3D Control Systems announced an arrangement with the OctoPrint project to provide support for software integrations.
3D Control Systems, parent of 3DPrinterOS, have been around for years developing sophisticated cloud-based control systems for operations and management of 3D printers, which almost always arrive as “dumb” standalone devices.
Through their efforts to integrate literately hundreds of different 3D printers into their network, they’ve gained substantial capabilities and knowledge on the topic, and are often called upon to perform integrations of one sort or another behind the scenes.
It’s very likely you have been using 3D printers that actually use 3DPrinterOS or their integrations. For example, the KODAK Portrait system we have in the lab here uses a cloud management system that is actually 3DPrinterOS under the covers.
On the other side of this arrangement is OctoPrint. It’s an open source project run by Gina Häußge, who built a sophisticated interface for managing a 3D printer remotely. This overcame the problems generated by 3D printers with lousy control panels. Some machines used tiny hard-to-read LCD panels, where others had literally nothing at all. OctoPrint transformed these “dumb” devices into smarter machines that were much more easily controlled and monitored
OctoPrint has been so successful that it has generated a great deal of demand. Apparently Häußge faces a tidal wave of integration requests from individuals and companies wishing to build custom versions of OctoPrint for their applications. “Custom” could mean as little as re-branding, or it could mean some type of specialized function based on the equipment involved or the environment where the equipment is located.
Why not simply build these integrations themselves? It turns out that many 3D printer companies are small and inexperienced in the ways of advanced software, which requires detailed knowledge of networking, firmware, cloud processing, security systems and much more. They must hope that the OctoPrint project might build this for them, but with Häußge being the sole dedicated developer on the project, that’s quite impossible.
Even if these integrations proceeded we’d end up with dozens or hundreds of OctoPrint software forks, which is undesirable and confusing. Worse, the integration work undertaken contains much repetitive work from project to project.
Why do this work over and over, and do it poorly?
That’s the rationality behind the announcement of 3D Control Systems as the “OctoPrint Corporate Sponsor Process Integrator”. This sounds a bit confusing, but I reached out to 3DPrinterOS Chief Architect John Dogru to find out what this really means.
It turns out that 3D Control Systems will sponsor the OctoPrint project, as well as providing rapid integration services as required for individuals and companies needing customized versions of OctoPrint for any reason.
While this is a paid service, it’s very likely Dogru’s experienced team can get it done properly and far more rapidly than a fresh software team figuring it all out from scratch. That’s because the 3DPrinterOS folks have done this type of integration many times previously and know all the common issues and challenges that require resolution.
Dogru hopes that eventually they’ll be able to produce a type of “OctoPrint Integration Starter Kit” that experienced coders might tackle themselves, but for others they could hire the 3DPrinterOS team to quickly assemble and configure the integration.
I believe this is very good news for almost everyone. It’s good for OctoPrint because it:
- Provides a means of far easier and more rapid integration of OctoPrint
- Reduces the load on the OctoPrint Project
- Increases the number of parties using OctoPrint
- Adds some business to 3D Control Systems
And makes life easier for more 3D printer operators in general.
Great work, 3D Control Systems!