Several brands like Ultimaker and MakerBot manufacture 3D printers equipped with LAN or Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi compatibility. However, your 3D printer may not have such features. Thus, you have to use a compatible intermediary device, adapter, or tool to 3D print over Wi-Fi.
Here are 10 simple ways to 3D print over Wi-Fi:
- Use remote access software.
- Consider using the AstroBox Touch.
- Opt for the AstroBox Gateway.
- Try using the Raspberry Pi and AstroPrint.
- Use the Raspberry Pi and OctoPrint.
- Use the AstroPrint Plugin for OctoPi.
- Try using Microsoft IoT Core.
- Consider the Creality Wi-Fi Box.
- Use Wi-Fi Modules.
- Consider using the Silex USB Device Server.
Technically, you need a reliable way to connect your 3D printer to the internet network so that you can access it over Wi-Fi, irrespective of your real-time location. This article offers 10 options for you to choose the simplest or most convenient and affordable solution to 3D print over Wi-Fi.
1. Use Remote Access Software
Using a computer, laptop, or smartphone with a 3D printer through a USB cable can use remote access software to connect over Wi-Fi. Of course, the intermediary device must be on and connected to the internet. However, the device you use for remote access doesn’t have to be onsite or connected to the same network. Thus, you can 3D print from anywhere.
You may consider the Chrome Remote Desktop. Google’s solution works for all computers, laptops, and phones, irrespective of the operating system. You can use the network in your house and the Wi-Fi at any place you’re at a time to access the system connected to your 3D printer.
There’s no shortage of remote access software today. You can check out the likes of TeamViewer and FlexiHub. TeamViewer is a proprietary remote connectivity software, but it has a free version for non-commercial private use. You can always test such options to 3D print over Wi-Fi.
However, what if a 3D printer has only an SD card slot, or you don’t want to keep a computer, laptop, or phone hooked all the time to access the system over Wi-Fi? Remote access software can work only when two or more systems are powered and online. Thus, you need alternatives.
2. Consider Using the AstroBox Touch
Raspberry Pi enthusiasts have been using the single-board computer to make various devices over the years, from video doorbells with two-way audio to DIY adapters for 3D printers so that they can be connected via Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Now, you can get similar solutions off the shelf.
AstroBox Touch is a plug-and-play tool that instantly transforms your 3D printer into a network device. Made by AstroPrint, AstroBox Touch is among the simplest ways to 3D print over Wi-Fi. Also, the solution is a complete interface for you to manage everything on your 3D printer.
The only significant demerit of AstroBox Touch is its price. At ~$200, the turnkey solution with USB and Ethernet ports, built-in Wi-Fi, SD card slot, standard power cable, and touch screen may not be readily affordable for everyone. However, its convenient use is undisputed.
3D printing is a complex process, and several things can go wrong every time you try a unique model with complicated design elements. The last thing you need is unpredictable hiccups or failed prints due to an unreliable solution enabling you to 3D print over Wi-Fi.
AstroBox Touch offers wireless 3D printing, remote monitoring, fleet management, data and file sync for all connected devices, and compatibility with desktop, phone, and web. Also, you get a cloud-based library for designs, files, codes, compiled analytics, online slicer, and more.
3. Opt for the AstroBox Gateway
AstroBox Gateway is the predecessor of AstroPrint’s Touch version. However, the touchscreen isn’t the only missing feature. The two models have different software, the Gateway has no access to the app store, and the setup is through hotspot only, whereas Touch has the screen.
More importantly, AstroBox Gateway isn’t a plug-and-play solution. You need to assemble it, and the device isn’t exactly for those looking for a turnkey gadget. Still, the significant difference in price of almost $100 between AstroBox Gateway and AstroBox Touch warrants a mention.
AstroBox Gateway enables you to 3D print over Wi-Fi. You can use web or browser-based access to monitor your prints remotely. Also, you get auto software updates, video streaming, camera compatibility, and multifaceted access through a desktop, mobile app, and web portal.
