Mainsail Vs. OctoPrint

Klipper Web Interface Comparison: Mainsail Vs. Fluidd Vs. OctoPrint

3D printing has revolutionized the manufacturing industry, enabling individuals and businesses to create complex and intricate designs with ease. To enhance the capabilities of 3D printers, various firmware and software solutions have been developed. Klipper firmware stands out among these solutions, offering advanced features and performance improvements. And to make it more accessible and user-friendly, several web interfaces have been developed for Klipper. In this article, we will compare three popular Klipper web interfaces: Mainsail, Fluidd, and OctoPrint.

Brief Overview of Klipper and Its Importance in 3D Printing

Klipper is an open-source firmware that replaces the standard firmware on 3D printers. It offloads the processing from the printer's mainboard to a single-board computer like a Raspberry Pi. This allows for faster and more efficient processing, making the printer capable of advanced features and higher print speeds. With Klipper firmware installed, users can experience improved performance, increased precision, and enhanced functionality.

 prusa-mainsail-interfaceFigure 1 reddit.com

 

Most 3D printers require some hardware upgrades in order to use Klipper firmware. However, there are a few newer printers, such as the Kingroon KP3S Pro V2 and Kingroon KLP1 3D Printers, that come with Klipper firmware pre-installed. This means that you can start using Klipper without the need for any additional modifications or upgrades. It can be a cost-saving option for those who are considering using Klipper firmware on their 3D printer, and it can also be a much easier way to get started for users who are less software/computer savvy.

 

kingroon-3d-printer

  Figure 2 source: all3dp.com

 

Overview of Web Interfaces for Klipper

Klipper firmware provides the foundation for 3D printer control, but it lacks a graphical user interface (GUI) for easy control and monitoring. This is where web interfaces come in. Web interfaces for Klipper act as a bridge between the firmware and the user, providing a user-friendly control panel accessible through a web browser. These interfaces allow users to interact with their 3D printer, manage print jobs, change settings, and monitor the printer's status remotely.

Understanding Klipper's Components 

To better understand how Klipper web interfaces work, let's explore the key components of a Klipper system. 

Klipper Firmware: The Heart of the System 

Klipper firmware is the core of the Klipper system. It runs on the microcontroller that is part of the 3D printer's mainboard. It handles the low-level operations of the printer, such as reading G-code commands, translating them into motor movements, and controlling the extruder and other components. Klipper firmware is highly configurable and can be tailored to specific printer models and requirements. If you are still debating whether or not to add Klipper to your 3D printer, check out our article about what Klipper is, and why you would want it.

Moonraker API: Bridging Firmware and Web Interfaces

The Moonraker API acts as a bridge between Klipper firmware and the web interfaces. It provides a set of commands and endpoints that web interfaces use to communicate with the firmware. The Moonraker API allows the web interfaces to send commands to the printer, retrieve printer status and information, and receive real-time updates during printing.

Web Server/Web Interface: The User's Control Panel 

The web server and interface are key parts of Klipper, giving you a dashboard you can access through your web browser. This is where you control your 3D printer. You can start and stop print jobs, check on your printer's status, adjust temperatures, handle your filament, and do a lot more from here. It's like a remote control panel for all your 3D printing needs.

Choosing Your Perfect Interface

Deciding on the right interface boils down to your personal printing preferences and the level of control you desire. Do you value simplicity and ease, or are you looking for advanced features and extensive customizability? Each interface offers something unique:

Choose Mainsail for a streamlined experience with frequent updates and great community support.

Opt for Fluidd if you're seeking a straightforward solution with a  user-friendly experience.

Go with OctoPrint if you're already using  OctoPrint with Marlin, you are using many Octoprint plugins that you can’t live without, or you are seeking a robust, well-tested, and proven interface option.

By the end of this article, you'll have a clearer understanding of each interface's strengths and specialties, empowering you to make the best choice for your specific 3D printing journey.

Comparing Klipper Web Interfaces

Now that we have an understanding of Klipper and its components, let's dive into the comparison of Mainsail, Fluidd, and OctoPrint web interfaces.

Fluidd: Lightweight and User-Friendly

Fluidd is all about being light and easy for Klipper users. It's got this nice, fluid feel with simple buttons and cool graphics. Here's a closer look at what Fluidd brings to your 3D printing setup. fluidd-klipper-web-interface

Figure 3 source: alex.doud.io

 

Setting Up Fluidd: Quick and Easy

Installing Fluidd on a Raspberry Pi is straightforward. Simply flash the FluiddPi OS onto your Raspberry Pi using tools like Balena Etcher or the Raspberry Pi Imager. The convenient part about FluiddPi is that it includes Klipper pre-installed, making the setup process more plug-and-play. Typically, the entire setup can be completed in under thirty minutes.

