Vandal Forge Printer Software

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Team Name Vulcan
Duration Fall 2017 - Spring 2018
Sponsor Dr. Michael Maughan
Faculty Advisers
  • Matthew Buchanan
  • Andre Corpus
  • Jonathan Buch
  • Tim Clemans
  • Michael Madsen
  • James Young

The goal of this project is to improve the software used for 3D Metal Printing by updating the graphical user interface (GUI), changing the software to produce custom print commands required by the metal printer, and creating documentation for future teams.

Problem Definition[edit]


Current printing software is not customized for a 3D metal printer. Print instructions created by default slicer software contains extra unused commands and does not provide custom commands needed to run a 3D Metal printer. Last year's team had to manually modify the output of Plastic Printing software, which was a slow and laborious process. OctoPrint, the interface between the print instructions and the printer, was originally designed for plastic printers and does not have the necessary features for metal printing. The Mark I and Mark II 3D Metal Printers require a custom print instructions file.

Vulcan 3dprinter1.JPG

Mark I Printer (MIG Welder)

Vulcan 2018 process 5.png

Mark II Printer (TIG Welder)

Printing Process[edit]

Vulcan 2018 3dProcessArrow.PNG
Vulcan 2018 process 1.PNG

Export 3D Model created in a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program as a .STL file

Vulcan 2018 process 2.gif

Import STL file into Slicer program that "slices" model into many thin layers (click this Lego image to see the animated gif)

Vulcan 2018 Gcodeafter.png

Slicer program exports a series print path instructions for the printer in the form of GCodes

Vulcan 2018 octoprint updated.png

Upload GCode file to OctoPrint which sends the print instructions one by one to the Printer

Vulcan 2018 process 5.png

3D Metal Printer prints metal object by following the GCode instructions

Vulcan 2018 Whatslicerdoes.png



To improve the quality of the VandalForge Software while extending usability to allow further customization for future project endeavors.

  • Slic3r produces custom GCode commands
  • Octoprint accepts custom commands
  • GUI's utilize custom commands
  • ForgeWare Integration
  • Easy to use
  • Create excellent documentation for future teams


  • Use Open Source software
  • Modifications must work for both versions of the printer
  • Modified software should be user friendly
  • Carefully document process so future teams can easily add improvements




Vulcan 2018 Ultimaker.png

Cura Ultimaker Slic3r Alternative


  • Written in Python
  • Well documented and developed


  • Direction of development controlled by Ultimaker company
  • No guarantees that Ultimaker's continued development of Cura would be useful to the project
Vulcan 2018 Smoothiewareclient.PNG

Smoothieware Webclient OctoPrint Alternative


  • Already exists in the Smoothieboard
  • Simple setup (a single html file)


  • Does not work with other board types
  • Limited feature set


Customized Slicer Program

Slic3r software customized to produce 3D metal printer instructions. Slic3r takes a 3D model, "slices" it into print layers and creates printing instructions for the Printer.

Updated UI

Added new inputs for the TIG Welder printer to the Slic3r GUI.

Vulcan 2018 Slicer updated.png
GCode Before

GCode before removing unused Plastic Printer Instructions.

Vulcan 2018 Gcodebefore.png
GCode After

GCode after removing the superfluous print commands.

Vulcan 2018 Gcodeafter.png
Original OctoPrint UI

OctoPrint software was originally for plastic printing. Octoprint is the interface between the Printer and the printing instructions created by Slic3r.

Updated OctoPrint UI

We removed unnecessary UI elements, simplified the layout, changed the theme to University of Idaho colors, and added some controls.

File:Vulcan 2018 octoprint updated.png
TIG Welder Controls

The TIG 3D metal printer has new controls that needed to be added to both the Slic3r and OctoPrint GUI's.

Vulcan 2018 tig knobs.jpg
OctoPrint TIG Welder Controls

We added the TIG Welder commands as buttons in OctoPrint

Vuclan 2018 tigweldcmds-UI.PNG


Fall 2017

  • Gather Specifications and Research Software
  • Research OctoPrint Host Software
  • Customize GCode File output via Slic3r Software
  • Design Review

Spring 2018

  • Make Modifications to OctoPrint Software
  • Custom GCode commands
  • Add Mark II commands to OctoPrint UI
  • Integrate with the Mark I Metal Printer
  • Add Features specific for the Mark II Metal Printer
  • Documentation

See Schedule Gantt Chart in Documents Archive section

Future Plans[edit]


  • New Print-Path Algorithm
  • Automatically change print parameters based on current print progress


  • GCodeViewer 2D output of print
  • Web Camera to watch prints
  • Create 3D wire-frame model of print with temperature/heat map from infrared camera

Team Information[edit]

Photo Members
Spring 2018
Pictured from left to right:
  • Tim Clemans,
  • Jonathan Buch,
  • Michael Madsen,
  • James Young,

Photo Member Bio
Vulcan 2018 jonathan profilepic.jpg
Jonathan Buch

Major: BS Computer Science
Graduation Date: May 2018
Bio: While I am currently focused on cybersecurity work, I particularly enjoy software testing and evaluation. My interests include small electric powered vehicles, rhythm games, and working with new technologies.

Vulcan 2018 tim Profilepic.jpg
Tim Clemans

Major: BS Computer Science
Graduation Date: May 2018
Bio: I enjoy blues rock, fruit salad, and hiking near majestic mountain streams. I'm interested in information security, software engineering, and web development.

Vulcan 2018 michael profilepic.png
Michael Madsen

Major: BS Computer Science
Graduation Date: May 2018
Bio: I focus on protecting our digital identity by promoting proper Cyber Security and Information assurance practices. I believe our God given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness requires qualified individuals standing against those taking advantage of the vulnerable. I enjoy Firefly, board games, Marvel Comics, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Vulcan 2018 james profilepic.PNG
James Young

Major: BS Computer Science
Graduation Date: May 2018
Bio: International traveler by day, computer programmer by night. Special interests include A.I., media editing, and Japanese.

Document Archive[edit]



Expo Poster

Project Documents