Nov.13, 2013

3D printing is cool stuff. But it is often annoying that you have to keep the PC running for hours or days during printing process. You can also buy a SD Card slot + LCD screen for the printer but that is expensive. What if there was a way for you to print 3D objects without the need for a computer?

Mathias Dietz has developed an Android App 'GCode Simulator & Printer' that allows you to control 3D printers and visualize the 3D print from Android devices.

Connect the Android device to the printer

Since most printers use a serial communication over USB, your Android device must support the USB Host feature (USB OTG). Once the printer is connected to the Android device with a USB OTG cable, Android will detect the USB device and start the App. When the printer has responded successfully, the printer control panel on your phone screen can be used to send manual commands like X/Y/Z movements, home axis, temperature control etc. Dietz says most Android devices are able to achieve an average IO latency of 5-10ms which is enough for printing at high speed. Dietz has also added Bluetooth support to allow users to print wireless with a serial bluetooth module (e.g. JY-MCU).

GCodeSimulator (print simulator)

The GCodeSimulator lets you visualize Gcodes and simulate a real 3D print. GCode Simulator recognizes the movements and print speeds and can simulate the print in realtime, but you can also speed-up the printing process (fast forward). Each layer is painted in a different colour showing how a layer overlaps with the layer below. In addition to the top level view it also renders a front and side view of the object.

In addition it analyses the Gcode file and information like:

  • Print time (Overall/By Layer)
  • Required filament (Mass,Weight,Price)
  • XY move distance
  • Print object dimension
  • Average print/travel speeds (Overall/By Layer)
  • Number of layers
  • Layer details (Time, Temperature, Fan, Speed)
  • Speed distribution / Acceleration (Overall/By Layer)
  • Weight and price of the printed object

With this app you can check how your print would turn out, making it easier to spot and fix errors without wasting your material.

The slicer process still needs to be done on a PC using Skeinforge, Sli3r or other tools. There are many ways to copy the gcode to the Android App, either by using 3rd Party apps like Dropbox, CIFS client, file explorer or by using the build in network receiver which listens incoming gcode files. Sending gcode files to the app can simply be added as a slicer post processing script to automate the sending once the slicing is finished.

The App is offered in two versions, the free version includes the GCodeSimulator as well as basic printer control (XYZ Movement, Extruder, Heat, etc). The full version offers full printing support for just 1.99€.

Find more information about Gcode Simulator & Printer App here.

Posted in 3D Software



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Adam B wrote at 11/14/2013 4:49:25 PM:

This is really exciting! What a great use for a 1 or 2 year old phone rather than just shoving it in a drawer to collect dust. (because no one was going to buy my old GSII anyways). Big thanks to Mathias

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