Getting Started with MatterControl

MatterControl Overview

For a while, one of the major gaps for 3D printing reaching the masses (or at least the education space), was the printer controller software. While other 3D printers were better than what MakerBot put out, the software was often lacking.  That all changed when we found MatterControl.  It seemed to come out of nowhere.  The company behind MatterControl, MatterHackers, sells a wide variety of 3D printing equipment and supplies, including filament, printers, tools, and more.  We had a good feeling the first time we used MatterControl that this was going to be the software that took 3D printing to the next level. The software is easy to use and can hide some of the advanced settings, but when you are ready, you just hit a button and the advanced settings are shown to you.

  • Printers Supported: Lots! See the full list here
  • Operating Systems Supported: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Link: http://www.mattercontrol.com/
  • Pros:
    • Easy to use
    • Includes 3 different slicers
    • Basic and advanced settings
    • Basic queuing for multiple prints
  • Cons:
    • Clearly written for Windows machines first and then ported to Mac (“ported” means they used tools to make it work on a Mac but it was not originally written for the Mac so it does not appear to be as stable on a mac)
    • Random crashes
    • The user interface can be a bit unclear (certain things are buttons but don’t look like buttons, or you don’t know to click on them)

Downloading

Download MatterControl from: http://mattercontrol.matterhackers.com/#jumpMatterControlDownloads

[box]Many education web filters block the Matter Hackers website because it is classified as a “shopping” website.  I guess they don’t want all the hottest seasonal fashion colors of filament distracting you or your youth while you are working.  You may need to get your site administrators to unblock it or download the software from home.[/box]


Installing on Windows

Prerequisites:

Steps:

  1. Launch the installer.
  2. Just go through the setup and use the default options.

Installing on Mac

Prerequisites:

  • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher
  • Admin user account

Steps:

  1. Launch the installer.
  2. Just go through the setup and use the default options.

Connecting Your Printer

  1. Unplug your printer from your computer.
  2. Launch MatterControl.
    1. On a Mac, it can sometimes take a few minutes to launch so be patient.  Also on a Mac, if you go to another window, you have to click on the Matter Control icon in your dock twice for it to show up.  I know it’s annoying but it’s still the best software out there right now.
  3. If the new printer dialog doesn’t show, click the “Add Printer” button.
  4.  Set a name for your printer and then choose your make and model.
  5. Click “Save & Continue”.
  6. MatterControl will tell you to disconnect your printer and then click the “Continue” button.
  7. Now plug in your printer and click the “Connect” button.
  8.  If all goes well, you should see that the printer was successfully connected and you can click the “Done” button.

Test Your Connection

  1. Test your connection to your printer by trying to control it with MatterControl.
  2. If you don’t see the “Advanced Controls” panel in MatterControl, you can click on the button highlighted below to show it, or you can maximize the MatterControl window and it should automatically show up.
  3. Controls View:
  4. To test your connection to your print, first make sure that the area around the moving parts of your printer is clear of obstructions.
  5. Then, I suggest homing the X and Y axis (but skip the Z axis for now) in the “Movement Controls” section:
  6. Your printer should move to the home position for the X axis and Y axis respectively.

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