3D printing with Cura on the Raspberry Pi

Since I had a bit of time on my hands, I spent some time this weekend switching over the software I was using for 3D printing. Since I first got my 3D printer 5 or 6 years ago, I’ve been using Repetier under MS-Windows. This is a very flexible solution but its Raspberry Pi implementation is only as a server that you would access over the web which is nice, but you can’t see the model progress while printing. I’ll need to experiment with this more though.

There is a Cura implementation that ran on top of Octopi. This print controller will allow me to transfer information directly to the printer, initiate printing and monitor it remotely over the web. Here is the main interface:


One added bonus of making the change to Cura and Octopi is that I can monitor the printing process remotely using a USB camera (that I had lying around) — this capability was just built in. Here is what that looks like:


The first 2 prints I tried came off flawlessly, though I do have a small X axis offset issue to center the print that I’ve yet to resolve.

If you have a spare Raspberry Pi lying around it is definitely worth looking into. I also want to try using Slic3r on the Pi as an alternative 3D slicer.


Installed the creator version of Windows yesterday

It all went smoothly EXCEPT I lost everything that was pinned to my start menu. If I were to do it again, I’d take a screen snapshot before installing the update. All the programs were still loaded and working, they just were not arranged on my start menu anymore. The update does take much longer than the normal monthly upgrade.

There are a number of minor enhancements here and there but what I was waiting for was Paint 3D. I wanted to see what it can do. So far, I’ve not really figured out the controls but you can manipulate solids (in the picture I pulled in some 3D space ship models). You can change them in simple ways, as well as color them or stamp designs on them…


Once you create a model you can export it as .3mf (what Microsoft 3D builder uses) as well as PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP and TIF. Not sure how much use it will be for 3D printing, but the capabilities were intriguing. You can also load your models into Remix 3d – a Microsoft hosted creative community

Printrbot Simple Metal has arrived

Other than having a few issues with the initial calibration, it is working great. I ordered some additional filament from MCM Electronics (since I was ordering other stuff anyway), so I should have some color options soon. Overall, the quality is improved and the reliability is significantly better than the previous generation of printer.

I’ve printed a number of items more reliably and with better finish than ever before.


The first is a fairly detailed print of my daughters monogram and the 2nd is a phone stand.

So far, I’ve still been using Repetier and Slic3r to generate the g-code and drive the printer.


PrintrBot Simple Metal

simple metal silverI’ve owned a PrinterBot LC for a number of years now and have extruded some interesting and complex models. After years of calibration, modification and tuning, it functioned well, printing reliably. I’ve decided it is time to sell it though and purchase a newer (capable of slightly larger output) model 3D printer, a PrintrBot Simple Metal.

This one I purchased assembled, since I’ll soon will not have much free time (more about that later) and wanted to get some experience while I could. The LC came in literally thousands of pieces, this one is definitely a much more streamlined design. I’ll definitely be writing some posts about the unboxing and calibration experience here. Fortunately, I have numerous calibration models I’ve made over the years, as well as a great deal of experience (and sweat and frustration) to bring to bear on challenge.


3D Metal-printing robot builds a mid-air bridge

I’ve been interested in 3D printing for a very long time. When I came across this article on a metal-printing 3D robot that can build bridges I was intrigued about the possibilities, and the engineering issues.

In any 3D printing project, crossing an unsupported span is a bit of an issue, but having the span support the printer at the same time is really a feat, and fun to watch.


HaloLens – my interest is peaked

Augmented reality has always interested me and I finally got around to signing up for Microsoft’s HaloLens community. I used to do quite a bit of work with Microsoft (somewhere around here I have a crystal cube for the ‘lasting contributions’ to Visual Studio 2005) but I’ve not exercised those skills in a while – so HaloLens seemed like an ideal opportunity.

The hardware shown looks powerful and flexible. I’ll need to come up with some use cases that can exercise its capabilities. I am sure that somewhere between ham radio, data analytics, 3d printing and my other interests there must be something.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that I’ll make it to a build event but hopefully I’ll get my hands on one somehow.


Tinkerplay – a must for 3D printing

If there is one program that anyone needs to have who is interested in 3D printing (or knows of a child that may be interested) — it is Tinkerplay. It runs on Windows, Android, Windows phone and iOS.

You can build various ‘creatures’ out of predefined parts. You can play with them in the building environment:


That’s an animated gif of a number of screenshots in a rendered environment.

Once you have everything defined the way you want, you can then build a parts list model that is ready to print:

Part breakdown