Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Apple’s Open Source Printing System, CUPS Version 2.1, Adds 3D Printer Support

ST Medical Devices

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c1As 3D printing technology inches into the mainstream, users of various devices are requiring easy compatibility between their PCs, laptops, and tablets, and the various desktop 3D printers currently on the market. While we’ve seen Microsoft push forward with initiatives to better integrate 3D printing into their Windows 8 and Windows 10 operating systems, we are still a ways away from the ease in compatibility seen within the 2D printing space, and Apple’s Mac compatibility is still seemingly lagging behind.

This week, however, is an interesting one for the world’s most expensive company. Not only has Apple been issued a patent for a stylus which can 3D scan objects, creating models which could then be 3D printed, but they’ve also announced an update to their Common Unix Printing System (CUPS). In the CUPS version 2.1, release candidate 1, the Apple supported printing system has added basic 3D printer support.

CUPS, for those not familiar with the system, functions for Unix-like operating systems and allows the computer to act as a print server, accepting print jobs from client computers using the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) before processing them and sending them off to the appropriate machine to be printed. The system was adopted by Apple in 2002 for Mac OS 10.2, and in 2007 the source code was purchased by Apple as they hired its chief developer Michael Sweet.

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The update, which includes several changes, bug fixes and additions, will now support only basic 3D printers, with no built-in filters, based on the Printer Working Group White Paper policy and template, according to the CUPS.org blog. What this means is that most of the common open source printers will be supported, but the 3D printers which are built on a closed framework likely will not.c5

The other changes in this version include:

  • Updated autoconf sources
  • Signal handlers in the dnssd and usb backends have been fixed
  • Fixed domain socket support on Linux
  • Bugs in the journald support have been fixed

While this is good news of Mac users looking to streamline the 3D printing process from their computers, there is still a ways to go before the 3D printing process is as easy and effortless as its 2D printing counterpart. Unlike the 2D printing space, where a few companies dominate the market, there are literally hundreds of 3D printer makes and models out there, making near-complete compatibility something which will take a lot of hard work on the part of developers.

Let us know your thoughts on this latest update in the CUPS 3D Printer Support forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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