There’s a battle going on among a few companies like PrintToPeer, 3D Printer OS, and Astroprint to become the defacto software for desktop 3D printers. I have written about this before, and one of the main problems these companies have is getting permission to create plug-ins for popular desktop systems,such as Makerbot and Formlabs. Advocates of RepRap printers would turn this problem on its head by saying that this promotes the use of RepRap printers, which is good for the RepRap community’s economy.
Dutch Company Printr has had a Formide OS in the pipelines since May of last year. This past October, they stated that their Formide OS would be released the following month. We are still waiting, but, apparently, there is a reason, they haven’t finished working. I understand how hard it can be to stop working and let something go and I think Printr is just trying to get it right. After all, they had to add “The Element”: you know, a dongle.
CEO of Printr Douwe Bart Mulder, explains:“When my friends and I first started out with 3D printing, we had to spend hours and hours trying to master all the different programs that are needed to print a simple keychain. Even when we did figure it all out, the slicer kept crashing, we had to constantly watch the printer and eventually, we ran out of(useful/relevant/practical) things to print.”
Depending of your level of experience and the model of desktop 3D printer you use, configuring your printer can be an issue. That’s what their new plug & play USB dongle is designed for. You plug it into your 3D printer and you are privy to the following features:
- WIFI ENABLED 3D PRINTING
- POWERFUL CLOUD ENABLED SLICER
- EASY & INTUITIVE MODELING
- REMOTE CONTROLLING & MONITORING
- AUTOMATED 3D FILE REPAIRING & HEALING
- QUEUING SYSTEM FOR MULTIPLE USERS PER PRINTER
- EXTENSIVE MATERIALS & PRINTER DATABASE FOR PERFECT SLICING PROFILES
- SHARING OF FILES WITH OTHER COMMUNITY MEMBERS
“The Element” is supposed to be easy enough to get beginners over some typical configuration hurdles, as well as give them access to the above features. It’s also supposed to be versatile enough that advanced users would want to use it.
Printr has just formed a partnership with the Dutch 3D printer manufacturer FELIXrobotics, who’ve agreed to sell Formide OS in a bundle with their next new model of 3D printer. They’ve decided to start selling it with their next generation 3D printers,as well as with their current generation. This is also very interesting, given that FELIX has just been announced as partner with Materialise with their FELIX Builder 3D printing software. FELIX Builder and Formide must work together or there are some interesting business dynamics in place.
The CEO of FELIXrobotics BV, Guillaume Feliksdal, made a statement about the partnership saying, “The combination of our 3D printers & FormideOS will make it significantly easier for our customers to start 3D printing. This enables us to reach a broader audience and will be a big leap towards the mainstream consumers. FormideOS is an ingenuous solution that will bring 3D printing to the next level.” FELIXrobotics is not the first to be bundled with Formide OS, however, as Nectar3D also bundles their printers with Formide OS.
Printris finally gearing up for their long-awaited Kickstarter campaign, which should jump off around the 26th of January. The competition will heat up this year as companies like Printr and AstroPrint try to pull ahead of one another by advancing, improving, and adding features, as well as by partnering up with 3D printer companies who would prefer to focus on the hardware, and leave the software to someone else.
Editor’s Update 2/5/14: The Element is officially live on Kickstarter! Seven days after their launch, Printr has reached 35% of its funding goal with at least 150 backers placing orders for the Element dongle. With the Kickstarter, the company has made an exciting update to their campaign. Rather than offering a camera feature as a stretch goal to the campaign, the company has decided to incorporate the feature right off the bat. The software for the Element has also been upgraded to include basic support for a number of new printers (about 80!) when the device begins shipping in July.
The company has also announced that, once officially launched, the Element will be find distribution through Trideus, for the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), and Hawk 3D Proto, for the UK. The price for the Element will be about $140 USD (125 Euro).
For more information or to back the campaign, visit the Element page on Kickstarter.