How to download, set up, and use OctoPrint

If you are a 3D designer, then you have probably heard the buzz about OctoPrint. This open source software allows for the remote access to your 3D Printer as well as monitoring capabilities of the print from any computer, smartphone, tablet, or dedicated compatible device. But how do you go about setting up and using OctoPrint? This article will give you a step by step instruction manual to get you up and running in no time.

Getting ready for Use

Step One: Download the Software

While you could go and just hit the download button on the OctoPrint Website, it is strongly recommended that you review a few of the ‘learn more’ tabs before you get started. Remember, this is open source software, and so you will want to ensure that whatever device you are downloading the software to can handle the coding and the size requirements needed. Once you are ready to download OctoPrint, click on the link, you will be directed to the appropriate page. Download the OctoPi 0.14 file.

Step Two: Install to a Raspberry

In order for the software to work, you need to have a Raspberry Pi A, B, A+, B+, B2, 3, Zero, or a Zero W. If you do not have Raspberry Pi yet, OctoPrint offers All-in-one kits.  To install the software you will need to open the .img file. This may require you to download or purchase .img reading software to open the file. Once the .img is unzipped and installed onto the memory card, configure your Wi-Fi connection on the octopi-network.txt file (you can open this in notepad). The root should be treated just like a thumb drive when configuring the network.

Step Three: Boot the Pi and Log in

Boot the Raspberry Pi from the card that you have dedicated for the OctoPrint software. Should it not launch, you either have a non-compatible card, or you have not configured the Wi-Fi properly. If the boot is successful, you should be able to log into your Pi through the SSH. The SSH is located in the local folder or in the IP config settings.

Step Four: Change your password

Everyone has the same password default which is ‘raspberry’. If you are going to use this Desktop 3D Printing Software, then you need to ensure that you do so securely. Pick something you can remember but not something too obvious. Once all this is done you are ready to launch the software.

Using the Software

Layers are how the OctoPrint software handles “slicing”. There is no specific slicing component at this time for parts in the traditional. stl sense of slicing. Should you wish to have this function, you will need Cura in order to make the slice profiles. Once this is done, open the interface and then set your temperature and other outlined printing processes within the program. Once you are done, open the .stl file into OctoPrint.


Image obtained through the public domain via Bing Search images.

The Interface

After the controls are opened in OctoPrint, you will see that there are 5 tabs which appear on the top right hand side of the program. These tabs allow you to monitor different aspects of your 3D Printer in real time. The tabs are temperature, control, GCode Viewer, Terminal, and Timelapse. On the left side of the page you will notice that you have the connection to your Wi-Fi, the state of the file to be printed as well as a list of the files which are to be printed. Note, you have the option to print from the remote access, as that is the primary purpose of the software. Files will be printed cascading down from the top of your file list to the bottom. Keep this in mind when importing sliced files. Rearranging your layers could result in a misprinted model. For example, you would not want the head of a creature printed in mid body because your files were not ordered correctly. If you use the .stl layer setup integrated into OctoPrint, do not change the layer order unless you know what you are doing.


Image taken from the OctoPrint Website

Get Training

While the software is fairly intuitive, there are some aspects which are continuously evolving. This, again, is due to the open source nature of OctoPrint, and the contributions from CAD Modellers and code developers. There are a number of free videos on Youtube and other video streaming sites to help you with the setup, running, and optimising of the OctoPrint software for use with your Desktop 3D Printer. Of course, you could always contact a support site, as that is what they are there for.

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