Many users wonder if it’s possible to 3D print without a computer or a laptop. While it may not be the most common option, it is certainly possible and there are a lot of people doing it.
To 3D print without a computer or laptop, you can use a 3D printer with built-in Wi-Fi and touchscreen or put the G-Code file in an SD card at a library or internet café. You can also use a mobile app or a tablet that can connect to a 3D printer and download a 3D printing app that allows you to control it.
Keep on reading to find out more about how to 3D print without a computer or laptop.
How to 3D Print Without a Computer or Laptop
While it is possible to 3D print without a computer or a laptop, you’ll need either a mobile phone or a tablet with access to the internet to be able to 3D print successfully.
These are the main ways to 3D print without a computer or laptop:
- Use a 3D printer with built-in Wi-Fi and touchscreen
- Use an SD card and put G-Code files from a library or internet café
- Use a mobile phone/tablet 3D printing app
- Use a Raspberry Pi
- Hire a 3D printing service
1. Use a 3D Printer with Built-in Wi-Fi and Touchscreen
Some 3D printers come with built-in Wi-Fi and a touchscreen interface, making it easy to operate them without the need for a computer or laptop.
With this type of printer, you can connect to the Wi-Fi network, download the necessary design files or models, and start printing directly from the touchscreen interface.
This approach provides a convenient and straightforward way to print your designs, without needing to transfer files to an SD card or connect to a separate computer.
When using a 3D printer with built-in Wi-Fi and a touchscreen, you can also adjust various print settings and monitor the progress of your print job directly from the printer’s interface. This means you can make changes on-the-fly, without having to switch to a different device.
One user stated that he enjoys 3D printers with built-in Wi-Fi and touchscreen as he’s able to choose models to print directly from the touchscreen and even pause or stop the prints.
2. Use an SD Card and Put G-Code Files from a Library or Internet Café
Another way to 3D print without a computer or laptop is by using an SD card to transfer print files to the printer. This method is particularly useful for those who don’t have internet access or don’t want to use their mobile device to transfer files.
Users can simply download G-code files from a library or internet café, save them to an SD card, and then insert the card into the 3D printer. Once the file is selected from the printer’s interface, the printer will begin the printing process.
Using an SD card for 3D printing also allows for increased portability and flexibility. Users can easily transfer files between different printers and locations, making it a great option for those who need to 3D print on the go.
Additionally, SD cards can store many files, making it easier to keep track of 3D print projects.
3. Use a Mobile Phone/Tablet 3D Printing App
There are several 3D printing apps available for both iOS and Android devices that will work on both phones and tablets.
Here are the most popular mobile apps that allow you to create and print 3D models without the need for a computer or laptop.
Octo4A is one of the most popular options when it comes to 3D printing without a computer or laptop. It is designed to work on Android phones only. Take a look at the first print one user did with Octo4A and an old Android phone.
The apps provide a mobile interface for OctoPrint but without the need for a Raspberry Pi, making it easier for you to control and monitor your 3D printer from your phone or tablet.
Here are the main steps in order to 3D print with Octo4A:
- Download and install the app
- Connect your phone to the 3D printer
- Choose a 3D design and load it into Octo4A
- Start the print
1. Download and Install the App
Octo4A is a powerful app that allows users to control their 3D printer directly from their mobile phone or tablet without the need for a Raspberry Pi.
You can download Octo4A on its official GitHub page. Your phone or tablet may ask you to enable third-party installations or make sure you confirm the installation as the app is not available through conventional app stores.
Once the app is downloaded, simply follow the on-screen instructions to install it onto your mobile device. Just be aware to install all the plugins available, that way you can make sure to have access to all of Octo4A features.
2. Connect Your Phone to the 3D Printer
The next step is to connect your phone or tablet to your 3D printer. The easiest way to do this is by using a USB cable to connect your mobile device directly to the printer.
You’ll need to get a USB OTG adapter that also features a way for you to keep charging your phone as it may run out of battery while it is connected to the 3D printer and that could cause a failed print.
Users recommend getting the LecLooc USB C to USB Adapter with Type C Charging, which allows you to connect your phone to a 3D printer and also to a charger.
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One user stated that he bought this adapter to use with Octo4A and it has worked perfectly and features great build quality. Once connected, Octo4A will automatically detect your printer and allow you to control it from your phone.
3. Choose a 3D Design and Load it into the App
Before you can start printing, you’ll need to choose a 3D design to print. There are a variety of websites and apps that allow you to download 3D models for free or for a fee. Some popular options include Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory, and Thangs.
After choosing a 3D design, you’ll need to access the Octoprint browser interface. You can do it from the browser of your mobile phone or tablet. Just copy the IP address that’s showing on the main screen of the Octo4A app and paste it into the browser you’re using.
By doing that, you’ll be able to access the Octoprint browser interface where you can upload a G-code for it to be printed.
You will not be able to print .stl files that have not been sliced with Octo4A, only G-codes. I wrote an article about the Best Free 3D Printer G-Code Files – Where to Find Them, that can help you choose some cool G-codes to download.
4. Start the Print
With your 3D model loaded into Octo4A and your printer connected, it’s time to start the print. Once you’re ready to start the print, tap the “Print” button in the Octoprint web interface and wait for the printer to start.
One user stated that running Octo4A on your phone is a better and cheaper alternative than buying a Raspberry Pi. He used the app on his old Pixel A3 phone and was able to do successful prints.
Another user stated that he prefers being able to print via Octo4A from his phone than relying on micro SD cards.
