3D Printing has never been this easy. I lazily sit in my beachfront office, upload my .STL to Astroprint’s cloud slicer (cloud slicer! what an awesome word pair), choose what printer I’m using, and hit print. That’s it. The printer in my living room whirs to life while I sip my martini.
Sure, I can fiddle around with advanced settings on its clean, beautiful interface, but when I want to get things done and just print the darn object, I can do it. I can use my phone to control everything in my aforementioned beach office*.
I loved OctoPrint. The way its beautiful, technologically advanced tentacles untethered my computer from the cruel leash of the mini USB cable. OctoPrint is still wonderful, but Astroprint is OctoPrint to a whole new level. I don’t have to download any software. I don’t have to tinker with a dozen settings before my first print. I don’t even have to boot up my computer. I simply use my phone to upload an .STL file through a browser.
At the time of beta testing, there were a few limitations. It was not compatible with any Makerbot machine, since Makerbot does not use gcode to slice. Unlike OctoPrint, it did not have camera capability. It also refused to work when I fed it filenames with spaces in them.
Since then, Drew (one of the creators) assured me that the filename bug is fixed, and it will have camera capability by the time they ship out their Kickstarter products (which ends this Wednesday!) As for Makerbot machines- they are currently investigating potential solutions.
Here’s Drew’s vision on where Astroprint is and where he wants it to go:
My friends and I started Astroprint because we felt that 3D printing should be super simple. I wanted the advanced settings to be there, but I didn’t want to deal with them every time I print. With AstroPrint, we can slice, store, and print designs from any web-enabled device (phones, tablets, and computers). Additionally, all gcodes are organized according to the STL they were sliced from, which lets us easily find the slices we prefer to print. We’re aiming to simplify this process down to 1-click printing.
One of our next steps is to pre-set all printer manufacturers’ suggested slicing settings in the system. The AstroPrint software is open source and can be installed on a Linux board such as a Raspberry Pi, BBB, or pcDuino. In the future, we hope to see AstroPrint pre-embedded in printers at purchase.
This is one neat product that will seriously save time on my printer testing. I’m looking forward.
*I don’t have a beach office.