Remotely Control Your 3D Printer With Free, Open-Source Software

A team of engineers at Michigan Technological University (MTU) has released free, open-source web-based software and firmware that remotely control your 3D printer. It can also control any 3D robot.

The America Makes project is aimed at developing low-cost metal 3D printers. The team has already demonstrated, open-source, weld-based metal 3D printing technology that can be built for under $1,200.

Open-source 3-D metal printer

Open-source 3-D metal printer (Source:

Bas Wijnen, a doctoral candidate at MTU, wrote the free motion control software and firmware, called Franklin. “Franklin can recover from communication problems that we encountered when using low-cost welders to print steel and aluminum,” he said. It can be operated from any web-connected device, including laptops, cell phones, or tablets.

Franklin was developed as a software platform and is scriptable, so it can be easily integrated into others’ projects. The team has used it for several different applications in addition to weld-based metal 3D printing. These include plastic 3D printing on Cartesian and delta machines, laser welding, PCB micromilling, food printing, and digital microscopy.

Read the technical paper Free and Open-source Control Software for 3-D Motion and Processing.

The low-cost 3D printer previously designed by Pearce and his team combines gas-metal arc welding and a version of the RepRap open source 3D printer. You can access a bill of materials and download plans for building this printer on that project’s wiki page.

> Read more by Ann R. Thryft, Design News, July 6, 2016