"Utilizing state-of-the-art digital tools to increase productivity in a secure environment is key to success. The organized work flow and time savings we gain with Astroprint directly benefits our customers."
~ Matthew Fielder | Co-Founder & Head of Technology at re3D
Trusted by the most successful companies to improve the way they 3D Printing
Frequently Asked Questions
No. You will need one AstroBox for each 3D Printer in your fleet. Attempting to run multiple 3D Printers off of a single AstroBox (i.e. Raspberry Pi Board) would likely result in failed prints due to hardware limitations of the board. (For example, GCODE stuttering.) At minimum, video streaming would be seriously affected.
The AstroBox can connect to a network using either WiFi (wireless) or Ethernet (wired) connections.
All the traffic between the AstroBox and our servers is SSL encrypted.
In order to communicate with our servers and deliver real time updates and monitoring we have the following requirements on the network that it connects to:
- Automatic IP assignment via DHCP.
- Route to api.astroprint.com using port 443 for HTTPS connections.
- Route to boxrouter.astroprint.com using port 443 for a persistent Secure WebSocket connection.
In addition and optionally if you would like to use the live streaming feature, we need a Point to Point WebRTC connection to be established. The following 3rd party article explains well the requirements and pitfalls of establishing a WebRTC connection between two points. In our case it would be the AstroBox and the browser or app at the user requesting the video.
The AstroPrint platform is built with a modular Cloud Slicing system. This means that slicing jobs will be routed through the Slicing Engine you recommend for your printer(s).
Currently, we can route slicing jobs through:
- Cura Engine - We work hard to have the most up to date version possible of Cura Engine in the AstroPrint cloud. You (and your customers) can set and tweak every setting available in Cura.
- Slic3r, Prusa Edition - The Prusa Edition of Slic3r is by far the widest used at the moment, which is why we have it as an option. When choosing "Slic3r" as an option in AstroPrint, you are choosing the Prusa Edition of Slic3r.
- Others - Almost any slicing engine can be integrated into AstroPrint. We'll consider adding more slicing engines as new engines hit widespread usage.
For technical reasons, each 3D Printer you connect to the AstroPrint platform will need to have an AstroBox connected to the printer. This is what allows the printer's data/images/status/etc to be accessible through your AstroPrint account (via web portal, mobile app, desktop software, etc). At first, it may seem like this would be very expensive, but there are ways to do this efficiently and cheaply.
You have two options for hardware. The AstroBox Touch (ABT) or the AstroBox Gateway (ABG). For each of these, you can purchase plug and play units from our store, or you can download the software and make your own (you source your own hardware components).
- AstroBox Touch (ABT) - Purchase - The ABT is by far the preference of most users. The unit includes a touchscreen which increases the functionality of the AstroBox dramatically. Most 3D Printer Farms simply purchase AstroBox Touch units directly from AstroPrint. Currently they retail for $199, however we offer bulk purchase discounts for 3D Printer Farms. Please reach out to us for bulk pricing info. :-)
- AstroBox Touch (ABT) - DIY - For a lower cost option, you can download the ABT software ($40/unit, bulk discounts are available), then source your own RPis, touchscreens, power adapters, and enclosures (or just print your enclosures). This will run you $80 to $100 per unit total. You will need to source your own hardware, flash software, assemble units, etc.
- AstroBox Gateway (ABG) - The ABG provides the same networking functionality of the AstroBox Touch, but without a screen. This actually makes it much more technical to set up and maintain. Retail kits are $99. For a DIY version, you can download the software for free and source your own RPi, power adapter, and wifi dongle. This means you could make one of these for ~$60.
- Honorable Mention - OctoPrint Plugin You can also use AstroPrint’s OctoPrint Plugin. The hardware cost is identical to using the AstroBox Gateway. Basically, you can use OctoPrint on your own RPis, with the AstroPrint Plugin installed. We do not charge for the plugin. This plugin will connect your OctoPrint box to the AstroPrint Cloud.
Please note: Due to limitations in OctoPrint there are some features that will likely never be available, such as out-of-network video streaming. Also, updates and bug fixes are released for AstroBox software before they are released for the OctoPrint plugin.
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