Check out the video below for more detailed information about the Octo4A.
Another option to 3D print without a computer or laptop is using 3DPrinterOS, which is a popular app that allows you to manage and print your 3D models from anywhere using your mobile phone.
To use the platform, the first step is to create an account through the app on your mobile phone. Once you have signed in, you can add your 3D printer by selecting its make and model and entering its IP address.
The process may vary depending on your printer, so make sure to follow the instructions carefully.
After you have added your 3D printer, you can begin uploading and printing your 3D models directly from your mobile device. You can upload the .stl file from your phone or tablet, or from cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox.
The app features a cloud-based slicer, which guides you through the process of slicing the 3D model. Once the 3D model is sliced, you can start the print directly from your mobile phone. The app sends the G-code to your 3D printer, and the printer will begin printing the object.
While the software is not entirely free, there is a free trial period, which allows you to use the software for a limited time with limited features.
After the free trial period, the price for the software starts at around $20 per month for up to 10 printers and 10 users. If you need to manage more printers or users, the price will increase accordingly.
Check out the video below for detailed information about 3DPrinterOS.
AstroPrint is another popular option that allows you to 3D print without the need for a computer or laptop. It is a cloud-based 3D printing app that allows you to upload and slice your 3D models from your mobile device.
First, you need to download the app and create an account. Then, you can connect your 3D printer to AstroPrint using either a USB OTG adapter, such as the LecLooc USB C to USB Adapter with Type C Charging, or a Wi-Fi connection.
The next step is to select a 3D model to print, either from your mobile device or the cloud-based model library within the app. Once you have selected a model, you can preview it and make adjustments to its size and orientation.
Before you can start printing, you need to slice your 3D model using AstroPrint’s built-in slicer.
Finally, you can initiate the print from your mobile device, and AstroPrint will take care of the rest, including sending the sliced model to your printer, heating the printer bed and nozzle, and starting the print.
AstroPrint’s integration with Thingiverse is also a great feature, allowing you to browse through Thingiverse’s vast library of 3D models within the app.
One user stated that by using AstroPrint he’s able to import designs directly from Thingiverse and slice them online. After that, he can send them to be printed all through his phone, without using a computer or a laptop.
Another user stated that using the AstroPrint app was the only way he was able to 3D print without the use of a computer or a laptop. He was able to 3D print a Benchy using the built-in Thingiverse browser and slicer 200 miles away from his printer, just using his iPhone.
Check out the video below for a tutorial on how to 3D Print from your phone using AstroPrint.
4. Use a Raspberry Pi
Another option that does not include a normal computer or laptop to 3D print is using a Raspberry Pi, which is a small type of computer that can be used to run a 3D printer.
It’s Linux-based and allows you to control the printing process, besides being able to design and slice 3D models.
To use a Raspberry Pi, you will need to install the necessary software. You can find the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B from the Raspberry Pi website and pick a reseller to buy it. You can also purchase it on Amazon, but the prices are significantly higher.
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One user highly recommends the Raspberry Pi, he’s been using it to control their 3D printer with Octoprint. He stated that it worked great and setup was easy with the device being able to perform really well.
OctoPrint is a popular software that you can use to control your 3D printer. It’s open-source software that allows you to remotely control your printer from a web interface.
Users really recommend using Octoprint and the Raspberry Pi as an option for the normal desktop computer or a laptop. It allows you to print directly via Wi-Fi, without the need to use a micro SD card.
Another user stated that using Octoprint and the Raspberry Pi is the best way to print remotely and have total control of your 3D printer without needing to be close to it.
Check out the video below for more information about using a Raspberry Pi and Octoprint.
5. Hire a 3D Printing Services
Another option to 3D print without a computer or laptop is to use a 3D printing service. These services allow you to upload your 3D model to their website and they will print it for you.
You don’t need a computer, laptop, or even a 3D printer to use these services, all you need is an internet connection and a smartphone.
Here are some of the best 3D printing services that you can use without the need for a computer or laptop:
Shapeways is a popular 3D printing service that allows you to upload your 3D models and have them printed in a variety of materials, including plastic, metal, and ceramic.
With a user-friendly interface, Shapeways also offers a variety of design tools and tutorials to help you create your 3D models.
One user recommends Shapeways as that was his go-to printing service before he bought himself a 3D printer.
Another user stated that he uses their service on an almost weekly basis. He also stated that their customer service is great and they will immediately re-print any defect without questions asked.
The only downside pointed out by users is their price, which is considered somewhat expensive.
Check out the video below for more details about Shapeways.
Sculpteo is another popular 3D printing service that allows you to upload your 3D models and have them printed in a variety of materials. The service provides a simple interface that makes ordering and uploading prints quick and simple.
One user stated that he prefers Sculpteo, especially after getting an unnecessary rejection from Shapeways. He thinks the service offers faster shipping and a better finish besides being able to lower the price when ordering in batches.
Check out the picture below which features a comparison of the same model printed by Shapeways and by Sculpteo.
i.materialise is another option of a 3D printing service that allows you to have 3D printed objects without the need of a computer or laptop.
They offer a wide range of printing materials, including resin, metals, and plastics. The service provides customers with a nice online platform to upload, check, and order their 3D prints.
One user suggests using i.materialise as they feature a bigger selection of materials although he still thinks this kind of service is too expensive when compared to home printing.
Check out the video below for more about i.materialise.
These should give you some ways to use a 3D printer without needing a computer or laptop.