Remote 3D Printer Setup

2018-06-04 17:10:54 by

Remote 3D Printer Setup

In this article I show how I setup my XYZ Davinci 3D printer with a linux box running Ubuntu to run remotely over my network. I add in a webcam so I can see the progress of the build and take photos/videos for documentation.

Setting Up a Printer Service for A 3D Printer

Depending on the 3D Printer that you own there’s probably multiple solutions to setting up a remote printer service like running OctoPrint on a Raspberry PI. However these solutions usually require your 3D Printer to be running open source firmware or support these 3rd party applications.

I have a Davinci 3D printer from XYZ Printing which comes with propitiary firmware so I needed to come up with a different solution. The default XYZ software for slicing and controlling the 3D printer doesn’t meet my needs and I didn’t want to try and flash an open source firmware on it and turn it into a brick. (This particular model doesn’t seem to work well with open source firmware)

I ended up purchasing Simplify3D  which is 3D printing slicing software that works with a long list of 3D printers including XYZ and does not require special firmware. It also has lots of other features that the stock slicing software doesn’t have so I’ve been happy with it.

With the software in place to slice and control the 3D Printer now you just need to setup a remote linux box to run the whole thing.

Required Components and Software

Here’s what I ended up using to build my remote 3D printer service:

  • 3D Printer (any model/make)
  • Simplify3D – 3D Printer slicing software (you may be able to use OctoPrint or Cura)
  • Ubuntu Linux 16.04 running on compatiable hardware (an old laptop would work, Raspberry PI 3, etc.)
  • USB webcam (I had an old Microsoft Lifecam based on a  logitech webcam)
  • Remote desktop software (I used Teamviewer)

Setting Up Ubuntu Linux and Webacam for Remote 3D Printer

I won’t go over how to install Ubuntu on your hardware but once you have it setup you can install your 3D Printer slicing software and connect your webcam. I used the default Cheese app in Ubuntu for the webcam. You can see my setup below.

Right now I just have the webcam on a box next to the 3D Printer door. I need to work on making a clamp that will attach to the door – preferably on the inside.

Setting Up 3D Printer Slicing Software Simplify3D with XYZ Davinci 3D Printer

Installing Simplify3D is pretty straight forward on Ubuntu and when you first start the applicaiton it asks you to select your 3D Printer. I haven’t had any issues getting the Davinci to work with Simplify3D.

Below is  a screenshot of Simplify 3D running with webcam Cheese software application.

One thing I have found is that sometimes I need to go into the Machine Control Panel option and manually select the USB-serial port and connect to be able to talk to the 3D Printer.

The Machine Control Panel gives you access to a lot of options in over-riding and controlling the 3D printer like plotting the bed and extruder temperatures:

What settings you can access will depend on the firmware on your 3D Printer.

Running Remote Desktop Software for Your 3D Printer

The last part is setting up remote desktop software so you can acess your 3D printer over your network or anywhere from the web. In my case I was using my Winodws office mahcine to access the remote 3D Printer located in my basement. Of course Linux has lots of options to run remote desktop and I tried several of them but kept running into various issues. One issue was that Simplify3D needed Qt5 libraries but the remote desktop viewer only supported Qt4. Another issue is that the frame rate of the webcam app was getting set at 15 fps which is pretty choppy.

So if you want to roll your own remote desktop with Linux apps here’s a couple of links to try out:

The easiest solution I found was to use TeamViewer which works on Windows/MacOS/Linux and has a free non-commerical version. It installed and I was up and running in less than 5 minutes.

Final Thoughts On 3D Printer Remote Service

So far this setup has worked well for me and makes it easy for me to watch how my 3D prints are going.

Below is a screen grab from the 3D Printer webcam and a short video:

 

 

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