Many companies are trying to sell 3d printers as the future of technology… with a blue LCD screen from the 80’s. Today, 3D printers are the only piece of technology that comes with such an antiquated user interface. But, do we really think that 3D printers can go mainstream while they come with the old monochrome display?
It is clear by now that cables and SD cards are not the future of 3D printing. As more users demand their printers to be wireless, 3D printer manufacturers are increasingly making wifi-connectivity a priority for their printer line. However, many of them are simply connecting a desktop 3D printer to a local network and that, is not the future.
A step further is to connect printers to a cloud platform. We live in the era of the internet of things, where every device gets connected to the cloud. However, most 3D printer manufacturers don’t really understand what the cloud does for a 3D printer. What are the advantages of cloud versus local network for 3D printers? Do 3D printers gain value when they are cloud-connected?
TL;DR: We made a OctoPrint plugin that connects your OctoPi to the AstroPrint cloud.
Many people (incorrectly) believe that AstroPrint is a competitor to OctoPrint.
This is a misunderstanding.
While the original open source AstroBox Gateway started out as a fork of OctoPrint back in 2014, our focus has veered off so far that OctoPrint is no longer comparable to AstroPrint.
AstroPrint’s primary goal is to build a simplified cloud ecosystem for 3D Printing and make it accessible to the general (non-technical) consumer.
The AstroPrint cloud ecosystem includes a full-fledged line of cross-platform Mobile and Desktop apps along with an API that allows any developer to reach tens of thousands of Desktop 3D Printer owners around the world.
In short, our users tend to be non-technical folks interested in managing and monitoring their 3D Printer from any device with minimal hassle.
Conversely, OctoPrint users tend to be technically savvy with a heavy interest in open source software and using their printer strictly on their local network. (more…)
The next few years are going to be exciting. Desktop 3D printers are going to be in everyone’s home and 3D printer manufacturers will sell units like candies at a kindergarten school. Right?
While I’m extremely positive about the future of Desktop 3D printers, the industry needs to first jump the “chasm” that separates the hobbyists and the early majority. Within the next 5 years, manufacturers that don’t make significant changes in their current strategy will miss on the next wave of customers.
What’s stopping desktop 3D printers from mass adoption?
So far, manufacturers have mostly focused on hardware, while software has been left behind. For this reason, we have seen a lot of hardware improvements. Printers are now faster and more reliable. They are also cheap, the Monoprice Mini is a good example of a printer that anyone can afford. Some printers are now beautiful to look at. Our friends at Kodama are putting together an affordable printer that almost looks like an iPhone. I can picture the new Obsidian looking great in anyone’s living room.
If Hardware has improved so much, then why we continue to sell to the hobbyists and not mainstream? The reason is: software has fallen behind.