Simplified 3D printing process

When I do a 3D print I use to start with downloading a design from Thingiverse or some other page. Sometimes I also design my own things, then I use TinkerCad. The downloaded files are loaded into the software PrusaSlicer, where they are prepared (“sliced”) in a format that the 3D printer can understand. Next step is to copy the file created by PrusaSlicer to a microSD card via an USB adapter. The card is then transfered to the printer, and inserted into it’s cardreader. The card i small so you have to be gentle not loosing it, and the printer’s reader is in a location where it’s hard to reach. The worst thing, there is a small opening between the reader and the chassis. If you but the card in the wrong way it gets lost inside the chassis, and you have to dismantle the printer to get it back. Not to funny :/

Question is, can the process be simplified? And the answer: yes it can! Besides the cardreader on the printer there is an microusb port, meant for connecting a computer. Then you should be able to print directly from the computer, without handling the microSD card. Sure sounds good!

Tinkercad, a site for 3D design.
Thingiverse, here you find ready made designs to use.
PrusaSlicer, makes the design ready to print.

A 3D print can take a long time, and you don’t want the main computer to be on all the time with today electricy prices. A common solution to this is to use a Raspberry Pi to handle the printing. These can be hard to obtain these days, but luckily I had one that could be reused. It is mounted in a Pirate Radio chassi with a Hifi sound add on card and a speaker, so it could double as a music player if I want it to 🙂

Pirate Radio, a kit that could be bought a few years back.
The back side. A speaker and a Raspberry Pi Zero W with a sound card beneath.

The “radio” was booted with a monitor and a keyboard attached. All worked good, time to install the software most people recommend, Octoprint. Here I found that the easiest way to do this is to use a special made distribution with the necesarry software pre-installed, a distribution named OctoPi. How this is made will be the subject for part 2 of this blog post. Stay tuned…

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