Launched today by Fiberpunk, Node is an affordable and robust way to add WiFi and accessories to Creality Ender 3 (V1, V2) and Prusa MK3S printers. It consists of an ESP-32 board with open source firmware, an OLED display and a unique SD bridge that makes printing faster and more reliable. At $29, it’s the most affordable option on the market.
Featuring a 3D printable enclosure, the Node board is very easy to install by simply plugging it into the USB port. It is a robust board based on ESP32 that starts instantly and does not need to stop like Pi. Thanks to its dual unique UART + SDIO connection to the printer, it allows faster data transfer and more reliable to the printer via SDIO. At the same time, control and information are still sent via UART. This makes it easy to transfer files and track the progress with an email notification alert. it is also expandable with a full set of I/O ports. A filament sensor add-on will be released with Node. Plus, it comes with fleet management software that can run locally without needing to connect to a cloud server, with open-source firmware to customize for potentially other types of equipment like CNC machines. .
Initially, Node will only be available on Creality Ender 3 and Prusa MK3S 3D printers. This is because the biggest challenge in making any type of electronics for 3D printers is the myriad of control boards, electronic controls, firmware versions. To create the best user experience and printer compatibility, Fiberpunk focused on the best-selling Creality Ender 3 V1 and V2 and Prusa MK3S line of printers. This does not mean that Node is only compatible with these three printers. They have also tested Neptune 2, Ender 5 and plan to expand compatibility with many more printers.
Made by Fiberpunk
Fiberpunk was founded in 2019 with the motto of making 3D printing smarter. Team members include Mark Peng, founder of People and Siraya Tech, and Noah Chen as CTO with over ten years of combined experience in 3D printer and material development. While FDM and resin 3D printers have made great strides, especially in the under $2,000 category, many printers still use outdated or inefficient electronics and often lack even essential wireless networking features. This led to the development of Node, which is easy to install, robust to use, and affordable. Fiberpunk also sees Node as a gateway for adding smarter functions to 3D printers, including machine vision for defect detection, closed-loop feedback control, and other peripherals.
“The idea here is to create a simple but robust way to link many existing filament extrusion printers to the network and have easy access ports for add-ons,” Mark Peng told 3dpbm. “It may look like something that already exists on the market, but the sad truth is that the solutions don’t print well, aren’t user-friendly, or get too expensive. Node prints very well (see data in the backgrounder), costs only $29.99, and opens up low-cost printers to more add-ons and functions. We designed Node as a gateway to many future add-ons and services.
There are two popular alternatives to add WiFi to Creality Ender 3 V1 and V2 printers. One is the Creality WiFi Cloud Box, which was launched by Creality in 2020 at a price of $20 to $30. It received a low 3.2 rating on Amazon and prices have steadily dropped. Another is Octoprint, which is a very popular open source project led by Gina Häußge. It is a program that runs on the Linux operating system and requires general-purpose CPU-based hardware to run. The most popular option for running Octoprint is Rasberry Pi (Pi4 is the latest version). The connection to the printer is via a USB port (Serial to USB connection). It is one of the best managed open source projects. The shortage has led to a spike in Pi prices (Pi4 costs $170 in March 2022). Even Pi Zero 2, with very low processing power, costs $70 these days. Another challenge for Pi is that the Gcode is sent over a line-by-line USB serial connection. The serial connection is slow and less stable and can cause printing problems. The speed issues have been reduced with the help of many developers in the Octoprint community, but the limitation of the serial UART connection is still there. We are in constant communication with Gina, and we are working on an Octoprint plugin for the integration of Node.
“We are good friends with the Octoprint team and have discussed the Node project with Gina at Octoprint many times,” said Ark Peng. “Peopoly is a sponsor of the Octoprint project. We will be integrating Node with the Octoprint ecosystem via plugins in the near future.