As the Ilios line of products is being constantly updated and fine-tuned, the electronics side of our 3D printers also needs to keep up with the high accuracy standards which Ilios provides. Every hardware as well as software aspect of the electronics package for Ilios 3D printers has been designed to provide as much automation and reliability as possible, so that the printing experience as a whole is as User Friendly as it can be. Starting from the Power Supply of the system and finishing with the Touch Screen user interface, each aspect has been specifically designed to use reliable and quality parts, which will provide an assurance during long print times as well as short ones in most conditions and circumstances.
Unlike many manufacturers, the main criteria by which each part of the electronics system was designed is to provide a quality result, using best available parts and techniques and not try to keep the price to a minimum just to compete with the lowest bidder. Since all Ilios 3D printers are designed to accommodate the highest accuracy and reliability possible it is only reasonable to do the same for all aspects of the design.
It is the Ilios Electronics System as a whole, that which gives the Ilios 3D printer line its "Easy" sign of usage since it truly makes the entire experience simple and pleasant. The User Interface was designed to be intuitive and simple to understand. Each screen provides instructions if needed and will guide you though each step if you get lost.
Every Module, capacitor, processor and even the quality of the PCB can play a significant role in the overall functionality of the system and that is taken into account when designing the electronics for Ilios. Every cable and connector is carefully assembled and is housed within a braided sleeve so that the connections are protected and rigid, providing even more reliability and long lasting operation. In this description we shall go through each aspect of the Electronics system and will try to explain how and why everything was made as it is presented to the End User.
It all starts with the Power Supply. A reliable and powerful supply will ensure that your machine shall function properly during high load periods of the print, without worrying about its potential failure due to low price or poor manufacturing quality.
Most of the Power related components within the Ilios electronics use products from well known brands in their field. The Power Supply it self was chosen to consume less energy and operate within a high efficiency rating so none of the electricity goes to waste.
The Power Supply itself is housed within a custom enclosure which is well ventilated since the Power Supply does not need a Fan to cool it down, thus operating quietly during your prints. The enclosure accommodates the Power Switch, Fuse and naturally the connection to your electrical outlet, making it a safe a compact unit. The enclosure also supports mounting points for its brackets, which help the unit to be mounted in virtually any location on the Ilios 3D printer. By optimizing its assembly and making it easy to connect to the next Electronics module in line through its beefy and quite reliable power connectors which are also polarized, you simply cannot plug the unit incorrectly.
The beating heart of any Ilios 3D printer is its Control Unit. A module specifically designed to be used on all Ilios 3D printers. The Control Unit is what drives all the motors, pumps (if available), sensors and even provides connections for direct Relay control. All of the driving circuitry is already embedded into the design so all that is needed is to connect the appropriate signals through its Polarized headers. The Control Unit is what drives Ilios HD Kits, Ilios Photon and even the Ilios Ray 3D printers.
When designing the mechanical aspect of the unit, additional connections and signals were provided so that the 3D printer could be upgraded in the future, just like the rest of the machine. Through its modular design, the control Unit can be mounted at any location within Ilios 3D printers and is again provided with all the mounting brackets and connection cables based on the chosen configuration.
A Control Unit can power the Motors, Sensors, any additional pumps or actuators based on the chosen design and even provide the required power for the Ilios UI Unit, making the overall design compact and efficient. Signals for Logic operations and even the High Current drives of the motors are isolated from each-other, minimizing noise and increasing the reliability of the print.
The 3D printer can be controlled by the Computer through its USB connection directly or through the Ilios UI Unit. The Ilios 3D Suite can connect to the Control Unit and based on the chosen 3D printer configuration, print your model immediately after editing it. Additionally you can also save the prepared model and print it through the Ilios UI Unit if available.
To remove the need to an additional computer for the 3D printer and add unique features to the entire printing process, we designed a Self-Contained processing unit which we call the Ilios UI. The Ilios UI is powered by a fast ARM processor with enough memory and hardware to provide features such as a Touch Screen interface on a color display, give the Ilios 3D printer the ability to connect through WiFi as well as Ethernet to your network and much more. Connection to the Control Unit is made through one of the available USB ports on the UI Unit and it is plugged directly into the USB port on the Control Module, which also provides the necessary power for the UI Unit. This way we eliminate the need for additional power cables or non-standardized connections.
Since the UI Unit is using a custom Operating System, we provided the ability to read your 3D print files from most USB Memory devices such as a USB Memory Drive, USB SD Card Reader or even an external USB Hard Drive if needed. As long as the file format is among the commonly used ones like FAT, NTFS and others, Ilios UI can read it.
Besides the Color Display interface, the UI Unit can also be accessed remotely through your network. An HTML server hosts a Web Based User Interface which also provides additional settings and parameters for your 3D printer. You can access the Web Interface through your private network or forward the port through your Router and access the same interface from anywhere in the world as long as there is an Internet connection.
Through the available WiFi connection the Ilios UI Unit acts as a WiFi Hot Spot and can also share an internet connection just like any other Hot Spot if a connection is provided through Ethernet. Additionally an Android or iOS device can connect to the same Hot Spot and through the Ilios Apps for each system you can control the 3D printer once again as needed. The apps also provide notifications based on the status of the 3D printer and can be configured as needed.
Notifications are not the only thing which makes the WiFi connection useful. In addition to the Android and iOS apps, Ilios also provides Watch Faces for Android Wear and Tizen based Smart Watches. Through these Watch Faces you can monitor the progress of your print, check out all available notifications Ilios provides and even check out the On Board Camera stream if needed.
The UI Unit also can update its firmware directly from Ilios as soon as a new function or feature becomes available, so there is no need for Downloading, exporting or doing anything else to update your 3D printer besides pressing the Update button.