For detailed steps, you can check out the guide on the Fluidd website.

How Customizable is Fluidd?

Compared to Mainsail and OctoPrint, Fluidd doesn't offer the same level of customization, but it still provides some flexibility. Users can rearrange the dashboard and choose from various community-contributed themes. Fluidd also features a handy option for creating and hiding custom macro buttons to keep the interface organized. However, it lacks customization options for mobile devices, as it's not designed for smartphones, preventing users from repositioning tabs within the mobile interface. This limitation is important to consider, especially if mobile control is a significant part of your 3D printing setup. While the mobile interface isn’t customizable, it is sleek and fits well on a mobile device, unlike OctoPrint which requires additional plugins to achieve a mobile-friendly user interface. 

Easy to Use? Absolutely

Fluidd is super straightforward. For instance, you can just drag and drop your .gcode files right onto the dashboard. The whole layout is clean and simple, so even if you're just starting out on your Klipper journey, you won't have any trouble getting the hang of it.

Is the Fluidd Project Still Going Strong?

Yeah, Fluidd is still very much alive and kicking. It's active on GitHub, with a team that's regularly rolling out updates and bug fixes. There was a quiet spell around mid-2021 to early 2022, but since then, it's been full steam ahead with new updates coming out pretty much every month.

What's Extra Cool About Fluidd?

Fluidd for Multiple Printers and Webcams: Fluidd lets you manage multiple 3D printers and webcams all from a single Raspberry Pi. It's a handy feature if you're running several printers at once and don't want to set up a different Pi for each.

Slicer Uploads and Thumbnails: You can send your gcode files straight from slicers like PrusaSlicer and Cura to Klipper through Fluidd, and even see thumbnails of your models right in the interface. If you are using OrcaSlicer, you can even access the Fluidd interface directly from the slicers “Device” tab.

Sensor Stats: Fluidd shows you all the important stats of your Raspberry Pi, like temperature and CPU usage, in a neat graphical way.

Smart Console: The console in Fluidd is pretty clever – it has autocomplete and filters to help you find the right command fast.

Gcode Viewer: This lets you see your gcode files in 2D, and you can customize how it looks. Plus, there's this cool 'Exclude objects' feature for leaving out parts of a print if something goes wrong mid-job.

TIp: You can install Fluidd and Klipper as an upgrade to your printer, or you can buy a new printer with Klipper and the Fluidd web interface pre-installed like the Kingroon KP3S Pro V2 or KLP1.

Mainsail and Mainsail OS

Now let’s talk about Mainsail. Mainsail OS has been a popular choice for controlling 3D printers with Klipper since its debut in November 2020. It's known for working well with Moonraker and being easy to set up, making it a smooth operator with Klipper. Let's break down what makes Mainsail OS stand out. You may notice some similarities between Fluidd and Mainsail as Mainsail is a fork of the Fluidd software.

mainsail-web-interface-klipper

 

How Easy Is It to Set Up?

Setting up Mainsail is pretty straightforward. You can use tools like the Raspberry Pi Imager or Balena Etcher, or KIAUH, and it works with any 3D printer. Plus, you've got options to tweak the setup if you need something a bit different.

Can You Make It Your Own?

Mainsail lets you play around with its look and feel more than Fluidd, but not quite as much as OctoPrint. You can change how your dashboard looks and works, which is handy if you're switching between different devices. You can also tweak how the Toolhead section looks and even set up your own preferences for printing speeds and movements. The G-code viewer is pretty cool too – you can change its colors and it gives you a 3D peek at what you're about to print.

Is It Easy to Use?

Mainsail is user-friendly, even if you're new to this. It looks good and works well whether you're on your phone, tablet, or computer. The layout is clear, making things like adjusting your printer's bed level pretty straightforward.

How Often Do They Update It?

The team behind Mainsail keeps it fresh with regular updates. The original developer is still involved, and there's a bunch of people who contribute to making it better all the time.

What Extra Stuff Does It Do?

Print History: Mainsail keeps track of your print jobs, which is great if you're juggling multiple printers or simply want to keep track of how often you print, what you print, or how much material you are using.

Bed Leveling: It shows you how level your bed is with some neat graphics.

Remember Your Settings: Mainsail remembers your last settings for the printer's hot end and bed, so you can get back to them quickly.

Check Your G-code: The G-code viewer in Mainsail is pretty detailed. You can look at your models in 3D and play around with how it looks.

