Open source 3D printer

Open source 3D printer software

Let's start from the beginning: 3d printing is makers kingdom, and it's often used in do-it-yourself, but obviously, before actually creating the object shape,  you have to start with a pc design software in order to create digital 3d objects. For 3d models you need three kind of software: 3d modeling/CAD software, slicing and Client software. You can find many, and open source 3d printers software are quite common.

software per stampanti 3d open source

CAD are software used to design and create digital 3d objects. There are different types, and each one works differently: the solid modeling software are most suitable for mechanical parts, including free ones like Google SketchUp, Autodesk 123D, TinkercadBlender; the sculptural modeling software are useful to achieve figures, faces, human parts, natural objects because they allow to sculpt the basic three-dimensional shapes, for example with the free software Sculptris virtual sculptures can be realized through the concept of clay modeling clay; finally, we have the parametric modeling software, which allow to combine different forms between them, defining in a very precise way each minimum variation due to the setting of the parameters (among open source we mention OpenSCAD and Grasshopper). Rhinoceros is one of the software we use more, it is not open source but there is a trial version, then you can buy it with student license at a very fair price.

The slicing/CAM programs convert 3d models in mechanical controls, thanks to which the 3d printer will be able to figure out what to do and how it must move through a specific code, called G-code. Slic3r is one of the most used CAM open source, flexible and frequently updated, created by Alessandro Ranellucci, a guru of Italian making; Cura, from Ultimaker, has streamlined interface and many utilities; Skeinforge is one of the first software created by RepRap community.

Client software is the printer control program: it is used to give instructions to the machine, start printing, lock, manage parameters such as temperature, and so on. The most well-known open source software are Repetier-Host (which also provides the possibility to run the 3d model slicing) and Printrun. But we must say that often the client software are not necessary as the majority of 3d printers can receive commands of the G-code files through SD-card and USB-pen.

Open source projects for 3D printers

There are many web sites where you can download templates for 3d printers ready for use, for free: Thingiverse is the largest website for sharing 3d printing objects projetcs created by users. It provides mainly hardware open source projects; you can choose to distribute your contributions under GNU or Creative Commons license. This does not mean that open source is completely free because there are some rules to follow when they are released.

Thingiverse projects may seem simple objects related to the world of DIY, but actually mechanisms that govern their creation and implementation have a very high technological value. Pioneer was the RepRap project with MakerBot, a company that produces an open source 3d printer for rapid prototyping called Cupcake (we bought and mounted it!), that incorporates RepRap project ideas. Other similar web sites-communities are YouMagine, initiated by a company, Ultimaker, which like MakerBot started with the production of open source 3d printers, GrabCAD, with a large quantity of freely downloadable 3d models created by a group of engineers, Instructables, a community where users share models DIY, among them 3D models, and even 3D Hacker3DVIAShaper.

Best open source 3D printer

One of the most appreciated open source 3d printers, part of RepRap project, is Prusa i3 MK2S. It is sold with a DIY kit to assemble or pre-assembled. The cost is around 700 euros. Designed by the Czech maker Josef Prusa, the Prusa i3 was presented to the RepRap community in 2012. The MK2S is its evolution, with a volume of 31% larger than the original, coming to 250x210x200 mm, a new print bed HeatBed MK42 and a print speed of 40% higher.

Among the various 3d printing DIY projects, we want to point out the printer projected by some Tuscan makers fa)(a 3D, a modular and fully editable printer with the particularity of levitation: the X and Y axes contain neodymium magnets realizing a real magnetic levitation that reduces friction to a minimum during printing, lightening the load on the engine and favoring the printer acceleration. We, from

Delta WASP Open
Delta WASP Open

downWasp, have realized the Delta WASP Open, and we have released drawings and instructions: if you want to try to build it you can download it here and do not forget to give us your feedback in order to update the source models and sharing them.

What is Arduino project

Arduino was born in 2005  at Interaction Design Institute of Ivrea. Arduino is a small electronic card, fits in the palm of a hand. More precisely, the website says, it is "an open source electronics platform based on hardware and software easy to use". It is a programmable hardware platform, a processor that reads an input and returns output, usable and editable by anyone, with which you can create many types of circuits, especially in the field of robotics and automation.

We could say that Arduino does whatever we want him to do: the automation of the lights in the home or small appliances to the creation of complex scientific projects, since it is compatible with all existing sensors. For these reasons it has had a worldwide spread in several areas, domestic, educational, professional and industrial: this is a real revolution.

We thank Arduino staff for the great contribution to open source digital revolution.

Cos’è il progetto Arduino

3d printing is one of Arduino applications area, when it comes to open source 3d printers or printer kit DIY. Materia 101 is Arduino 3d printer, developed together with Sharebot and designed to make the 3d printing accessible even to beginners, as well as, of course, open source.

3D printer filament

3D printer filament

3D printer filament

3D printer filament
3D printer filament

There are many different types of filament for 3D printers, and it's important to choose the right ones for your printer and for the object that you are trying to build. We are talking about one of the most common 3D printing technologies: FFF - Fused Filament Fabrication -, a 3d printing process that uses a continuous filament of a thermoplastic material. Filament types change for composition, fusion temperature and kind of polymer; some types of filament are easier to use, others meet specific characteristics for a professional use.

PLA is one of the most common types of filament: cheap and strong, neutral and bio-compatible, melt around 215-225 degrees, not difficult to use, but quite rigid. Also ABS is extremely popular in 3D printing: ABS filament is very durable, has a shiny surface and resists to quite high temperatures. On the other side, it generally emanates a bad smell during the printing process and needs a heated plate. The range of materials is wide, here we are focusing on some products divided and described mainly according to the purpose of use.

Treed Filaments and FiloAlfa
Treed Filaments and FiloAlfa

There is also to say that 3D printer filament industry is constantly developing: new filament testing proceeds rapidly and the market offers many advanced features. Here are some of the new filaments produced by TreeD Filaments chosen by Wasp and divided into categories of use: the company itself categorizes them according to the destination; it means that the user doesn't need to have a specific technical knowledge.

Technical 3D printer filament

3d Treed Filaments and FiloAlfa
3d Treed Filaments and FiloAlfa


"BS" doesn't stand for "bad smell", you can read in the product description. Indeed, a special formulation kills down all the bad smells typical of ABS filament. ABS WASP is a polymer known for its toughness, brilliance and tactile feeling, used in many areas, from domestic ones, such as appliance’s shells and gears, to industrial. Pay attention to rays of sunshine: they weaken and ruin ABS, so better avoid to use it for outdoors.

Carbon fiber filament

This filament is made in fiber, not powder: a fundamental feature that makes it perfect for high-end mechanical applications, thanks to its high tensile modulus. Carbonium is strong but light, for this reason it is widely used in extreme sports. It doesn't quickly absorb water molecules present in the air, so you don't need to dry it before use.


Stiff like an ABS without warping, thanks to its flexibility. G-PET is similar to bottles PET, without glycol adding. It has a good mechanical strength and high toughness. Shiny finish your objects, or get a translucent look with natural color. With a great chemical resistance, GPET is well indicated for bottles and containers.


ASA is the outdoor dedicated filament: no worries about sunlight anymore. ASA  is an ASA polymer (Acrylonitrile, Styrene, Acrylate), a material with an exceptional mechanical resistance with a matte finish that lets you play with post processing. Prints like an ABS: heated bed or enclosed chamber recommended.

Eco-friendly 3D printer filament

3d Treed Filaments and FiloAlfa
3d Treed Filaments and FiloAlfa


Here we are in the world of eco-friendly and easy-to-use filament. Kyotoflex is a very flexible polymer, with good elongation, and biodegradable. Easy to print, even on bowden extruders, it has a very low hygroscopy: no need to worry about humidity anymore.


Ecogenius is an ecological PLA, because it is petroleum-free. Obtained exclusively from plants, it is totally recyclable. It has a natural glossy finishing, so it will naturally shine out your objects, and it can withstand UV light, therefore it doesn’t change its color over time.


Shogun is extremely resistant, but at the same time is as easy to print as a standard PLA. No warping and no heated bed required.  Shogun is a truly biodegradable polymer, according to EN13432 rule. It can withstand high temperatures, up to 90°C without losing its shape.


This filament is made by a material very similar to ABS, frequently used for food packaging and disposable tableware. It has a good resistance to impacts an a deformation capacity that can exceed the 40% of its volume. HIPS completely dissolves if immersed in Limonene.

Another company produces filaments used by Wasp: FiloAlfa. It also offers many products, made with different polymers. Let's take a look at some of them.

FiloAlfa 3D PLA

This is a PLA filament, in Black colour (but you can find it also in white!). It has a good mechanical resistance and it is easy to print. Completely non-toxic and odourless up to high temperatures.

FiloAlfa FiloFlex

An incredible gummy filament derived from automotive industry. It is very flexible and, as a rubber, it perfectly absorbs impacts. Moreover, compared to other polymers it has a better UV rays resistance.

3D printing materials

ASA, ABS, PLA, Nylon, polycarbonate, composed materials

3D printing materials

Materiali per Stampa 3D

Which materials does a 3D printer use, and which ones should I choose? Approaching this world, this is one of the first questions coming on mind. Different 3d printing materials change with the kind of 3d printing technology. Once again we are focusing on FFF - Fused Filament Fabrication (or FDM - Fused Deposition Modeling), that means printing objects through the melting of 3d printer filament made by polymers, because this is the easiest technique. Filament, usually with a diameter between 3 and 1.75 mm, is heated by a resistance and, passing through a nozzle, it lays down layer after layer taking the shape of the object that we are printing. So let's go into the substance of the main materials used for this technology, analyzing differences and applications.


ABS and PLA are the most widespread 3D printing materials. They are two thermoplastic polymers: it means that they become flexible and manipulable at high temperatures and go back to solid cooling down (reversible process). The choice between these two materials is an eternal dilemma. There are hundreds of supporters fighting for each cause, but it doesn't mean that it's not possible to draw up precise features that distinguish the two polymers. The truth is that for a good choice you should just try both ABS and PLA, using them depending on what you want to do.

ABS filaments (Acrylonitrile, Styrene, Acrylate) can be used to create light and rigid objetcs, like, for example, Lego bricks, parts of car body, hydraulic tubes, musical instruments like flutes or clarinets. ABS derives from petroleum. It is soluble in acetone (so you can sand it with a brush, or weld different pieces with few drops of fluid).

Strengths: lightness, strength, durability, resistance to high temperatures (up to 100 degrees), easy to use and to reuse, good flexibility.

Weaknesses: bad smell and toxic fumes, need a heated plate, easily warping.

Discover more about 3D printing of PP in our Materials Guide.


Structurally similar to ABS, filament ASA (Acrylonitrile, Styrene, Acrylate) resists to UV rays and water: so, getting old, it doesn't get that typical yellowish colour (for this reason it is frequently used for outdoor furniture and objetcs).



PLA (polylactic acid) is made by a polymer derived from vegetable products processing, including corn. Naturally transparent, it can be painted, made matte or shiny. For this reason, PLA filaments are suitable for artistic and aesthetic uses, small domestic objetcs or for educational purpose in the schools. Its solvent is caustic soda.

Strenghts: ecological (vegetal origin, compostable in industrial structures), it can be extruded at lower temperatures (doesn't need heated plate), low warping, transparent look.

Weaknesses: less strong, more rigid, it begins to deteriorate at 60 degrees.

Discover more about 3D printing of PLA in our Materials Guide.


PET-G is part of the PET family (Polyethylene terephthalate), it’s a very common plastic for industrial use especially in the packaging business(bottles).
In 3D printing, PET-G filaments are very diffused for being quite easy to print with better mechanical properties than PLA.

Strenghts: good mechanical proprieties, discrete performances at high temperatures, relatively low-cost, also transparent.

Weaknesses: frequent defects on parts (stringing, small holes), limited mechanical performances.

Discover more about 3D printing of PET-G in our Materials Guide.

Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene (PP) is one of the most commonly used plastics for industrial production, with an outstanding range of different applications. It’s appreciated for the ability of working without breaking and for its resistance to chemicals.
The applications are many: containers, labels, tape but also a lot in the chemical and biomedical field.

Strenghts: tenacity of the parts, chemical resistance, smooth finishing, good for contacts with liquid, food, skin.

Weaknesses: extreme shrinking during the print, hard to manage complex shapes.

Discover more about 3D printing of PP in our Materials Guide.


The main benefit of Nylon is its resistance: it is much more stronger than previous polymers. Flexible and durable, it melts at high temperatures, often more than 250 degrees. Part of the synthetic polyamide family, it was originally used in textile production. Its main lack is the tendence to warping, like ABS (also with Nylon you need heated plate). Moreover, you must dry it very well before printing, because it easily absorbs water, even from the air: better dry it in the oven for few hours.


Thermoplastic elastomers are polymers that put together the characteristics of rubbers with the processability of thermoplastic polymers. Two common thermoplastic elastomers are TPU and TPE.
These materials can be easily pigmented and they are long-lasting thanks to their great elasticity and resistance to abrasion.
The applications are wide from objects of everyday use to specific products for the biomedical field.

Strenghts: elasticity, softness, many colors, long-lasting.

Weaknesses: some complexities during the print, relatively low speed.

Discover more about 3D printing of TPU-TPE in our Materials Guide.

Polycarbonate (PC)

Polycarbonate is very resistent to warmth. It is often used as electrically insulating, in medical application and in some mechanical parts of mobile phones. It easily warps, so you always need a heated plate. It is one of the most tough and resistant material. It melts above 260-270 degrees.

Strenghts: very resistant parts, translucid, good performance at high temperature, rigid parts.

Weaknesses: high processing temperatures, sensible to moisture (hygroscopic), relatively expansive.

Discover more about 3D printing of PC in our Materials Guide.

Composed materials

Composed materials for 3d printing are products made by the combination of two or more materials from different origins, of which at least one made by fibre. Assembling different materials allows to improve thermal and mechanical performance and also rigidity. One of the most common composed material is polyamide with glass fibre, that needs, however, 50% of fibre at least. Another composed material, that guarantees high performances with lower percentages, is the one made on carbon fibres.

Strenghts: very stiff parts, nice matt finishing, good permormance at high temperature, easy to print.

Weaknesses: extremely hygroscopic, the fibers inside make it abrasive (also for the nozzle).

Discover more about 3D printing of PA Carbon in our Materials Guide.