, send new files to print, etc.
Why You Should Give Octoprint a Chance
Ever since it was created, Octoprint software has continued to improve, serving us new versions and new features through plug-ins on a regular basis. If you aren’t a regular user of Octoprint software, here are some of the top reasons why you should give it a chance.
- Wireless Printing: Unlike other budget 3D printers that do not have the ability to be controlled or monitored wirelessly, Octoprint can wirelessly control 3D printers over the local network. With the wireless capabilities offered by the Raspberry Pi, once Octoprint is installed on it and connected to the printer, you can always have control over your 3D printer whether you are physically present or not. This is another reason why you should consider using the Raspberry Pi computer with Octoprint.
- Remote Printing via Plug-in: This just means that Octoprint provides you with the ability to control (start and stop) and monitor the progress of your prints from anywhere via the “Anywhere plug-in”. This website can be accessed on your computer or even your mobile device. Since Octoprint is always improving, they have recently announced that the “Anywhere plug-in” will be replaced with an advanced and upgraded plug-in known as the “Spaghetti Detective”.
- G-Code Viewer Feature: If you want to monitor your print progress and you do not have a webcam, Octoprint provides a G-code viewer which keeps you updated by showing the real-time nozzle position and the layer number.
Below the visualizer is also displayed your print’s status and the current G-code commands being sent to the printer. Mostly underrated, this Octoprint feature offers a lot more than you can imagine once it is properly utilized.
- Terminal Commands Feature: Not only does this feature allow you to view codes sent to the printer in real-time like temperature messages, SD card messages, and 3D printer command functions, but you can also send custom G-code commands within Octoprint’s terminal directly to your printer.
This saves you a lot of stress and time compared to relying on another program to communicate with your printer. What makes the Terminal Commands feature even better is that on occasions when you have to calibrate your 3D printer, you can view the existing system presets in the terminal command.
You can even input and store new calibrated values with the permission of some commands.
- Timelapse and Octolapse: A timelapse video has two great benefits, one of which is to capture and view the entire 3D printing process of many hours in just a matter of seconds. To set up a timelapse video, all you need to do is set the frame rate and snapshot interval, and if you want to take things further, you can also explore the advanced setting options.
The second benefit is that a timelapse video helps you to recognize the exact cause of a print failure or the exact time the failure happened. Octolapse, on the other hand, is a plug-in that helps to create cleaner and sharper videos by building on the functionality of the timelapse section in Octoprint.
- Cloud Slicing: This feature comes in handy especially if you are unable to install slicing software on your computer for some reason or you just don’t want to. The Cloud slicing feature allows you to slice your 3D models without having to install a new slicer. An installed plug-in (Cura or Slic3r) on the Raspberry Pi allows slicing of your 3D models to be possible.
- TouchUI: Nowadays, many devices come with the touchscreen UI and while several 3D printers do not possess this feature, Octoprint UI can be installed on a touchscreen with the use of the Octoprint TouchUI plug-in.
Without even opening your computer, you will be able to use Octoprint with the TouchUI. For an easy installation process of the touchscreen, you can visit many articles and tutorial videos that will successfully guide you through each step.
- Open-Source Community: The open-source community has been very active and beneficial to users as many developments in the 3D printing world rose from within the community itself. To improve various aspects of 3D printing, as well as adding free, open-source programs like Cura, Marlin, and Octoprint itself, a lot of private developers constantly put in their time and effort.
Due to its open-source and free nature, users and developers across the globe have been able to share and incorporate their own ideas, modifying the source code available on Octoprint’s GitHub page. This has contributed greatly to the success of Octoprint and the enhancement of its functionality.
- Multiple Printer Control: You can make use of this feature if you’re working with more than one 3D printer by connecting them all and their webcams to a single Raspberry Pi. You can also use OctoFarm as an alternative option. The free, open-source, user-developed interface will allow you to control and monitor several 3D printers on just one Raspberry Pi.
These Octoprint plugins are essentially available to make the 3D printing process easier and better for you, and some of them are:
- Pushover: It simply sends you push notifications when the job is either finished or has failed at some point for one reason or the other.
- Heater Timeout: It turns off the heating of the hot-end after a set amount of time to avoid a potential fire hazard. This is helpful because a printer that is left switched on with the extruder still being heated can attract a fire or even cost you too much on your electricity bill.
- Emergency Stop: This plug-in adds a red bar at the top of your Octoprint UI so that when it is pushed, all printer activity will be stopped to prevent further damage from when things go wrong during the printing process. It comes in handy because you can’t exactly be sure of when an issue will arise during printing.
- Bed Level Visualizer: If you have installed a bed leveling sensor on your 3D printer, the bed level visualizer plug-in is a program you need. With it, you can view the leveling of your printer bed as measured by the sensor, giving you a graphical representation of your 3D printer’s bed. This way, you are able to visually verify any unevenness and also take the appropriate steps needed to fix the issue.
- Spaghetti Detective: This plug-in, on the other hand, is an advanced and upgraded version of the “Anywhere plug-in” that detects failed prints with the use of AI. This advanced plug-in is aware of whether or not the printing process is occurring at the correct amount of time. If it isn’t, the Spaghetti device plug-in quickly notifies you and presents you with the option of immediately stopping the printing process.
If you’re a new or advanced user wondering whether or not using Octoprint is the best approach for your printing process, the reasons given above are enough to convince you of the software’s capabilities.
With Octoprint, not only are you able to monitor your prints and prevent failures in time, but you are also able to customize your printing experience according to your own specific needs. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or require more information!
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