3D printing by itself is pretty cool, but you know what’s even cooler? 3D printing wirelessly.
I think we all love some extra convenience, so why not add some when it comes to 3D printing? Some 3D printers come with wireless support built in, but the Ender 3 isn’t one of them, along with several other machines.
If you want to learn how to make your Ender 3 wireless and operate through Wi-Fi, you’ve come to the right place.
A combination of a Raspberry Pi and OctoPrint is the usual method to make an Ender 3 wireless. You can also use AstroBox for a more flexible Wi-Fi connection option since you can access your 3D printer from anywhere. A Wi-Fi SD card can only give you the ability to transfer files wirelessly.
There are upsides and downsides to each method, so keep reading to find out the steps to take and which choice is most common.
This article will detail how people get their Ender 3’s working wirelessly which makes their 3D printing journey that much better.
How to Upgrade Your Ender 3 Print Wirelessly – Add Wi-Fi
There are a few ways that Ender 3 users upgrade their machines to be able to print wirelessly. Some are really simple to do, while others take a little more of a walkthrough to get it right.
You also have differences in equipment and products to purchase to connect your Ender 3
- Wi-Fi SD card
- Raspberry Pi + OctoPrint
- Raspberry Pi + AstroBox
- Creality Wi-Fi Cloud Box
Wi-Fi SD Card
The first, but less used option is implementing a Wi-Fi SD card. All you need to do here is get yourself an adapter which inserts into your MicroSD slot into your Ender 3, then present a SD slot for the WiFi-SD card since they only come in the larger size.
You can get a pretty cheap one from Amazon, the LANMU Micro SD to SD Card Extension Cable Adapter is a great choice.
Once you’ve inserted the adapter and Wi-Fi SD card, you will be able to transfer your files wirelessly to your 3D printer, but there are limitations on this wireless strategy. You will still have to start off your prints manually and actually choose the print on your Ender 3.
It’s a fairly simple solution, but some people enjoy being able to send files straight to their 3D printer. This is also a much cheaper option than the other methods.
If you want more capabilities with your wireless 3D printing experience, I would choose the method below.
If you’ve never heard of a Raspberry Pi, welcome to a really cool gadget that has many technological possibilities. In basic terms, a Raspberry Pi is a mini computer that packs enough power to operate as its own device.
For 3D printing specifically, we can use this mini computer to expand our capabilities to 3D printer wirelessly, plus many other cool features along with that.
Now OctoPrint is a software that complements the Raspberry Pi enabling you to activate that Wi-Fi connection to connect to your 3D printer from anywhere. You can implement some basic commands and do even more with plugins.
There is a list of plugins on OctoPrint which give you many extra features, one example being the ‘Exclude Region’ plugin. This allows you to exclude a portion of your print area mid-print inside the G-Code tab.
This is perfect if you are printing multiple objects and one has a failure such as detatching from the bed or the support material fails, so you can exclude that part rather than stopping the print altogether.
Many people also connect cameras to their 3D printers using OctoPrint.
In this article, we take a look at how to set up OctoPrint for the Ender 3, a great candidate printer for remote operation.
The basic steps to follow are:
- Purchase a Raspberry Pi (with Wi-Fi embedded or add Wi-Fi dongle), Power Supply & SD Card
- Put OctoPi on your Raspberry Pi through an SD card
- Configure the Wi-Fi by going through your SD card
- Connect the Pi & SD card to your 3D printer using Putty & the IP address of the Pi
- Setup OctoPrint on your computer browser and you should be done
Here you will find a complete guided setup to connect your Ender 3 to the computer using OctoPrint. Below are the things that you will need.
- Ender 3 3D Printer
- Raspberry Pi (CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 B+ from Amazon) – includes power adapter,
- Power Adapter for Raspberry Pi
- Micro SD Card – 16GB should be enough
- Micro SD Card Reader (comes with Ender 3 already)
- Mini USB Cable for Ender 3 Printer
- Male Female USB Cable Adapter
The video below goes through the whole process which you can follow along with easily.
