Cal State Student Uses $35 Raspberry Pi to Untether His 3D Printer

Zachary Bales, undergraduate student at Cal State Long Beach, hacked his Raspberry pi and 7” tablet to untether his personal laptop from hours of 3D printing.

The electrical engineering and physics student was tired of his laptop being shackled to his 3D printer for upwards to 5 hours for each project so he devised a way to use the cheaper, microcomputer instead. Zachary still needs to use a laptop to create the 3D forms and splice the geometries for printing, but the Rpi is a cheaper alternative that maximizes all of his devices. The hacked system is easily transportable:

I just wanted to make a self-contained system that was easily transportable… Right now I am saving everything to my Dropbox account and just downloading the G-Code files on the Pi.

I will probably end up setting up an FTP server on the Pi so I can just drop the G-Code files in that folder and then it will be uploaded to the Pi. The only thing that the Pi gives me an advantage in right now is that I can easily move the system from one location to another without having to unplug everything, then plug it back in.

This hacked raspberry pi and tablet combo can allow users to monitor their print project with webcams and a wi-fi network to make sure nothing is awry. When I was in school, our shared 3D printer was attached to a desktop PC and students often came back to find their projects as grotesque versions of the 3D forms they had designed. A live webcam would have prevented these disastrous print job.