‘3D Printing’. Those two words have a lot of meaning, but what do most people think about when they hear them? More than likely, they think that “3D printing” is an amazing piece of technology. However, at the same time, the majority of people have no idea where or how to get started. Of course you need to have a 3D printer, but then what? 3D printing involves so much more. It involves, designing models, slicing those models, creating gcode, and setting the printer up to run. Sure, this is perfectly fine for many of us. However, for those individuals who are not exactly ‘technically inclined’, 3D printing can throw a lot of hurdles their way.
AstroPrint is both a service and a device, wrapped into one tremendous sounding product. As for the device; the AstroBox is a small box, that some would consider to be a Raspberry Pi B (512K) on steriods. It is loaded with an 8GB SD card that has customized AstroPrint Pi Software pre-installed onto it. The software is open source and is a heavily modified version of the Octoprint project. Also included on the box is a WiFi USB (b,g,n).
This incredible AstroBox will be connected to your 3D printer via a USB cable. It then creates its own WiFi network that you can access via a wireless device, such as a smartphone, tablet, PC, laptop, etc. You no longer need to have your 3D printer hooked directly to your computer in order to print something out. Instead of using Repetier Host or Pronterface to control your printer, you can simply use AstroPrint wirelessly.
Wait, there’s more. Your AstroBox will connect to an account that you create on AstroPrint.com, which is a cloud slicing platform that will intelligently slice your designs, as well as organize your .stl files and gcodes. It is said to be “super fast” at slicing, and extremely reliable in creating gcodes.
AstroPrint will be compatible with the majority of the 3D printers on the market today. As long as your 3D printer has a USB cord, and it accepts gcode, then you should be fine. While it is a perfect solution for 3D printing beginners, they also claim to be a great product for the experts among us. Expert 3D printer users love to modify things, but most of the time, they also like things to remain simple, fast, and organized. This is where AstroPrint hopes to help.
Best of all, there will be some freemium options with this product (for the service).
“We are open source with a freemium service,” explained Drew Taylor CEO, Cofounder of 3DaGoGo, Inc to 3DPrint.com. “This means we will have a free service level. Only power users will need to upgrade to pay anything.”
As for the Kickstarter project, they have not yet determined all the pricing, but Taylor did have this to say about what we can expect.
“It’s safe to say that we will be offering our AstroBox starting around $75 and will include a Raspberry Pi B (512K), WiFi USB, power cable, case, AstroPrint software preloaded on an 8 GB SD card, and a lifetime subscription to AstroPrint.com. AstroPrint.com would normally charge for ‘pro accounts’ that get extra file storage, but most Kickstarter rewards will come with a free ‘pro account.”
The Kickstarter backer options will range from $5 to $3K and will include add-ons, such as laser engraved Raspberry Pi cases, pro accounts, and the option of being an early beta tester.
What do you think? Will you be backing AstroPrint when it launches on Kickstarter later this month? Discuss this project in the AstroPrint discussion thread on 3DPB.com.