A hand-held, touch screen device that comes preloaded with a suite of applications designed to make the operation of a 3D printer easy and efficient for both professionals and enthusiasts, the Activ8 combines open source software created by the 3D printing community with a custom operating system.
Calling it "an elegant and powerful new way of interacting with your 3D printer," the developers of the operating system say it has been specially designed to be compatible with any RepRap based 3D printer.
Justin Carpenter is the founder of Active 3D Printers LTD. He has twenty years of experience in engineering and has been actively involved in the worldwide RepRap community over the past five years. Working with Roman Frajt, Active 3D's chief programmer, the pair came up with their latest offering.
Frajt, who comes from a background in production of biofeedback machines, initially developed a passion for 3D printing after he realized the potential of the technology.
"Creating our own custom operating system has meant that we could tailor make the ideal experience for both casual and experienced users of 3D printers. For casual users we've made it easier than ever before to download your favorite designs from the internet or cloud and have them printing in minutes," says Carpenter.
According to Carpenter, if you spot an object on Thingiverse you want to print, you can download it directly to your Activ8 and hit the print button to output it on your printer.
And Carpenter says the device was built with more experienced users in mind as well. Using what the company calls a "custom Pronterface" (a combination of Slic3r with an .STL and .Gcode viewer) the device also includes applications such as Skeinforge, Cura and Meshlab, to give the most experienced 3D printing enthusiasts the highest level of control over their 3D printer.
Activ8 also comes preloaded with the aforementioned Active 3D Pronterface, Repetier-Server to handle communications chores with a variety of 3D printers and devices like the MakerBot Replicator, Thing-O-Matic, CupCake CNC, RepRap machines and generic CNC machines.
And it doesn't end there. The Activ8 also includes Octorprint for wireless printer operation, an integrated web browser for accessing and downloading 3D designs straight from the internet, a wireless keyboard alternative and a virtual keyboard on a 10-inch touchscreen.
Depending on your preference, the Active8 comes in two distinct versions, one with and one without a rechargeable battery. All the various model options include a 10.1 inch touch resistive screen, built in WiFi and a free stylus.
"Open source is a big part of our design philosophy," Carpenter says. "Our own device just wouldn't exist today if it hadn't been for the hard work of the 3D printing community. That's why our final OS and designs will be released for download, and we are very much looking forward to the new exciting directions members of the community will take it."
He says the Activ8 was originally designed to fit on to the front of one of the new printers his company is currently developing, but he and his team quickly realized that the Active8 could function as a standalone device.
The top of the line Activ8 is available for $675, and an Active8 plus Active-X1 Printer and basic Activ8 model can be purchased through the company's Kickstarter Campaign for $2100.