Want to build a printer... but what controller?


I’m new to the forums… I have used a printer a few times at work but I want to build one of my own. I have a MakerBox 2x from work with a busted control board. So I want to cannibalize this. I am leaning towards building a CoreXY type printer. But I’m not sure what to use for the controller. I see that many people use RAMPS but I was thinking of getting something a little more powerful - 32bit. I know there are Due-based boards (Smart RAMPS) and there’s Smoothie but I don’t know enough about which is better. I definitely want to use something with well-developed firmware and I’d like to use 24V as that’s what the Maker is so it would limit the number of parts I need to replace. I’d really appreciate it if someone could give me a recommendation or point me somewhere that has a compare/contrast of the controllers.



Hi Samuel,

If this is your first printer, I’d stick with arduino/RAMPS/Marlin. It seems to be the best documented combination, albeit one of the oldest. Most importantly, it means that there will be a large number of people to help you out if you run into trouble. It is also probably the cheapest solution, which is definitely important if a board blows (it happens).

Once you have your printer up and running and have sorted all the issues, you can always upgrade your controller. You will also have a better handle on what changes you want (quieter drivers, different display, different firmware, etc).


That’s not an easy question,

Marlin and Ramps is the best documented, but when you are handy with electronics, code and such you can pretty much use whatever you want. I mysef build a printer around and arduino due with a Radds expansionboard and repetier firmware (http://doku.radds.org/dokumentation/radds/). I’ts a good combination with the ability to put in the stepstick drivers you like.

I can vouch for the fact that tmc2130’s are really silent and with 256 microstepping with precise motors (400 steps per rotation) you will get rid of the printing moire completly…

But if you are on a budget, go with a ramps board…