A noteworthy fact is AstroPrint’s transparency regarding compatibility. The brand has a list of 3D printers classified as compatible per manufacturers, community, and AstroPrint. Check the list here — it also mentions the 3D printer brands and models that are ‘not verified’ as compatible.
4. Try Using the Raspberry Pi and AstroPrint
You can use AstroPrint’s platform and resources to 3D print over Wi-Fi without buying an AstroBox Touch or Gateway, but you need a Raspberry Pi. This option is affordable if you have a Raspberry Pi already. Otherwise, a ready-made AstroBox Touch or Gateway is more practical.
AstroBox Touch needs a Raspberry Pi 3 or 4 and won’t work with any earlier version. Refer to this stepwise guide to build your own AstroBox Touch. You can use this DIY tutorial to build an AstroBox Gateway using the now-discontinued Raspberry Pi 2 or any subsequent generation.
While these DIY solutions may be simple for tech-savvy users, the processes aren’t always straightforward for those unfamiliar with Raspberry Pi, PCIe, soldering touchscreens onto the single-board computer, and circuitry related issues, among other common prerequisites.
5. Use the Raspberry Pi and OctoPrint
Like the DIY AstroBox Touch or Gateway using Raspberry Pi, you may also use the latter with OctoPrint or OctoPi. However, you’ll need an internet-enabled Raspberry Pi kit, including a memory card, cables for power, USB, and HDMI, an appropriate case, and preferably a fan.
You may buy the Wi-Fi dongle and other supplies separately if you have a Raspberry Pi. Else, you can consider something like the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 Kit (available on Amazon.com). This 128 GB storage & 4GB memory edition has most of the essentials you need for the project.
The other integral component is OctoPrint, available as the OctoPi image that you can download and set up. First, you must build your device, and then get the Raspberry Pi Imager and choose the specific purpose OS OctoPi to make your 3D printer Wi-Fi or internet-enabled.
Watch this YouTube video to use Raspberry Pi and OctoPrint to 3D print over Wi-Fi:
6. Use the AstroPrint Plugin for OctoPi
OctoPi or OctoPrint may or may not be convenient for everyone. The fascinating resources and unmatched control of OctoPrint can overwhelm beginners. In contrast, AstroPrint may be pretty straightforward. Fortunately, you don’t have to make such hard choices with Raspberry Pi.
There’s an AstroPrint plugin compatible with OctoPrint, thus your DIY Raspberry and OctoPi. You can check out and download the plugin here. Also, you may want to explore the significant differences between AstroPrint and OctoPrint if you’re unsure about choosing either or both.
7. Try Using Microsoft IoT Core
Microsoft IoT Core is a simple way to convert your 3D printer into a network device. Imagine the old school 2D printers connected via LAN, except for the fact that the modern version enables you to 3D print over Wi-Fi and remotely using a system running Windows 8.1 through 10.
However, you’ll still need an intermediary board, but that isn’t a problem because Microsoft IoT Core has been compatible with Raspberry for more than five years now. Thus, you can use Raspberry Pi with Windows 10 IoT Core and its Network 3D Printer app through LAN and Wi-Fi. Also, you can use the 3D Builder app on Windows devices to sync with your Microsoft account.
This method works for Lulzbot, Makergear, Printrbot Play, Prusa i3 Mk2, CraftBot, Ultimaker 3D printers, and a few other brands & models. Also, check if your Windows version works with the Raspberry Pi you use. For example, you can’t use Windows 10 IoT Core on Raspberry Pi 4 yet.
8. Consider the Creality Wi-Fi Box
The Creality Wi-Fi Box is one of the most common recommendations you’ll find online, but it’s not a perfect solution. For starters, the Creality Wi-Fi Box (available on Amazon.com), sold by the Sovol 3D Store, is now the same package as the Creality Smart Kit (available on Amazon.com) of SainSmart. The Creality Wi-Fi Box is great because it’s lightweight and easy to carry.
