OctoPrint is certainly one of the most well known systems in 3D printing, but do you know the story of how it came to be?
That story is described by the founder herself in a recent post on GitHub. Gina Häußge is the force behind the project, and created the original version many years ago. Today she’s still the main developer.
OctoPrint is open source software that makes “dumb” 3D printers “smart”. It runs in a PC or set-top box attached directly to any 3D printer offering a USB port to control the device, and its most basic ability is to start 3D print jobs without using the machine’s control panel.
While the software running a 3D printer is essentially locked away to most operators, the software in OctoPrint allows many more functions to be present, not the least of which is to connect the 3D printer to the rest of the Internet.
One of OctoPrint’s best features is its plug-in architecture, which allows developers to create all manner of unusual functionality that can be instantly installed on most OctoPrint instances. There are plug-ins to track filament usage, collect statistics, provide alerts, link to popular 3D model repositories and much, much more. You can use a variety of apps and devices to monitor OctoPrint operations on many platforms.
Today it is not only used by countless individual 3D printer operators, but it’s also become a corporate favorite: multiple 3D printer manufacturers either include or accommodate OctoPrint in some way in their commercial products.
OctoPrint is available for multiple platforms and in multiple languages, and it’s used by countless operators worldwide.
But how did OctoPrint come to be? That is revealed in a piece written by Häußge herself in GitHub. There she describes the moment she created the first version of OctoPrint:
“I was still employed at a big corporation as a software engineer at the time, so over the course of a week during my Christmas break, I wrote the first version of what is now OctoPrint. It was a basic web interface with feedback functionalities and webcam support. You could upload files and monitor the progress of the print job no matter how long it took. You could control the movements individually, if you wanted to set something up beforehand. I threw it on GitHub and added the link in the Google Plus community, which was pretty big on 3D printing back then.
Then my email inbox started to explode. Apparently, what I wanted was something a lot of other people wanted, too. It didn’t even have a name, but suddenly I had this huge open source project on my hands.”
And then her long journey began. Starting from a part-time, after-work exercise, the project grew and eventually became her full-time job.
Today Häußge is the main developer, and is supported solely by donations to the project. If you’re interested in supporting this highly valuable project, please consider doing so. Häußge accepts funds from all the usual donation services, such as Patreon, PayPal, donorbox, etc., but prefers supporters to use GitHub Sponsor, which does not involve service fees.
The 3D print community owes Häußge a great deal of thanks for her efforts. If you’d like to hear the entire story of her project, try the link below.