Articles on: About SimplyPrint

How does SimplyPrint send prints / Gcode to the printer? USB / serial connection & how it works

In this article, we'll break down how SimplyPrint sends Gcode commands to your 3D printer, especially when paired with OctoPrint. Ever wondered how your design transitions from a file on your computer to an actual 3D print? It's all about the communication between the software and the printer, one line at a time!

Are you intrigued by the journey of a Gcode line or the importance of the USB/serial connection? Let's dive in!

Tip: For a detailed understanding of Gcode itself, please refer to our dedicated article: What is Gcode for 3D printing?.

The Magic of Line-by-Line Transmission

Unlike transferring a full document or an image to a printer, 3D printing doesn't move the entire file at once. Instead:

Sending Gcode Commands: The Gcode file is sent command by command to the printer. This is done over a USB or serial connection.

OctoPrint's Role: When using SimplyPrint, often times OctoPrint will be what's running underneath to ensure the print is being printed. OctoPrint serves as the "messenger" to the printer, receiving the full Gcode file from SimplyPrint, and then and sending each command to the printer via the USB/serial link.

The Printing Begins: The printer takes each Gcode command and acts on it. This way, bit by bit, your design comes to life!

Why Not Transfer the Whole File To The Printer?

Sending the whole Gcode file directly to the printer's SD card or USB might seem like a good idea. However:

- Time-Consuming: "Streaming" the file this way takes a very long time and isn't practical.

- Limited Printer Capabilities: Most printers can't store and handle large Gcode files all at once.

Printing Through Serial Connection: What's the Catch?

For most modern printers, receiving Gcode commands through a serial connection signals that a print is in progress. But not all printers see it this way:

- Older Models and Some Modern Ones: Some printers execute the Gcode commands but might not recognize they are in the middle of a printing process. This can lead to features like filament sensors not working as they should.

- Printer Screen Limitations: You might not see options like "Pause" or "Stop print" on the printer screen, even though it's printing. This is because, from the printer's perspective, it's just following commands without the full context of a print job.

In essence, when you're 3D printing via a serial connection, it's like feeding the printer its instructions little by little. This method ensures smooth communication, especially when the Gcode is sent line by line.

Updated on: 19/10/2023

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