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Archive for July, 2016

Battle In the Wireless 3D Printing Software Arena: OctoPrint Vs. AstroPrint

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

All 3D printers need host software to function. That’s a given. Host software sends the commands to a 3D printer that tells the printer how to build an object. Most host software communicates with the printer via a wired USB connection. For almost all 3D printers, a computer running the host software must stay tethered to the 3D printer at all times while it is running. Obviously, this is not always a great situation, hence the advantage of being wireless.

There are basically two ways to perform wireless 3D printing. First, a G-code file can be saved onto an SD card using a computer, then the SD card can be transferred to the 3D printer where the print job is initiated via a controller into a 3D printer.

This arrangement allows wireless 3D printing, but it lacks most the advantages of a truly wireless setup. The 3D printer can still be placed away from a work area, but beyond that, using the SD card transfer method is really no different than transferring data over a cable. The second way to do (truly) wireless 3D printing is by running the host software on a small embedded device, like the Raspberry Pi, that is connected to the 3D printer.

Which Is Better, OctoPrint or AstroPrint?

This is analogous to using a dedicated computer for 3D printing that stays connected to the printer at all times. But, instead of using a computer for this purpose, the host software can be run on something, such as a Raspberry Pi, which is just powerful enough to run the software.

The two most popular host software packages developed for wireless 3D printing are OctoPrint and AstroPrint. AstroPrint is, in fact, based on OctoPrint, and claims to have an optimized codebase for running on embedded computers. The AstroPrint team has made changes and additions to the software, making the two host software offerings quite a bit different in many ways.

While OctoPrint and AstroPrint do share some similarities, they are also different, primarily with regard to their intended users.

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With Acquisition, Is SoftBank ARMed For The Future?

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

A couple of days ago, the internet of things (IoT) world was rocked with the announcement that the UK’s semiconductor and software design giant, ARM, was being purchased by Japan’s SoftBank in a cash deal for some $32 billion.

Softbank_ARM_logo

In the official acquisition statement, SoftBank says it intends to:

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Geometric’s STL Workbench Released For Cloud-Based Onshape

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

With all the fanfare that took place a couple years ago with the launch of cloud-based Onshape, we thought we’d weigh in with partner Geometric’s announcement of its STL Workshop.

Onshape is by no means the first cloud-based/mobile CAD application. It was and still is, however, a unique true cloud-based technology and not a desktop/cloud hybrid.

Onshape began with what was one of the best and worst kept secrets in the engineering software arena. Worst, because even early on, it was evident that the technology would be cloud based, even if virtually no details were disclosed. Best, because virtually no details were disclosed, and that just added to the anticipation for the official launch of Onshape.

One of the inherent advantages that Onshape has always had is the fact that it was created from scratch by a team used to creating things from scratch with no legacy baggage to overcome and work around. Of course, the development team has not done everything themselves, because Onshape includes software components from Siemens PLM (Parasolid; ironically the same modeling kernel used by SolidWorks) and D-Cubed. This component licensing has let the Onshape team focus its efforts on what it does best.

Geometric_STL_Workbench Reduced

Geometric’s STL Workbench for Onshape

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Measuring Up: SPECapc Releases New NX 9 and 10 Benchmarks

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Like them or not, PC benchmarks let you evaluate performance, identify potential bottlenecks, and choose effective system upgrades of both hardware and software. Unfortunately, too many users still think that system performance is simply a matter of CPU frequency or memory capacity, which leads them to think that dropping in a faster CPU or more memory will automatically yield significant performance improvements. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case.

While CPU and memory upgrades can help in some instances, it often makes more sense to upgrade the storage subsystem or the graphics board if you’re looking for perceptible improvement in system responsiveness or performance. For example, if you run a series of benchmarks and identify the components holding your system back, you’ll be able to choose the most effective upgrade for your current system – or at least determine which components make the most sense in a new system suited to your particular needs.
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