As I sift through my many Facebook groups I see a lot of people ask a simple seeming question. What main board should I use for my 3D printer. Now at first glance it may seem simple. When you see all the options to choose from it seems quite difficult. So in this article I will be going over my choices for the best main boards for 3D printing. Note: “All boards spoken of today will be designed to run Marlin firmware” First off though youll see my PID Tuning video below.
MKS Base 1.5
The MKS Base 1.5 is the first board I would choose based off of simplicity. It has no advanced features and is designed to only complete simple tasks. It contains 5 stepper motor ports so it is capable of dual extrusion or dual Z stepper. A downside to this board is the drivers are non removable. If there are any problems the board must be replaced not the drivers. Next the board has 3 thermistor ports with 6 end stop ports. This allows all axis to have a min and max end stop and dual extrusion with heated bed.
This board also supports lcd screens in order to display simple print information. Another downside is that this board runs on 12v so it cannot support higher voltage motors.
Fully designed for 3D printing Super simple interface extremely cheap
Stepper drivers are non replaceable after burnout Runs on outdated 8 Bit system slow…
Another main board that I have a lot of experience with is the ramps 1.4. Technically this is a shield to the main board that is the Arduino Mega. A shield in Arduino is a smaller circuit board that connects to the board giving it special connectors or voltage transformation. In this case the Ramps 1.4 can be connected to the Arduino Mega to run a 3D printer.
This board is generally very similar to the MKS base 1.5. It can support the same number of stepper motors, extruders, hot ends, heated bed, and end stops. The only difference is that it is much faster due to it having the ATMEGA chip. This will increase the speed in which processes occur. It also has removable stepper drivers in case your stepper motor ever burns one out. In turn you don’t have to replace the whole board, just the driver. This can be very beneficial if you are new and experimenting since you are prone to making mistakes. A downside to this board is that the Arduino Mega is not specifically deigned for use with so may stepper drivers. In turn the voltage regulator can be burned out quite easily if stepper operations are not properly setup.
Super Simple use for beginners Drivers are removable in case of burnout Super cheap and replaceable Shield supports many features
Arduino not specifically designed for 3D printing Uses older 8 Bit system Without correct motor configuration voltage regulator can burnout quite easily
Duet Wifi 2
Next up we have the Duet Wifi. This will most likely blow any board away (at least until the revolve comes out). This printer features a built in Wifi chip that allows you to access your printer from any device on your network. It is almost like having your own built in octoprint that would normally require a raspberry pi.
This printer also contains TMC2660 drivers that are not just crazy quite but also allow 256th micro stepping. This means the stepper motors will be a lot more accurate in positioning. Did I mention this printer is also 32 bit unlike the other boards mentioned that are 8 bit. This means processes will occur much faster and there will be many fewer delays. This can also support full color tap screens for displaying your print settings. Another great feature it has is this can run on 24 V allowing much more powerful stepper motors to be added. This main board can support 2.4 Amp per stepper motor supplying in total 12 amps to all 5 of its stepper drivers.
Tmc2260 drivers allow ultra quite printing Runs online allowing it to be accessed from any device on your network 24 volt power allows it to run more powerful stepper motors 32 Bit processing allows speedy and quick processes Supports full color taps screen
Non replaceable stepper drivers
Azteeg X3 pro
Next up we have the Azteeg X3 pro. This board is an 8 bit board that is not used for processing power. The reason this board is special is due to the large amount of amperage that can pass through it allowing it to power up to 8 stepper driver ports. This also has 6 thermistor inputs as well as 3 power inputs. Now you may be wondering why does the board need 8 stepper outputs?
As of now many people are getting into full color extrusion. For example, just on the horizon the quad fusion print head by M3D will be released allowing full color printing for just $250. But to use this print head it requires 4 motors to mix and push all this filament. To drive that you are going to need a board that can handle all of that. Azteeg has delivered with this board and it is packed full of features designed for the future of 3D printing.
Supports up to 8 stepper motors Supports dual extrusion Has multiple power input connectors Allows high stepper driver amperage for larger stepper motors Drivers are removable in case of burnout
Runs on old 8 Bit chip Can be a semi fire hazard due to how much power goes through regulator
All Boards are deigned differently and for different purposes. Some are for advanced users while some are for beginners. You could also say that some have specific tasks like Wifi printing or multi color extrusions. The main way to decide on a main board is to see how you are applying it and move on from there. If you would like to see more content related tom 3d Printing why not visit Salvatore Lacorte on Youtube. In my videos I go in depth into 3D printing and the projects it can be applied towards. Have a great day and #MAKEMORE.