You are looking for the best way to control your 3D printer and turn it into a smartprinter. If you are not averse to using a browser-based control panel that will allow you to stream from a webcam, start, pause and resume print jobs while slicing your STL files, you may consider the Photon Elephant.
The Photon Elephant uses the tiny, low-cost, credit card sized, single board computer – the Raspberry Pi or RBPi – to drive the motor controllers of your printer. A conventional SDK or Software Development Kit uses the GPIO pins of the RBPi for the controls. This is all open-source, which means you can tinker with it to your heart’s content. For example, you may want more than what the standard 5-motor controller has to offer. With the Photon Elephant, you can have more time innovating rather than figuring out what makes the firmware tick.
Photon Elephant provides you a bunch of software and hardware based on the RBPi that controls your 3D printer. Printers available in the market typically use an Arduino, without an operating system, to manage the sensors and motors, while the RBPi is used to send it commands. Photon Elephant puts the power of Linux directly into your printer by eliminating the Arduino.
Anyone can build on the simple but powerful Photon Elephant platform. The platform makes it easier to create new and exciting types of 3D printers. Available open source solutions for controlling 3D platforms tend to be out of date and tedious. With the Photon Elephant, the next generation of 3D printers will be more flexible to control.
Entrepreneurs, students, makers and hackers anyone can easily use the Photon Elephant. It handles the entire stack and controls everything from sensors, motors and the User Interface. If you are looking for the simplest solution for getting your printer up and running, Photon Elephant is for you. Additionally, with the Photon Elephant SDK, you have the easiest platform you can build upon.
There is no firmware to be flashed. Use the pre-programmed image on the SD card and plug it in to fire up your RBPi. All you require to do is to connect any compatible printer to the Photon Elephant companion board and you can start using your printer. All the different firmware such as the slicer and printer managers talk seamlessly to one another. Therefore, you simply have to open up a browser on any device and start using the printer over Wi-Fi.
The 3D printing industry is moving forward very rapidly and printers become outdated very quickly. Currently, Photon Elephant is able to support Cartesian RepRap style of printers only. Very soon, Delta printers will also be supported. The SDK is flexible to take on almost any printer methodology.
Flexibility is extremely desirable considering how difficult it is to predict the direction the 3D industry may be taking. There is no sense in spending time in modifying the firmware directly on a chipset as it may become useless by tomorrow. The flexibility of the Photon Elephant SDK helps the user keep up with the industry, as it is very easy to add newer features to the current design