Until recently, the Creality Smart Kit had a Wi-Fi Box and camera. Now, if you don’t want the camera, you have to consider the Entweg Original Creality Wi-Fi Box (available on Amazon.com). Apparently, the Entweg Wi-Fi Box doesn’t feature the Creality branding on the case. That apart, the box is easily one of the most affordable and simple ways to 3D print over Wi-Fi. However, there are concerns.
The Creality Wi-Fi Box is compatible with Android and iOS, so you can use your phone to feed a design, monitor the process. It also controls the print to an extent, but the interface won’t use the code you provide. The Creality Cloud app and slicer will process the file, and this takes time.
If you don’t intend to print your unique designs with customized codes, the Creality Wi-Fi Box should work fast and without glitches for most models in its library. Also, this box is compatible with every Creality 3D printer as long as you use a connected device running Android or iOS.
Some users have reported their disappointment about the camera’s resolution. However, if you want to have a visual feed for remote monitoring, the Wi-Fi box and camera kit may be worth considering. Besides, the cost isn’t even remotely close to what you may pay for a Raspberry Pi, an AstroBox Touch or Gateway, or other mainboards and essential components for a DIY rig.
9. Use Wi-Fi Modules
Raspberry Pi, OctoPrint, AstroBox Touch, or Gateway, all such devices require a Wi-Fi module. Likewise, Microsoft IoT Core also needs a connected Raspberry Pi to have onboard Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection for you to access the 3D printer using the internet and remotely.
However, not all Wi-Fi modules and adapters or sensors work as you may expect them to in real-world settings with actual 3D printers of different brands. Mainboards and Wi-Fi modules may not be simple for every user to work with, and the experiences can be starkly different.
Two relatively known 3D Wi-Fi modules are GeeeTech and BigTreeTech. GeeeTech’s 3D Wi-Fi Module works with the EasyPrint app. The entire setup is somewhat simple, and the interface has many features to access, initiate, control, and monitor a 3D print over Wi-Fi. Also, GeeeTech has a comprehensive manual to configure the module with your 3D printer and Wi-Fi.
Unfortunately, the 3D Wi-Fi Module’s theory isn’t exactly what users experience in practice. Besides, the module is unavailable online at the time of writing this guide. Still, you may want to watch the following YouTube video to check out how a GeeeTech 3D Wi-Fi Module could work, if it does:
The other option is the BigTreeTech Direct Wireless Module (available on Amazon.com). This Wi-Fi Sensor works with SKR Pro V1.1 and SKR Mini E3 mainboards or motherboards. Thus, if you want a Raspberry Pi alternative, you can use BigTreeTech’s SKR board and Wi-Fi Module.
This setup is essentially a substitute for Raspberry Pi with OctoPrint, AstroPrint, or Microsoft IoT Core. The Wi-Fi Module is reasonably priced, but it operates at 3.3 V, so it’s not compatible with any board that runs on 5 V, like Raspberry Pi. Also, BigTreeTech’s Wi-Fi sensor has a frequency range of 2.4 GHz – 2.5 GHz, not the 5 GHz that many Wi-Fi adapters are compatible with.
There are other incompatibility issues related to software and hardware. However, BigTreeTech has a bouquet of essential components that you may use if you wish to try such ways to 3D print over Wi-Fi. Here’s a YouTube video to give you an idea of how BigTreeTech components work:
10. Consider Using the Silex USB Device Server
The Silex DS-520AN USB Device Server (available on Amazon.com) is a relatively expensive way to 3D print over Wi-Fi. However, it’s as reliable and simple as the AstroBox, Microsoft IoT Core, and remote access software. As an added advantage, you can use Silex for various USB-enabled hardware.
This USB server supports 802.11n Wi-Fi and Ethernet. You can set it up with 3D printers, flash drives, scanners, cameras, and other hardware. Silex has its Virtual Link software for Windows 7 through 10 and Server 2019, including many previous generations.
Also, you can connect a 3D printer to a chosen network with the AutoConnect feature and access it through multiple Windows devices. Furthermore, Silex USB Device Server works with Citrix, Hyper-V, and VMware, among other virtualization programs.