Home > 3D Printers > What is Octoprint? Functionality, FAQs and More

What is Octoprint? Functionality, FAQs and More

There are a lot of things that you can use to make your 3D printing experience more enjoyable and easier. One of these things is to find software with a web based interface that simplifies the process of 3D printing.

Thankfully, there are many such interfaces that you can find. After you have familiarized yourself with 3D printing a bit, you can take a look at some of the fantastic supporting products that are available on the market.

OctoPrint is one of the high-quality supporting products that you can get to make 3D printing easier. More specifically, OctoPrint is a browser-based interface that is open-source and completely free that lets you control or monitor multiple 3D printers at once. You should also know that OctoPrint is easily configurable and quite powerful, as well.

The fact that it is quite configurable and considerably powerful comes from its system, which is plug-in-based.

This means that it is possible to add new functionality both quickly and easily. You can just access the drop-down software menu and do so.

What Can OctoPrint Actually Do?

Now that we’ve answered the question of what is OctoPrint, it’s time to go into what it can actually do for you. OctoPrint is capable of doing a variety of different things, based on your specific needs.

One example is the fact that a Prusa i3 Mk3 does not include WiFi as a standard feature. This is the case as long as you are discussing a standard version of the Prusa i3 Mk3. OctoPrint can help you resolve this potential issue.

All you have to do is plug your Prusa into your OctoPrint’s Raspberry Pi. The OctoPrint Raspberry Pi will function as an access point linking your 3D printer to WiFi. You don’t have to worry about taking your SD card out of your PC and bringing it over to your printer because of this.

You can simply drag the G-Code and drop it directly to your 3D printer. After that, you can start up your 3D printer and begin printing. The fact that this is possible means that the 3D printer doesn’t have to be that close to you at all.

You could put it in a different room inside your house. In fact, you could even put the 3D printer in a completely different building and still use it without any issues. One common concern that people raise is that they will not know if the 3D printer has failed if they are not in the same room as it.

However, this is not actually a serious issue since OctoPrint includes a feature to address exactly that. The feature that it includes for that purpose is a port for a Camera IO. This means that it can directly stream video to your device as long as it is connected to WiFi.

These ports even include plugins for failure detection that are AI-based. One of these plugins is called Spaghetti Anywhere. Spaghetti Anywhere is quite an intelligent plugin that utilizes both algorithms for image recognition and the Raspberry Pi’s webcam to discover any possible failures. You can adjust its settings so that it stops or pauses the print if it detects possible failures.

What Sort Of System Does OctoPrint Operate On?

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter PRO Kit - 4GB RAM

Typically speaking, OctoPrint is set up on some sort of Raspberry Pi 4 hardware. However, you can actually run OctoPrint on any system that can use Python. The system does have to be able to use Python 2.7-3.7 or higher, though.

OctoPrint supports FreeBSD, MacOS X, and Linux Windows, as well. Both the Linux and Windows systems have undergone active testing to see if they can support OctoPrint.

As you might know, the Raspberry Pi is a smaller piece of hardware. OctoPrint is made to run on this small hardware, typically for reliability and power consumption reasons. As previously stated, you can actually run it on your laptop or PC provided you have the right system on it.

What Should You Know About the Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a low-power, small-format microcomputer. It includes some standard features such as dual micro HDMI ports and dual USB ports. Additionally, the Raspberry Pi offers a few different memory capacity options, the lowest capacity being 2 GB and the highest capacity being 8 GB.

A USB-C socket is the power supply for the Raspberry Pi. A 64bit Quad Core Cortex A72 provides the Raspberry Pi with its computing power. The 64bit Cortex A72 is also an ARM v8. ARM is an acronym for Advanced RISC Machine.

Additionally, it is also worth mentioning that RISC is an acronym for Reduced Instruction Set Computing. Machines that use ARM-based architecture tend to be quite fast and also consume a low amount of power, too. Raspberry Pi Kits capable of running OctoPrint only cost between $60-68 and provide you with excellent value at an affordable price.

Do You Need A Particular Operating System for the Raspberry Pi?