OctoPrint: The Trailblazer in Remote 3D Printing

Finally, OctoPrint. OctoPrint has been a major player in the remote 3D printing world since its first stable release in June 2015. With over 120 releases, it's not just an interface; it's a community-driven project that has shaped the way we think about managing 3D printers remotely. OctoPrint has been popular for use with Marlin 3D printer firmware for years, and now it is a viable choice for Klipper as well.

octoprint-user-innterface Figure 4 source: obico.com

 

How to Get OctoPrint Up and Running

Installing OctoPrint is straightforward. It works on a Raspberry Pi 3B or newer, using the OctoPi OS - a pre-configured Raspbian image with everything needed for OctoPrint. Just like Mainsail and Fluidd, setting it up is quick, usually taking about an hour if it is your first time.

Customizing OctoPrint

Out of the box, OctoPrint's default setup has a somewhat limited set of features. However, its strength lies in its plugin manager, which offers over 250 community built plugins offering a slew of features such as UI customization, fancy time-lapse creation, remote 3D printer control, AI failure detection and more. Thanks to the plugin manager, OctoPrint offers the most customizability among the three interface options.

Ease of Use

OctoPrint is user-friendly, but it does have a bit of a learning curve. Once you get the hang of it, though, it's straightforward. Its layout is well-organized, making navigation and access to information easy. Configuring OctoPrint for your printer is also manageable thanks to its dedicated setup wizard that walks users through the process.

Project Activity

OctoPrint stands out as one of the most active open-source 3D printing projects. It benefits from a strong community of developers and contributors, and its Python-based development makes it adaptable and evolving. Gina Häußge, the main developer, plays an active role in the community and continuously works on improving OctoPrint.

Noteworthy Features of OctoPrint

Octolapse: This unique feature creates stunning time-lapses, controlling your printer’s movements for the perfect shot.

Telegram Notifications: Get updates about your print jobs directly on Telegram, automating the monitoring process.

Print Time Genius: Provides accurate print time estimates, a step up from the native time predictions of OctoPrint.

Direct Downloads from Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory: Simplifies the process of finding and printing 3D models.

Additional Plugins: Like Themeify, Bed Visualizer, and TouchUI, these plugins enhance OctoPrint's functionality, making it more versatile than other interfaces.

Feature Comparison: Mainsail Vs. Fluidd Vs. OctoPrint 

In terms of features, Mainsail offers detailed print history and bed mesh visualization, providing valuable insights for troubleshooting and fine-tuning print settings. Fluidd stands out with its customizable dashboard and macro support, which allows users to create shortcuts for frequently used commands. OctoPrint shines with its extensive plugin library, providing functionalities like timelapse creation and integration with popular 3D printing platforms.

Performance and Reliability

All three interfaces have active development and community support, ensuring frequent updates and bug fixes. However, while Mainsail and Fluidd are very lightweight, OctoPrint is a “heavier” system, so you may run into issues if the device you are using to run Klipper doesn’t have enough processing power.

Community Support and Development

The availability of community support and the development activity around each interface is an important consideration. Mainsail, Fluidd, and OctoPrint all have active communities that provide support, answer questions, and contribute to the development of the interfaces. It's beneficial to choose an interface that has an active and helpful community, as it ensures a better user experience and access to ongoing improvements.

Compatibility with Other Software and Devices

Another factor to consider is the compatibility of the web interface with other software and devices. For example, OctoPrint has extensive plugin support including a built-in plugin manager, allowing users to add many extra features to their 3D printers such as 3D print statistics, mobile friendly, interfaces, timelapse support, and much more. Mainsail and Fluidd also provide integration options, although they may not have the same level of plugin support as OctoPrint.

Even without a formal plugin system,  many community members have stepped up to create plugins for Klipper, including exclude region, Octolapse-like time-lapse creation, a g-code viewer, Obico’s AI print failure detection & 3D printer remote access, and more. OctoPrint, Fluidd, and Mainsail can all be integrated directly into popular slicers such as PrusaSlicer, Cura, and OrcaSlicer enabling the ability to start prints directly from the slicer.

Updates and Maintenance

Regular updates and maintenance are crucial for the stability and security of any web interface. It's important to choose an interface that is actively maintained and receives updates to address bugs, introduce new features, and ensure compatibility with the latest versions of Klipper firmware. All three interfaces discussed in this article have active development and support, but it's worth noting that OctoPrint has been established for a longer time and has a larger user base, which often translates to more frequent updates and plugin development.

FAQs

Klipper, and its various web interfaces, are complex topics with multiple components so you may have questions. We have compiled some common questions below:

What is a Klipper web interface?

A Klipper web interface is a graphical user interface (GUI) that provides a web-based control panel for interacting with your 3D printer that uses Klipper firmware. The Klipper firmware handles the low-level operations of the printer, while the web interface acts as a bridge between the firmware and the user, allowing for remote control and monitoring.

