Printrbot is Rewriting Marlin: New Firmware Promises to Improve User Experience

Share this Article

logo-wide-black-smWe’ve been following the goings on at Printrbot quite a bit this year as they’ve continued to improve and upgrade their affordable line of 3D printers. The company, which began with a successful Kickstarter project in 2011, has been moving forward at breakneck speed, largely due to their boldness and willingness to experiment. This past week, they made a major announcement: they’re rewriting their firmware. According to founder and CEO Brook Drumm, major changes are coming to Marlin.

2014-09-18-2B14.23.41_8“We dug into Marlin to see if we could get an esp8266 to connect to wifi and our cloud services,” said Drumm. “After
cleaning out a bunch of unneeded, (non-Printrbot) code, it became more and more obvious we needed to extend its functionality for a variety of reasons. And it was painfully obvious that many things needed fixing.

It’s not that Marlin didn’t work, it does. But so many things we found in there just didn’t make sense. Some features were poorly written, some were not apparently abandoned and some features needed improvement. In all, we determined that if we were to move things forward, we couldn’t build on top of the existing system.”

190px-Marlin_LogoSo the company is completely revamping Marlin in a way that will improve and simplify it for Printrbot users. The new firmware will remain open source, but Drumm emphasizes that the changes will be “laser focused” on Printrbot’s hardware and software. Users are welcome to modify the firmware to fit their own needs, but Printrbot won’t be guiding any projects once the new code is released. Coders will have plenty to work with, though. The new and improved Marlin, to start, will:

  • Allow the printrboard to accept a shield that contains an esp8266 for WiFi and an ad card
  • Connect via WiFi to Printrbot’s cloud services and software to authenticate the connection and let users control it with Printrbot’s UI, which works in any browser
  • Track the user’s firmware to make upgrading easier
  • Allow Printrbot to include their vendor and product IDs and add unique serial numbers to each board. This will allow their software to identify the equipment it is running on and simplify configuration

printrboard-rev-f5

The new version of Marlin should work on all stock printrboards, but it won’t be usable with any desktop software until someone writes plugins for OctoPrint, Repetier and Cura, which doubtless won’t take long once the community gets its hands on the new code. Printrbot will publish the information needed to create the plugins, but is leaving the rest up to users. The reasoning behind this is that Printrbot is transitioning away from desktop open source software and towards their own cloud-based software, a transition that many in the industry are pursuing.

“This will eventually make the need for a computer hooked up via usb a thing of the past and soon have people using their phones, tablets and computers to run their machines wirelessly,” said Drumm. “I think this is where the industry needs to go and we are hoping this helps others go there with us.”

The new code isn’t completed yet, but Drumm is fully confident that it will dramatically improve user experience. It won’t cost much, either. The updates will be released as an add-on card, which should cost only about $50. Eventually, barring any issues, the changes will be added to the printrboard itself. According to Drumm, this is just the beginning of the changes Printrbot fans can expect to see in the future. No word on when the new code will be released to the public, but it’s already generating a lot of excitement in the Printrbot community.  Discuss this decision by Printrbot in the Printrbot Marlin forum thread on 3DPB.com.

 

Share this Article


Recent News

3Dsimo Multipro – the one tool to rule them all (7 in 1)

Optomec Releases LENS Laser Deposition Head (LDH 3.X) for Additive Manufacturing



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Researchers Use Autodesk Ember 3D Printer to Characterize 3D Printed Lenses

In the recently published ‘Characterization of 3D printed lenses and diffraction gratings made by DLP additive manufacturing,’ international researchers studied digital fabrication of optical parts using DLP 3D printing. Examining...

Germanium, Silica & Titanium Lend Stability to 3D Printing Optical Glass

In the recently published ‘Sol-Gel Based Nanoparticles for 3D Printing of Optical Glass,’ Peter Palencia and Koroush Sasan of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are innovating further in the realm of...

Lithuanian Startup Dear Deer Eyewear Offers Bespoke 3D Printed Eyeglasses Online

Because I was really into Barbies at age 6 when I first got prescription lenses, my very first pair of eyeglasses were huge and bright pink…I shudder to look at...

Interview with Formalloy’s Melanie Lang on Directed Energy Deposition

When I met Melanie Lang at RAPID a lot of the buzz on the show floor was directed at her startup Formalloy. Formalloy has developed a metal deposition head that...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Print Services

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!