America Makes, the additive manufacturing center and Michigan Technological University have developed a new open-source, web-based 3D controller.

‘This open-source software, Franklin, enables a user to control their 3D printer or any other 3D device from any web connected device – a cell phone, tablet, or laptop from anywhere in the world.’ said Joshua Pearce, Michigan Tech professor in the department of materials science & engineering and the department of electrical & computer engineering.

The free software and firmware were written by Bas Wijnen, a PhD candidate at Michigan Tech as part of an America Makes project to develop low-cost 3D metal printers. Previously, the project has demonstrated metal printing for under US$1200. 

‘Franklin has the ability to recover from communication problems that we encountered when using low-cost welders to print steel and aluminum,’ explains Wijnen. ‘Franklin was developed as a software platform. It is scriptable – it is not a single-use piece of software. It can easily be integrated into anyone else’s projects. It makes your computer a general purpose machine that can help you make anything you can think of.’

‘As this is open source anyone in the world is welcome to build off of it to improve their own application,’ added Pearce. ‘For example, we have used it for plastic 3D printing on Cartesian and delta machines, laser welding, PCB micromilling, digital microscopy, vinyl cutting, plotting, food printing, embroidery and of course weld-based metal 3D printing.’ 

 A technical paper can be downloaded here.