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# Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

I would like to use the Ultimaker printer x/y arms to move the nozzle along a specified pattern (a circle, or linear) at a very slow speed, 1-10 mm per minute. Meanwhile, z position can be set to a specific height.

Do you know a software that can communicate with Ultimaker 2+, and controls x, y, and z parameters separately? And allow the nozzle to follow a linear pattern at a specified speed?

Many Thanks

John

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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

Anyone can offer some insights on how to control X&Y&Z independently?

I am hoping to convert our Ultimaker to a medical device, a tool to electrospin biomedical sensors.

John

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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

That's an interesting question.  These are some random thoughts.

The G1 and G0 lines within a Gcode file will tell the printer what point to go to in space.  That often looks like the axes are tied together somehow, but they aren't.  Consider these two lines...

G1 F500 X12 Y12 Z25

G1 X25

The first line tells the printer to move from where ever it is to the 12,12,25 point at 500mm/min.  Within the printer/planner the calculations are made to have all three motors arrive at the destination at the same time...a linear move from point A to point B.

Within the second line there is no mention of F, Y, or Z so there is no movement on the Y or Z axes and no change in the feed rate.  The head simply moves in the "X only" to 25,12,25 at the previous speed of 500mm/min.  So the X axis is independent of the Y and Z.  That independence is also true for the Y and Z (and E).

Your problem might end up being the feed rate of 1-10mm/min.  I don't know the Ultimaker printers.  Are their stepper motors and drivers capable of going that slow?  I just checked my Ender by sending G1 X100 F1 and the actual speed was 24mm/min.  That "minimum speed" is between 2.4 and 24 times faster than you want.  I'd need a heckuva gearbox to get it down to 1mm/min - and I'd need one on each axis.  There are finer steppers available, and there is micro-stepping but I'm thinking you'll still need a gear reduction unit to go that slow.

You can make a printer go in an approximate circle with a single line of Gcode using G2 or G3.  That places the calculations for the circle on the printer/planner whose "discrimination" is dependent on the firmware.  The circle is going to be a collection of short lines.  Referring again to my printer running Marlin firmware, the shortest line for a G2 / G3 circle is 1mm.  A circle of radius 1 would end up as a six sided polygon rather than a real circle.  Pushing plastic, that doesn't matter, but in your case it might.

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Posted (edited) · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

Hi Greg,

Thank you very much for the reply.

A higher feed rate, like 24 mm/min is very much acceptable for the moment. It is great to know that I can control the speed..

I know nothing about Gcode, and open-source software. What software I can use to communicate with the Ultimaker printer and write a Gcode file? Is Marlin firmware capable of doing what you mentioned?

To allow the X&Y move along a specified pattern, can I draw it, or do I have to write a code for it? If I want to do a line scan ||||||, I guess I can try to write a Gcode. But what if I want to follow a complicated profile, like doing laser cutting,  I would like to draw it..

Very much appreciated,

John

Edited by John2021
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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

Gcode is a simple machine movement language developed at MIT in the 1950's.  I started working with it in 1969 when I started on my ME degree.  It evolves slowly because there is a huge installed base of machines that use it.  When the printers came along it was modified to include their specific needs.  The Marlin gcodes are at Marlinfw.org and the RepRap gcodes are HERE.  That pretty much covers what you would need and just reading through the descriptions is enlightening.

Firmware features can be enabled or disabled.  One flavor of Marlin in one printer may accept G60, but it is not enabled in my printer so it doesn't work for me now, but it could if I re-compiled the firmware with the option enabled (if my little printer had the memory space which is doesn't).

Gcode is linear in that each line of code is a single command and the lines are read by the printer/planner one at a time.  In the case of movement commands like G0/G1, the printer/planner calculates how fast to send steps to each motor so they all arrive at the indicated place at the same time.  This makes hand coding some things relatively easy.  (Coding a path that describes a big "S" is not one of them.  Have you ever tried to hand code a spline?  I have.  It's a totally useless and time consuming skill.)   There are a couple of firmware types that have logic capability ("IF" statements are possible).  I don't know their names.

Mcodes generally make adjustments to the machine (M104 sets the hot end temperature on a 3d printer but might do something totally different on a CNC milling machine because the firmware interprets it differently) and Gcodes generally are for movement.

Open source usually means that anyone can contribute to the development of, or use the software.  It does not mean non-profit.

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Posted (edited) · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

Thank you very much @GregValiant!

I have learned a bit more about CURA software that is currently installed on my computer.

IT has one of the G-code flavors called "Ultimaker 2" in its machine setting, (Marlin, RepRap, Griffin are also options, but I suppose I should choose the type that matches my printer).

IT has a MONITOR tab to allow users to control the printer and send G-code.

So far, sending G0/G1 is all I have tried to do some basic linear movements, to move x, y, z to a particular position. The slowest step motor speed is 24 mm/min, or 0.4 mm/s (exactly same as you have tested ), which is O.K for me.

Now comes a question. CURA can save a G-code file, which I find useful. Is it possible to draw a shape and let CURA generate the G-code, then I can use the G-code to move the nozzle to the exact shape? Like the laser cutter, or CNC machine does. Is there a better software that can generate G-code from a shape?

Regards,

John

Edited by John2021
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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

There are benchtop router systems and CNC milling machines.  There are also laser etching attachments for 3D printers.  I'm not sure what they use for slicing/cutter paths.