Why use a Klipper web interface? 

A Klipper web interface provides a user-friendly control panel accessible through a web browser. It enables users to interact with their 3D printer, manage print jobs, change settings, and monitor the printer's status remotely. This makes it easier to control and monitor 3D printers, especially when the printer is located in a different room or even a different location.

What are the benefits of Klipper firmware?

Klipper firmware offloads the processing from the printer's mainboard to a single-board computer like a Raspberry Pi. This allows for faster and more efficient processing, making the printer capable of advanced features and higher print speeds. With Klipper firmware installed, users can experience improved performance, increased precision, and enhanced functionality. 

Can I switch between Klipper web interfaces?

Yes, you can switch between Klipper web interfaces depending on your preferences and requirements. You can even use different Klipper interfaces simultaneously with some specific configurations. However, it's important to ensure that the interface is compatible with your 3D printer and the Klipper firmware version you are using.

Can I use a Klipper web interface on a mobile device? 

Yes, most Klipper web interfaces are designed to work on various devices, including mobile phones and tablets. However, it's important to check the interface's responsiveness and compatibility with your device before using it on a mobile device. Some interfaces may require additional setup or configuration to work correctly on mobile devices.

Are Klipper web interfaces compatible with all 3D printers? 

Klipper web interfaces are generally compatible with a wide range of 3D printers that use Klipper firmware. However, it's always recommended to check the compatibility of the specific web interface with your printer model and firmware version. Some interfaces may have limitations or specific requirements, so it's important to do some research or consult the community for guidance.

Can I customize the appearance and settings of a Klipper web interface?

Yes, many Klipper web interfaces offer customization options to personalize the appearance and settings according to your preferences. You can often change the theme, layout, and even add custom features or macros to suit your workflow. However, the extent of customization may vary depending on the specific interface, so it's recommended to explore the available options and documentation for each interface.

Are Klipper web interfaces secure?

Klipper web interfaces strive to provide a secure environment for remote control and monitoring of your 3D printer. However, it's important to secure your network and take basic precautions such as using strong passwords and keeping your firmware and web interface updated to ensure the latest security patches are applied. Additionally, consider enabling features such as two-factor authentication when available for an extra layer of security.

Can I run multiple Klipper web interfaces simultaneously? 

Technically, it is possible to run multiple Klipper web interfaces simultaneously, but it may require additional configuration and setup. Running multiple interfaces concurrently may require assigning different ports or configuring virtual hosts on your web server. It's important to carefully read the documentation and follow the instructions provided by each interface's developers to avoid conflicts or performance issues.

Are Klipper web interfaces a replacement for a traditional LCD screen on a 3D printer?

Klipper web interfaces provide an alternative way to control and monitor your printer remotely, but the LCD screen still serves as a convenient interface directly on the printer. The web interfaces offer additional functionality and convenience, especially for remote management, but they are not intended to replace the physical controls on the printer. That being said, if you are installing Klipper on a 3D printer previously running Marlin firmware, your LCD screen may not work with Klipper without additional configurations.  

Conclusion

In conclusion, Mainsail, Fluidd, and OctoPrint are three popular web interfaces for Klipper firmware, each with its own set of features and advantages. Fluidd offers a simple and clean user experience with plenty of customization options. Mainsail, Fluidd’s sister project, is easy to install and benefits from very active development.  OctoPrint provides a versatile platform with an extensive plugin library, giving users the flexibility to extend the functionality of their 3D printers.

Choosing the right web interface ultimately depends on individual preferences and requirements. It's recommended to try out different interfaces and see which one fits your needs best. Each interface has its strengths and weaknesses, and what works for one user may not necessarily work for another. By considering factors such as features, performance, community support, compatibility, and updates, you can make an informed decision and enhance your Klipper-powered 3D printing experience.

Still a little confused about the process for setting up Klipper and choosing an interface? You can purchase a 3D printer with Klipper already pre-installed! Kingroon KP3S Pro V2 is now the most affordable Klipper printer on the market with the price recently lowered to only $229 USD. It is a cantilever style 3D printer that comes with Klipper and the Fluidd interface pre-installed capable of printing at speeds up to 350 mm/s. The Kingroon KLP1 is another printer that comes with Klipper pre-installed. The KLP1 is an affordable enclosed 3D printer capable of printing ABS, ASA, and other advanced materials. Starting at $329 USD, the KLP1 is the most affordable Klipper printer which is capable of printing advanced materials out of the box. Learn more about the KP3S Pro V2, KLP1 and other fast 3D printers in our article on the best fast 3D printers for 2024.  

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