Thursday, 6 December 2012

3D printing at home from work over ssh and vnc

I'm sure I'm not the only one with this dilema - 3D printers are awesome but they are also slow! Or I'm impatient! But either way I've been looking for a way to keep an eye on my printer while I'm at work so that I can print things during the day.

I see 2 issues that need to be overcome:

  • Controlling the printer
  • The fire hazard

Controlling the printer is pretty easy - I use pronsole over ssh and have in the past used pronterface over vnc. This is all very well but when I press print - what if the print fails and doesn't stick? I don't want to waste that much plastic, or break the printer for that matter! To fix this I've just ordered a webcam which I will point at the printer and broadcast online so that I can see the print fail and just cancel the print. I don't know how to automatically clear the bed after a failed print so this may be an issue, but most the time there shouldn't be a problem.

The fire hazard though - I don't want to set the house alight when the thing overheats! I've hear of a few replicators that caught fire, never a printrbot - but I don't want to risk it and I don't have a fire proof room. Because of this I'm only confortable printing when someone's in the house.

My girlfriend has very different working hours from me so quite often she's at home when I'm at work. Unless you're other half wants to learn to use the printer you'll still have to controll it through ssh/vnc but at least if you have a webcam you can ask them to clear the print bed so you can start the next one, and they'll be able to unplug it at least if it starts smoking!

Soon as I have the cam set up (I ordered it off ebay yesterday so still waiting) I'll try to put the stream on this blog so interested people can watch in amazement as things are printed infront of their eyes. I'll also work out how to use ffmpeg to make timelapses that I can put on my currently very small YouTube channel.

Any of you tried setting up remote printing? If so how did you get over the fire hazard issue?


  1. Nice post with great details. I need Plastic cards printer for home use. Where i can get the best one?

    1. I don't really know where to point you as this is about 3D printing, not plastic card printing. If you Google plastic cards printer you get loads of shopping results.

    2. That said - a 3d printer can print plastic cards - just not yet photo realistic.