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Consumerization of 3D Printing: Windows 8.1 drivers and a Windows Phone app

RepRap Phone Host

One of the many technology trends that we are looking forward to in 2014 is the consumerization of 3D printing, especially after Windows 8.1 introduced native 3D printing support last year. The first industry event of the year, CES 2014, reflected the excitement in the category with new 3D printers and new apps.

At the event, 3D printer manufacturer Beijing TierTime launched their Windows 8.1 3D printer driver to the world. Now owners of the TierTime Up Plus 2 and the affordable TierTime Up Mini 3D printers can experience the full benefits of 3D printing support on Windows 8.1.

Far from the technology glitz in Las Vegas, two 15 year old students in South Africa launched an interesting 3D printing app. RepRap Phone Host is a Windows Phone 8 app that allows you to process and then ultimately 3D print STL format 3D models on your RepRap-type 3D printer with ’firmware.

RepRap Phone Host

To get the app up and running, all you need is to add a Bluetooth serial bridge to your 3D printer, pair with it in the Bluetooth menu, and then just select it from the drop down menu inside the app to connect. The developer has also volunteered to help set things up for less seasoned users, and you can drop a mail to gerhard@bananna3d.com to connect.

The duo claims that their app is the first mobile application ever to allow users to print directly from a 3D (STL) model instead of a toolpath (GCode– Bananna which processes the model into a toolpath.

The app includes the ability to print models on a RepRap-type 3D printer over a Bluetooth connection as well as the ability to render STL and GCode files. The app allows opening STL and Gcode files from email et al, and uploading files to your SkyDrive.

If you indulge in 3D printing, download RepRap Phone Host for free from the Windows Phone Store, and let us know how it works for you. Check out www.bananna3d.com for more details about their project.

QR: RepRap Phone Host

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Reader comments

Consumerization of 3D Printing: Windows 8.1 drivers and a Windows Phone app

36 Comments

MS should run with this. Load app on phone, identify phone model, load case templates for phone, customize case, send directly to 3d printer.

I'm sure they will be in the future as people adopt them more and more. PCs and consoles had the same problem when they first came out.

That is cool! Now, if only I could print 2D on paper to my Epson from my phone. I hope those two South African cats are reading this!

Does Epson offer a print-by-email service, similar to what HP offers? No Google involved, that I know of.

Is there no way to print from your Windows Phone without going through Google Cloud Print?  I used to be the biggest Google user, but the more invasive the get, the less I want to have anything to do with them or their services.

If you have a networked printer in your home/office, isn't there a way to print remotely to that, kind of like the reverse of a remote media server?

STL is a file is a format you save 3d models into. Its like a skeleton frame if a part, broken into triangles. G-code is like tool path commands, that give the head directions like if you are looking at it from above. Usually you use STL file in 3d printing. I didnt even know people used g code for it, that's usually in cnc. Although it makes that you could. Basically the advantage of STL is that's the way anyone who would be printing would print, unless there were limitations. Wikipedia would probably make it more clear.

To clear it up, STL is used for both 3D printing and CNC (3D printing can be considered a type of CNC machine, CNC machining is subtractive, while 3D printing is additive). In CNC, the STL would be converted using a CAM program into tool paths, so that an assigned tool is designated to carve out an area, and multiple tools can be programmed to do finer details, holes, tapping, surfacing, etc....all of this is stored in g-code. In 3D printing, the STL is sliced by the 3D print software into layers, usually the z-axis. These slices are then converted into instructions on how to fill that slice in. This also can be stored in g-code, or a proprietary format that functions as g-code would. G-code in a 3D printer could store the x & y paths, and also when to turn the injector on and off, to move the z-axis for the next step, and continue loading the slices. Some 3D printers wouldn't require g-code, or a very simplistic form of it. Example, stereolithography 3D printing using DLP projectors. Instead, those would just take the slices and project them one at a time into the resin, move down, and project again. Of course there are many different types of 3D printers using different additive techniques, but using open source g-code for open source printers would make sense. This is a simplistic overview on the technologies, there's tons of info, lots of open source, on the technologies used in both, on the web.

I am always amazed at what the human mind can conceive.  As noted in the video, these kinds of things are usually incremental and backed by big money/big business.

Seeing what a couple of 15 year olds have come up with fills me with awe--and makes me wonder why my own life is so....not awe.

Now if I can just figure out how to motivate my own kids to apply themselves like this. :)

Motivation needs to come from within. Either you got it or you don't. The key is finding something that you (and your kids) are passionate about.

Microsoft should reward these kids handsomely and preload it on every phone, and a similar app on every Windows tablet/laptop/workstation. Turn the 3D printers they already have on display in the Microsoft Store as mini 3D print shops for the public to use for a fee, like the 3D print shops starting to open now. Market the heck out of the feature as though everyone the world has one. This is a chance for Microsoft to ride the leading edge of this wave, and theirs to throw away for Apple and Google to grab.

Hi all, I am Gerhard from Bananna3D and I would just like to comfort all of you complaining on the cost of a 3D printer that we are working on a high quality affordable 3D printer that will come out with far nicer app intergration. Just keep intermittently looking at our site www.bananna3d.com or send me an email on gerhard@bananna3d.com if you want to be kept up to date.p>

Regarding UI changes we will look into this as well as the possibility of Marlin support but at the moment we reccomend everyone just use Repetier because at the moment our focus is on our new printer and app, not this app.