Connecting Pi to Wi-Fi
- Download the latest updated version of the OctoPi operating system (OctoPi image)
- Download & use Win32 Disk Imager to create the image on the SD card
- Plug in fresh SD card
- Once your OctoPi image is downloaded, ‘Extract All’ and ‘Write’ the image to the SD card
- Open the SD file Directory and look for the file titled “octopi-wpa-supplicant.txt”.
In this file, there will be code as:
#ssid=“type SSID here”
#psk=“type Password here”
- At first, remove the ‘#’ symbol from the code lines to make them uncommented.
- It will become like this:
ssid=“type SSID here”
psk=“type Password here”
- Then put your SSID and set a password in the quotes.
- After adding the password, insert another code line as scan_ssid=1, just below the password code line (psk=“ ”).
- Set up your country name correctly.
- Save all changes.
Connecting the Computer to Pi
- Now connect it with your printer using the USB cable and power it on using a power adapter
- Insert the SD card into the Pi
- Open the command prompt and check the IP address of your Pi
- Insert it in the Putty application on your computer
- Login to the Pi using “pi” as the username and “raspberry” as the password
- Now open a web browser and type the Pi’s IP address in the search bar
- The Setup Wizard will be opened
- Set up your printer profile
- Set Origin at “Lower Left”
- Set Width (X) at 220
- Set Depth (Y) at 220
- Set Height (Z) at 250
- Click Next and Finish
Fix Pi Camera and Device on the Ender 3
- Fix the Pi camera on the 3D printer
- Insert one end of the ribbon cable in the camera and the other one in the Raspberry Pi ribbon cable slot
- Now fix the Raspberry Pi device on Ender 3
- Make sure that the ribbon cable is not tangled or stuck in anything
- Connect Pi with the Ender 3 power supply using a USB cable
- Installation is done
I’d go for the LABISTS Raspberry Pi Camera Module 1080P 5MP from Amazon. It’s a good quality, yet cheap option to get a nice visual on your 3D prints.
You can 3D print yourself OctoPrint camera mounts by checking out the Howchoo collection on Thingiverse.
A more premium, yet simple option to print wirelessly from your Ender 3 is by using AstroBox. With this device, you can control your machine from any location when they are both connected to the internet.
There is a Raspberry Pi 3 AstroBox Kit which you can get directly from the AstroBox website and it includes the following:
- Raspberry Pi 3B+
- Wi-Fi dongle
- Pre-flashed 16 GB microSD Card with AstroBox Software
- Power Supply for the Pi 3
- Case for the Pi 3
The AstroBox simply plugs into your 3D printer and enables Wi-Fi along with a connection with the cloud. You can easily manage your 3D printer with your phone, tablet or any other device which has connection to a local network.
Along with a standard USB camera, you can also monitor your prints, real-time from anywhere.
- Remote monitoring of your prints
- Ability to slice designs on the cloud
- Wireless Management of your 3D Printer (No pesky cables!)
- No more SD cards to load STL files
- Simple, Clean, Intuitive Interface
- Mobile friendly and works on any web enabled device or using the AstroPrint Mobile App
- No need for a laptop/computer to be connected to your printer
- Automatic updates
The AstroBox also has another product which extends the capabilities to be able to have a touchscreen interface. The video below showcases how it looks and how it works.
It does have some capabilities that you don’t get with OctoPrint. One user described how his kids could fully control and Ender 3 using just a Chromebook. The touch interface is really good and modern, compared to many touchscreen UI out there.
The last option that you might want to use to make your Ender 3 wireless is the Creality Wi-Fi Cloud Box, which helps to remove the SD card and cables, allowing you to control your 3D printer remotely from anywhere.
This product is fairly new at time of writing, and really has the chance to transform many 3D printer users’ experience with FDM printing. One of the early testers of the Creality Wi-Fi Box described their experience in this post.