As previously stated, you can actually run the Raspberry Pi on a number of different operating systems and it will work just fine. Some of these operating systems even come free of charge. One example of a free operating system is Ubuntu.

However, OctoPrint also gives you a disk image that is Linux-based and this disk image is known as Octopi.

Octopi includes quite a few of the most recent operating systems and plugins. You can download the Octopi disk image directly to your SD card if you have one, too. This method is both easy and quite effective. As a result, you can make sure your Raspberry Pi is up and running as fast as possible.

Which Raspberry Pi Should You Buy to Run OctoPrint?

OctoPrint can run on a number of different Raspberry Pi devices. If you purchase a Raspberry Pi 3 that includes a minimum of 2GB of memory, this is good enough to run OctoPrint. However, you might want to use a different Raspberry Pi with more memory than that.

If so, then the Raspberry Pi 4B with 4GB of memory is a good choice. It is not a good idea to use the Raspberry Pi Zero to run OctoPrint. OctoPrint themselves actually does not recommend using the Raspberry Pi Zero to run OctoPrint.

Doing so has led to issues. This is why you should not try to run OctoPrint with that device. OctoPrint does not support the Raspberry Pi Zero, as you might have guessed.

How Many Plugins Can You Get for OctoPrint?

As you know, OctoPrint is an open-source program and, as a result, there is a large community of people supporting plugin development and the development of OctoPrint itself. The amount of plugins you can get for OctoPrint continues to increase over time.

There are currently 304 plugins that are available for OctoPrint.

However, it is reasonable to expect that this number will keep growing. A total of 253 out of 304 plugins are compatible with Python 3. Additionally, you should know that only nine plugins are labeled as abandoned out of these 304 plugins.

What Are Some Plugins You Can Add to OctoPrint?

There are quite a few plugins that you can add to OctoPrint. One example of such a plugin is called Bed Level Visualizer. This probably sounds more complex than it really is.

Bed Level Visualizer provides you with a visual representation of exactly how level the printer bed in your 3D printer is. You get this in the form of a 3D graphic from this plugin. It is possible that you might find this information difficult to interpret.

However, Bed Level Visualizer is still a useful plugin, especially if you have a 3D printer that includes an autobed leveling feature. With this plugin, you can see the effectiveness of this feature quite clearly. Beyond that, you can even help make this feature better thanks to this plugin.

You Can Also Add A Firmware Updater Plugin

Updating the firmware on your Prusa can be a little nerve-wracking if you are doing it for the first time. However, updating the firmware is important to ensure that your Prusa will continue to function properly. In the past years, you had to go through a bit more of a struggle to update your Prusa’s firmware.

This often meant that you had to copy the new version of the firmware onto an SD card first. After that, you would likely have to transfer the firmware manually to your 3D printer. Thankfully, now you can flash the firmware’s new version directly from OctoPrint to your 3D printer. The new firmware includes an icon on your navigation bar to simplify everything for you even further.

You Can Add A Custom Controls Plugin

Many people have attempted to clean their 3D printer’s nozzle and tried to find out how to do so via the user manual.

However, you will not find the information you need to do this in that manual. You can use this plugin to clean this part of your 3D printer, though. This is because you can control any component of your 3D printer using this Custom Controls plugin.

Is OctoPrint Compatible With Every 3D Printer?

Another part of discussing the question of what is OctoPrint is talking about OctoPrint’s compatibility with 3D printers.

OctoPrint is compatible with quite a few of the more common 3D printers that you can find on the market. The majority of 3D printers from mainstream manufacturers are compatible with OctoPrint. However, it is still a good idea to do some research before you buy a 3D printer for use with OctoPrint.

You can find many resources for checking your 3D printer’s compatibility with OctoPrint.

You may want to take a look at this list for more information about Octoprint compatibility with certain 3D printers.

This list is fairly exhaustive, so it is a useful resource.

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Joshua Garcia, Founder

Hi, I'm Joshua. I created Maker Industry to share my passion for maker tools and help others learn about 3D printing, CNC systems, laser cutting and more. Learn More