In 2014, venture-backed technology company AstroPrint, based out of San Diego, launched an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign for its consumer 3D printing cloud platform – it reached its funding goal in one day, and by the time the campaign was over, had exceeded the original campaign goal by 400%. AstroPrint is both a service and a device: a small box, called the AstroBox, loaded with custom, open source AstroPrint Pi Software, connects to a 3D printer via a USB cable and creates its own WiFi network.

Over the years, AstroPrint has partnered with and added support for several companies and services, like MakerBot, i.materialise, 3D Slash, and Leopoly, and has enhanced the product a few times, adding an option to save custom slicer settings, a file management feature, and live video streaming. The intuitive AstroPrint platform is currently compatible with about 80% of the 3D printers on the market, and brands and developers can use the AstroPrint App Marketplace to deliver content to 3D printer owners around the world, thanks to its scalable distribution platform.

Today, AstroPrint launched a new Kickstarter campaign for its AstroBox Touch, along with a suite of products that will help simplify 3D printing for users active in the $5 billion 3D printing market.

“Since our last Kickstarter, our users have 3D Printed over half a million hours on our platform – that’s almost 60 years of 3D Printing! This campaign, for the AstroBox Touch, is the result of over 3+ years of direct feedback from this amazing community,” said Drew Taylor, co-founder and CEO of AstroPrint. “We are really excited to play a part in simplifying 3D Printing for the masses.”

The AstroBox Touch is well-named: it’s a powerful 3.5″ touchscreen, which synchronizes the user’s 3D printer across mobile apps, desktop software, and web portals, giving the user opportunities to extend its capabilities through AstroPrint’s app marketplace. The touchscreen is wireless, cloud-connected, and, according to the campaign page, “infinitely extensible with apps.”

“…Without quality content, 3D Printers are just giant, useless, paper weights,” explained Daniel Arroyo, CTO of AstroPrint and the architect of the platform. “The Touch is envisioned to be a device that gives unparalleled distribution power to third party app developers and content producers. We believe that the Touch is the most effective way to reach home 3D Printer owners at scale as the industry yearns for a disruptive killer app…”

The AstroBox Touch is plug and play, so it works right out of the box, connecting users’ 3D printers to the powerful AstroPrint Cloud. It was created to help people who are curious about 3D printing, but maybe aren’t super technologically inclined to use the technology without feeling intimidated or lost.

“Since Touch owners will have limitless options to extend its capabilities by tapping into the creativity of developers and content creators, each Touch will be a fully customized reflection of its owner,” said Arroyo. “We are taking the industry from flip phones to smartphones.”

Some of the other features of the AstroBox Touch include:

  • Runs AstroBox Touch software
  • Intuitive and easy to use; no self assembly required
  • Offers wireless control for your 3D printer without SD cards or cables
  • Developer friendly
  • Connected to AstroPrint ecosystem (including AstroPrint Cloud, Android and iPhone apps)
  • Powered by Raspberry Pi
  • Compatible with all 3D printers running standard Repetier, Marlin, and Sailfish firmware
  • Remote monitoring
  • Intelligent slicing
  • Ability to access print history and trends

Content creators and developers can use the AstroBox Touch to easily reach 3D printer owners by distributing applications on the AstroPrint platform.

AstroPrint has also released a suite of cross-platform desktop software applications (Linus, Windows, and OS X), mobile apps for iOS and Android platforms, and a public API, which is currently in beta. So the Touch can be used to connect your 3D printer with the AstroPrint Cloud, mobile and desktop apps, and developer APIs.

Early-bird Kickstarter backers can get an AstroBox Touch for just $100; this is a pretty good deal, as AstroPrint expects the MSRP to be $199. This reward also comes with beta access to the desktop and mobile apps, and a lifelong AstroPrint Cloud PRO plan – but unfortunately, early bird rewards are already sold out! The campaign just launched this morning, but has already well surpassed its funding goal of $10,000. You can still get in on the other rewards, though. A pledge of $150 gets you the AstroBox Touch 5″ DIY Kit, which will only be available through the Kickstarter campaign and comes with all of the necessary components to assemble a functioning Touch, including a power supply and a Raspberry Pi 3. Plenty of other rewards are available, too, which you can see on the Kickstarter campaign page.

To learn more, check out the Kickstarter campaign video:

Discuss in the AstroPrint forum at 3DPB.com.

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