You can also get the Aibecy Creality Wi-Fi Box which is the same thing but just sold by another seller on Amazon.
3D printing directly from your machine will soon be a task that is out-of-date as we develop the technology to easily 3D print wirelessly, with little setup.
The benefits of the Creality Wi-Fi Box are as follows:
- Simplicity of printing – connecting your 3D printer via the Creality Cloud app – online slicing and printing
- A cheap solution for wireless 3D printing
- You’re getting a powerful performance and very stable archive of software and hardware
- Professional-looking aesthetic in a black matte shell, with a signal light in the middle & eight symmetrical cooling holes at the front
- Very small device, yet large enough for great performance
In the package, it comes with:
- Creality Wi-Fi Box
- 1 Micro USB Cable
- 1 Product Manual
- 12-Month Warranty
- Great Customer Service
OctoPrint Raspberry Pi 4B & 4K Webcam Installation
For the highest quality 3D printing experience using a Raspberry Pi, you can use the Raspberry Pi 4B along with a 4K webcam. This will allow you to make some amazing videos of your 3D prints that you can share to your friends and family.
The video below by Michael at Teaching Tech goes through the process.
You can get yourself the Canakit Raspberry Pi 4B Kit from Amazon which gives you everything you need to get started without having to worry about the smaller parts. It also includes a premium clear Raspberry Pi case with an in-built fan mount.
A really good 4K webcam on Amazon is the Logitech BRIO Ultra HD Webcam. The video quality is definitely in the top-tier range for desktop cameras, an item that can really transform your visual displaying capabilities.
- It has a premium glass lens, 4K image sensor, high dynamic range (HDR), along with autofocus
- Looks great in many lights, and has a ring light to automatically adjust and contrast to compensate for the environment
- 4K streaming and recording with optical and infrared sensors
- HD 5X zoom
- Ready for your favorite video meeting apps such as Zoom and Facebook
You can really record some awesome 3D prints with the Logitech BRIO, so if you want to modernize your camera system, I’d definitely get it.
AstroPrint Vs OctoPrint for Wireless 3D Printing
AstroPrint is actually based on an earlier version of OctoPrint, being combined with new phone/tablet apps, along with a slicer that operates through a Cloud network. AstroPrint is a lot easier to setup compared to OctoPrint, but they do both run off a Raspberry Pi.
Practically speaking, AstroPrint is a software that carries fewer functions than OctoPrint, but has more emphasis on user-friendliness. You would want to go with AstroPrint if you just want basic wireless 3D printing capabilities without the extras.
If you think you’ll want to add more advanced features to your 3D printing, you probably should go for OctoPrint.
They have a larger community of contributors who are always developing new plugins and functions. It was built to thrive on customizations and unique features.
Duet 2 Wi-Fi
Duet 2 WiFi is an advanced and fully functional electronic controller specially used for 3D printers and CNC (Computer Numerical Control) devices.
It is the same as its old version Duet 2 Ethernet but the upgraded version is 32-bit and offers Wi-Fi connectivity to work wirelessly.
Pronterface is a host software that is used to control your 3D printer functionalities. It is built from the open-source software suite Printrun which is licensed under GNU.
It provides the user with a GUI (Graphical User Interface) access. Because of its GUI, the user can easily configure the printer and can print the STL files just connecting it with a USB cable.
Does the Ender 3 Pro Come With Wi-Fi?
Unfortunately, the Ender 3 Pro doesn’t come with Wi-Fi, but we can enable a wireless connection by either using a Wi-Fi SD card, a Raspberry Pi & OctoPrint software combination, a Raspberry Pi & AstroBox combination, or by using the Creality Wi-Fi Cloud Box.
In order to keep prices down and let people make their own choices for upgrades, the Ender 3 Pro has kept functionality and extra features to a minimum, mainly focusing on the what you need to get some of the best printing quality right out the box.
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