Cura works with solids as represented in an STL or 3mf file.  Within a CAD program you could try to draw a hollow rectangle with a .4 wall (becomes the Cura Line Width) and extrude it .2mm (which would be the Cura Layer Height.  That might result in what you are thinking about.  But you'll have to play with the dimensions because sometimes Cura sems to give me a "what are you wasting my time for" response.  On the other hand for a simple square that has the left front corner at 0,0 and using "absolute" moves the code is

G1 F24 ;set the speed

G1 Z10 ;Move up to 10

G1X100

G1 Y100

G1 X0

G1 Y0

The same rectangle in "relative" moves would be

G1 F24 ;set the speed

G91 ;set relative positioning

G1 Z10 ;Move up 10 from wherever you are

G1X100

G1 Y100

G1 X-100

G1 Y-100

G91 ;set back to absolute positioning

If you are working with straight lines you could lay your path out on a piece of graph paper and hand scribble the Gcode.  Once you get into curves and circles you really want computer help.

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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

Hi there.

Maybe this is something that can help a little here..

See this "program" by Jack Minardi.

This software was developed by the Lewis Lab at Harvard University.

Thanks
Torgeir

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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

You could also have a look at the SVG Toolpath Reader plugin, available in the Marketplace.

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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

Wouldn't you be better off using a lasercutter or waterjet cutter as base to start from? These are designed to go very slow, so they should have all the basic hardware ready. And they can run 2D DXF-files generated by most CAD-programs, I think.

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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+
On 3/30/2021 at 2:26 PM, geert_2 said:

Wouldn't you be better off using a lasercutter or waterjet cutter as base to start from? These are designed to go very slow, so they should have all the basic hardware ready. And they can run 2D DXF-files generated by most CAD-programs, I think.

3D printer would allow me to control Z, the build-plate height, which is helpful in the electrospinning process.

By converting 3D printer into a laser-cutter, I would be able to achieve my goal.

Basically, my question is to find an appropriate laser-cutting program to work with Ultimaker 2+ printer..

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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

A Laser cutter, waterjet, or possibly CNC router software would seem to be the ticket.  There are people who have used Cura for laser work.  There have been questions here asking about what command to use to turn the laser on and off (instead of extruding).  Maybe you can find a forum those kind of folks hang around and ask the question there.  Somebody will know.

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Posted (edited) · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+
On 3/29/2021 at 5:58 PM, GregValiant said:

Cura works with solids as represented in an STL or 3mf file.  Within a CAD program you could try to draw a hollow rectangle with a .4 wall (becomes the Cura Line Width) and extrude it .2mm (which would be the Cura Layer Height.  That might result in what you are thinking about.  But you'll have to play with the dimensions because sometimes Cura sems to give me a "what are you wasting my time for" response.

Thanks @GregValiant for your insight.. I tried a CAD program, and get the outline of a shape.  Then let Cura generate a G-code. Then I copy the part of the codes to do just one layer..So far it is doing the trick..:D

Edited by John2021
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Posted (edited) · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+
34 minutes ago, GregValiant said:

A Laser cutter, waterjet, or possibly CNC router software would seem to be the ticket.  There are people who have used Cura for laser work.  There have been questions here asking about what command to use to turn the laser on and off (instead of extruding).  Maybe you can find a forum those kind of folks hang around and ask the question there.  Somebody will know.

Thanks @GregValiant, @Torgeir, @ahoeben for your suggestions.

I found a web page to do Ultimaker 1 & 2 Laser Upgrade Implementation

I found a youtube "Ultimaker 2 Laser Engraving" from @Labern. This is probably what I need.. What program does @Labern use to do laser engraving?

Edited by John2021
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Posted (edited) · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

EDIT:  You're quick.  That looks like something doable.  Wear a mask.

I figured it would be.  Much like hand coding in that regard.

I was a tool designer and one of the places I worked at had a build shop attached to it.  There was a big CNC cutting torch machine.  Programming a rectangle was easy, but if there were radii involved the center point, radius, and included angle, and start point all had to be programmed for each radius.  PITA and the operators hated when we passed along a detail that required radii (we're talking about cutting 3000 x 3000 x 150mm thick steel machine bases).  Sitting on the side unused was a laser "follower" that simply followed the lines on a drawing and the torch mimicked the moves.  So I started plotting the shapes with wide lines and at 1/2 or 1/4 scale and we'd stick them under the follower and the torch would hum merrily along.  I got free beer for about a month after that one.

Edited by GregValiant
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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

I used CURA and a post-processing scrypt that I made. I will have the scrypt somewhere but it will only work with a older version of cura.

I think the laser connects to one of the fan connections to give it PWM control so you can adjust the laser power via scrypt.

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Posted (edited) · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+
14 minutes ago, Labern said:

I used CURA and a plugin that I made. I will have the plugin somewhere but it will only work with a older version of cura.

I think the laser connects to one of the fan connections to give it PWM control so you can adjust the laser power via plugin.

Thanks @Labern! I found the video is very enlightening.

I don't know that CURA is capable of doing laser-engraving..I have the Ultimaker Cura 4.8.0 version installed, and don't know if it is compatible....

Do you have the link that you can share? Which version Cura you had it for? Many thanks.

Edited by John2021
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Posted (edited) · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+
48 minutes ago, GregValiant said:

I got free beer for about a month after that one.

😀  @GregValiant well deserved! That is a nice story!

Edited by John2021
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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

So I have found my post-processing script and found it works in Cura 4.8.

Problem is I used someone else script and changed it to suit my needs and their script has a Copyright so I don't really want to share it until I know what that means and what steps I would need to take before I can share it.

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Posted · Need a software to control x, y, z of Ultimaker 2+

@Labern - is there any chance that you can provide @John2021 with the name or contact information of the author of the script?

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