America Makes and Michigan Tech Bring Mobile Control to 3D Printing

As part of its additive manufacturing (AM) applied research and development (R&D) project on “Metal Alloys and Novel Ultra-Low-Cost 3D Weld Printing Platform for Rapid Prototyping and Production,” America Makes Platinum-level member, Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech), developed a new open-source, Web-based 3D controller called Franklin.

Franklin allows users to manage their 3D printer or any other 3D device from any Web-connected device—a cell phone, tablet, or laptop—from anywhere in the world, mitigating current limitations associated with 3D printer control systems. Moreover, using its custom protocol, Franklin also enables printing to continue even if the connection is temporarily lost and promotes communication with scripts and is intended to be easily integrated into other projects.

Developing a free, scriptable, software platform to support the maker movement for low-cost, open-source control of 3D printing

The free control system software and firmware were written by Bas Wijnen, a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan Tech, as part of the America Makes project to develop low-cost 3D metal printers. The project successfully demonstrated metal printing for under $1,200.

NCDMM manages America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the national accelerator for AM and 3D printing. America Makes is a public-private membership organization with the mission to develop the standards, tools, education, and research required to innovate and accelerate AM and 3DP to increase our nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness.