The software and electronics for the Open Source 3D Metal printer are quite diverse. From driving powder pistons and wire feeds to programming. The software and electronics can be thought of as two main categories

Scanner/Gantry Electronics
Material Handling Electronic

The scanner electronics will need to take the data from a slicer program and convert it into x-y plotting. This information will control

the high speed galvo motors, directing the laser beam to sinter a cross section of the object being printed.

The powder system electronics on the other hand will control the Z-Axis, powder dispenser and powder roller.

We want to make full use of already existing open source software that is avalable so that we dont haveto re-invent the wheel.

To discuss the software and electronics please visit the Software and Electronics forum.


Goal Popular Solutions Status
Laser Scanner Module More Data Required  
Scanner Card More Data Required  
Scanner Controller Software Beamconstruct Pending Community Approval
Powder Handling Electronics Smoothie Board/Arduino Pending Community Choice
G-Code Slicer sli3er Pending Community Approval

Many of the specific software and electronics design choices will be dependant on the consolidation methods we use.

  • Define how we are going to interface with CAD software.
  • G-Code
  • Cost of parts
  • Smoothie board?
  • Gantry vs Laser scanner
  • Developing a Friendly User Interface
  • Developing and Interface Between the Laser Scanner Software and a Slicer Program
Gantry vs Laser Scanner

Laser scanners are the most efficient method for moving a small laser spot over a large surface area. A laser scanner primarily works by reflecting the incoming laser beam between two mirrors.

The combined angle of the mirrors determines the position of the laser beam on the work surface below. The mirrors are attached to special high speed motors called galvanometers. These move at very high speeds and are extremely precise in guiding the laser beam.

Gantries on the other hand are much simpler to construct and many design tips can be gained from the RepRap...

Software & Electronics Challenges

Challenge Status
xx xx


  • Developing and Interface Between the Laser Scanner Software and a Slicer Program
  • Controlling the Powder Valves, Powder Roller and Z-Axis timing
  • Developing a Friendly User Interface
  • Controlling the Powder Valves, Powder Roller and Z-Axis timing


To make things easier to manage we can break the software and electronics down into smaller subsystems

Laser Scanners

To direct the laser beam we need to use a laser scanner. ​A laser scanner is made from two mirrors that are connected to special high speed high​ precision motors called galvanometers.​​ Laser scanners are used in many things today, from ​engraving machines to laser projectors.​ The principle that is used for all these applications is the same: software that runs on a PC or an embedded system and that controls the complete process is connected with a scanner card. That card converts the received vector data to movement information which is sent to the scanhead. This scanhead is made up of two mirrors that are able to deflect the laser beam on the X and Y coordinates. The third axes is - if necessary - adjusted by a specific optic that is able to move the laser's focal point in the depth-direction.

There are many commercial laser engravers for metal that are currently on the market with laser powers​ of 50 watts and more.

Sourcing Low Cost Laser Scanners

Defining the Scan Speed

Mounting all of the Hardware

Laser Marking Software

Beam Construct, open source for private use.


Sourcing Parts and Equipment

If you have found a place to source parts and equipment please add it to the Software and Electonics parts and Equipment MEGA info Index here: viewtopic$%

This greatly helps toward our eventual bill of materials


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