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Pronterface: How to Download, Install, and Set It Up

Picture of Darko Izgarevic
by Darko Izgarevic
Feb 6, 2020
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Want more control of your printer? Follow along as we download and install Pronterface. You'll giving real-time commands in no time!

Pronterface: Download, Installation, and Setup

What Is Pronterface?

The Pronterface dashboard
The Pronterface dashboard (Source: RepRap Wiki)

Pronterface is a GUI host for 3D printing: It can manage your printer as well as prepare, slice, and print your STL files. As such, you can use its graphic environment to easily configure and control your 3D printer through a USB cable.

Running on Python source code, Pronterface has become very popular since it’s release thanks to the quick setup and easy-to-use interface. Despite looking simplistic, with the bare minimum in graphics and UI, it’s still very useful and holds a strong position in the 3D printing community.

While we already have a detailed tutorial on using Pronterface within our article on the Printrun Suite, in this article, we’re going to show you the steps for installation and first use.

Let’s begin by downloading the program.

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Pronterface: Download, Installation, and Setup

Download & Installation

The download section
The download section (Source: Printrun)

The best place to begin with Pronterface is the official Printrun website. Some people get confused by the Printrun headline, but don’t worry, Pronterface is simply a part of the Printrun Suite.

Scroll down through the home page to find several options for download. First, you must find the best option for you.

Windows

The index page
The index page (Source: Printrun)

If you’re running Windows on your machine, download Pronterface by clicking on the “Windows & OSX binaries” option. The link will take you to a separate page with a list of the latest releases. As of writing, the latest release for Windows is November 18th, 2017. This is the option “Printrun-win-18Nov2017.zip”.

Save the Zip archive to your desired location. All you need to do to install is extract the contents of the Zip folder to a new location.

After that, you’re ready to run the program!

Mac OS

To download the version Mac OS, click the same option, “Windows & OSX binaries”. The same page with the latest releases will appear. The latest release for Mac OS is also from November 18th, 2017. This is the  “Printrun-Mac-18Nov2017.zip” option.

A note for Mac OS users: If your computer tells you the file is corrupted, you don’t need to re-download it. Instead, you need to allow Mac OS to run unsigned apps. To do this, you need to open Terminal and run the following command:

sudo spctl --master-disable

Note that this is technically a security feature, so you should be careful about using this command, in general.

Users of Mac OS X Catalina may experience problems with the release from 2017. Refer to the related GitHub thread for more information on how to get it working for your setup.

Linux

The Pronterface repository on GitHub
The Pronterface repository on GitHub (Source: kliment via GitHub)

For Linux, you have two options depending on your distribution:

  • Ubuntu: The necessary files for the Ubuntu distribution are available from GitHub. (The link to the repository is also available from the download section of the Pronterface homepage.) The program must then be run from the source. Details can be found in the Read Me file on GitHub.
  • Fedora: For the Fedora distribution, click on the “master tarball” option. You’ll then need to download the file “Printrun-master.tar.gz”.

You can also install Printrun from official packages. Install the whole package using

sudo dnf install printrun

Alternatively, you can install only the apps you need by entering the command

sudo dnf install pronsole (or pronterface or plater)

Adding --enablerepo updates-testing to dnf might sometimes give you newer packages, but these may not be as stable.

Note that you should have Python (ideally Python 3.6) installed on Ubuntu in order to run Pronterface.

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Pronterface: Download, Installation, and Setup

Setup

The settings menu
The settings menu (Source: Darko Izgarevic via All3DP)

After successful installation, you should do the following in order to complete the setup process:

  1. Connect your printer with the computer and start Pronterface. You’ll see commands and parameters on the left side and free space on the right side of the screen.
  2. The next thing you need to do is to select the communication port from the first drop-down menu. Usually, Pronterface will automatically choose the port to which your printer is connected.
  3. Then, choose the baud rate (speed of transmission, typically 115200) and press “Connect”. Your printer should now be connected and ready to receive and execute commands. You should see some information come up in the blank area on the right.
  4. In Pronterface, there are no presets for different printer configurations. It’s a good idea to add these manually. This includes setting limits to your printer (dimensions of the bed), default temperatures for different filaments, and so on.

To set your printer up, click “Settings” from the menu bar, and then “Options”. A new window should appear, where you can configure Pronterface based on your preferences.

How to navigate the UI in Pronterface
How to navigate the UI in Pronterface (Source: Prusa Research)

The following features can now be accessed and used with your printer connected:

  • Load file: This button is used to load the desired model. The model must be a G-code file.
  • Port: The port with which the printer is connected to the computer.
  • Print: This button starts the printing process.
  • Disconnect: This button disconnects the printer from the computer.
  • Printer controls: These give you the ability to manipulate the printer axes.
  • Temperature settings: These include nozzle and bed temperatures.
  • Thermometer: This shows real-time temperatures.
  • Preview: Displays the 2D print process.
  • Info panel: This includes the estimated print time, axis positions, and other information.
Adding macros
Adding macros (Source: Darko Izgarevic via All3DP)

Many people have some G-code commands and macros they like to use often, and what’s useful here is that you can add them as buttons.

To add macros, click “Settings”, then “Macros”, then “<New>”. After adding a macro function, you can edit it by following the same path.

To add buttons, simply click on the plus icon “[+]” in the middle section. A new window will open where you can type the title of the button, what command it will execute, and choose a different color.

For ease of use, we recommend adding the following commands:

  • M112: an emergency stop
  • M106 S255: sets fans to 100% speed
  • M106 S0: sets fans to 0% speed (i.e. turns them off)
  • G1 E10: extrudes 10 mm of filament
  • G1 E-10: retracts 10 mm of filament

Many other buttons can be added for specific purposes, but these are probably the most useful overall.

And that’s it! You’re ready to load your file and start printing!

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License: The text of "Pronterface: How to Download, Install, and Set It Up" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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