A team from Perugia, Italy has developed a very interesting 3D printer controller board, the Alligator.
What makes the Alligator board different? They’ve taken a different philosophy as compared to many other opensource board projects, which have tended to produce the lowest-cost board possible. That’s not the case with the Alligator Board, as it focuses on quality.
The design addresses several concerns that 3D printer operators have encountered as the use of machines becomes more sophisticated: larger, longer and more intricate print details.
The main advantage of the Alligator Board appears to be speed: the board includes a 32-bit processor, whereas most other boards are only 8-bit. This should permit realtime processing of more highly detailed 3D models and thus faster speeds to drive mechanisms during printing.
A second key feature is power quality. The board includes a variety of power filters, “no blowing” connectors and similar to ensure a smooth delivery of power to moving equipment.
Finally, the Alligator board provides several connectivity features: easy native 26-pin connect to Raspberry Pi, 10/100 Ethernet, providing instant access to WiFi and other capabilities, unique MAC address, 33V display connector and more.
The board provides all possible connections one could imagine for today’s 3D printers, powering up to three extruders. However, if that isn’t enough, they also offer an expansion board that adds another three extruders’ worth of drivers. And they can even be configured for 1/32 steps.
The board seems to be set up to drive much more complex and reliable machines than previously possible, so if it catches on, we may seem some very interesting 3D printers emerge.
This board is not cheap, however. In the funding campaign, the lowest pledge level that gets you a working board is €160 (USD$170), and their eventual retail price is said to be €170 (USD$180). If you’re considering building a powerful desktop 3D printer, you might consider acquiring one of these interesting controllers.