3D printing supplies and software developer MatterHackers--a company we’ve enjoyed following for some time now–has just released the newest version of their open source MatterControl 3D printing software. The MatterControl 1.4 update brings a grip of new features and upgraded functionality designed to streamline and simplify the 3D printing workflow. The focus seems to be on connectivity, with free cloud storage, web-based 3D printer controls and new compatibility with several more models of desktop 3D printers. And they even added in a new feature to easily create prints optimized for the visually impaired.
MatterControl has always been designed to be as simple as possible while still being one of the most robust and 3D printing workflow managers available. Their setup process is quite simple and easy to use, including a powerful slicing feature, email or text notifications, print queuing, in-queue 3D model editing and full 3D print previewing. The free MatterControl 1.4 update adds an even greater emphasis on ease of use and adaptability with its new cloud features that allow a much greater control over how and when users start, monitor and control their 3D prints.
“3D printers are all about technology automating the task of making things, but 3D printing is about people. Specifically, it’s about enabling people to turn their ideas into reality with as little mucking about with the ‘technology’ as possible – that’s where MatterControl comes in,” said MatterHackers’ Chief Executive Officer, Lars Brubaker.
The new Cloud Design Library is one of the huge new features for the MatterControl update. The Cloud Library includes two gigabytes of free cloud storage for 3D printable files. Users can access the files that are stored in the Cloud from anywhere, and they are available to initiate a 3D printing job directly from the web. Print jobs can be started from the MatterControl Desktop, the MatterControl Touch, and any MatterControl-enabled 3D printer–including someone else’s MatterControl-enabled 3D printer. You can find more detailed information about the Cloud Library here.
“MatterControl now combines the best of both worlds – the convenience and reliability of a standalone application plus the accessibility and connectivity of the cloud. With both Cloud Library and remote control we’re leveraging the web in a way that adds functionality without taking away from the inherent dependability of the software,” explained MatterControl’s lead designer Kevin Pope.
The new cloud-enabled functionality also includes the ability to share 3D models with other users. They simply need to log into their account in order to access their 3D design files from anywhere, and they can print on a friend’s 3D printer, at a hackspace or a school 3D printing lab. The new Simple Sharing feature also allows users to share access with any 3D models stored in the cloud. Sharing can be done privately by sending access directly to an individual or by creating a redeemable ‘share code’ that allows users to grant anyone with the code access their 3D file.
“There are plenty of great public repositories of 3D printable designs currently, but sometimes you want or need to publish files in a more restricted context. We wanted to provide a channel for that sort of sharing,” Pope continued.
MatterControl 1.4 also added new functionality to render design icons in 3D, making it simple to switch between, monitor and manage multiple printing jobs. The new Sync feature allows users the ability to start and stop print jobs remotely as well as setup and reorder a printing queue directly from the web. And users of MatterControl Touch haven’t been left out, they can also view their in-progress prints online using the onboard camera.
Additionally the new update expands the number of supported 3D printers that are compatible with MatterControl. The 1.4 update includes full support for any printers using X3G-based firmware like the MakerBot family of 3D printers and Flashforge 3D printers. Community-generated profiles with optimized settings for the new list of supported printers will be included, simplifying the set-up process. Here is an up-to-date list of all MatterControl supported 3D printers.
The coolest new feature of MatterControl 1.4 is the integrated Braille Builder plugin tool that will automatically generate 3D printable Braille labels. The new labels can be automatically included on uploaded 3D print jobs so there is no need to model them. This is a pretty fantastic educational tool that can allow schools to include their visually impaired students in STEM education programs. The Braille Builder plugin currently supports Grade 1 English Braille, but Grade 2 English Braille expected to be added soon.
The MatterControl Version 1.4 update is available now for PC users of both MatterControl Touch and MatterControl Desktop. The Mac and Linux updates are expected to be released on October 12th. New users can download the up to date version directly from the MatterControl website. Discuss this update in the MatterControl Forum thread on 3DPB.com.