Melzi vs. Ramp Boards
Those who are just entering the world of 3D printing might not be familiar with these brands or the role of controller boards within the system.
Controller boards, also known as motherboards, are one of the most unique and diverse components of a 3D printer, compared to its more standardized pieces, such as its step promoters, nozzle threading, and belt sizes. The controller board’s primary function is to act as the brains of the operation and dictate the G-code of the printer.
Without a controller board, the G-code will essentially sit on your computer without affecting the 3-D printer. However, once you connect the G-code to the board, it will compute how the printer should move, when it should heat up, when the fans need to turn on, etc.
Controller boards consist of multiple components, such as processors, connectors, pins, sockets, terminals, thermistor ports, endstops, hotend ports, stepper plugs, and so many more.
All of these components are essential to the functionality of the controller board and its ability to communicate with the 3-D printer. The number and quality of these components also play a role in our comparison of the Melzi and Ramps boards later on.
Since the controller board is responsible for taking inputs of the G-code and provides outputs to the mechatronics, a quality board is essential for your printing, or the process will be short-live with a wide range of complications.
RepRap creates the Melzi controller board to be an all-in-one controller board that is cheap and easy to mass-produce. The goal was to make this product easily accessible for individuals with a range of experience in 3-D printing.
Not only do Melzi boards include all of the typical features of a controller board compatible with 3-D printing, but it also comes at a fraction of the cost of some more prominent controller boards, which makes it ideal for beginners.
However, as a result of RepRap’s focus on mass production of this product, it typically arrives with an array of flaws that new users would not be able to remedy themselves. If you are more tech-savvy and knowledgeable of controller board technology, you could potentially remedy these issues, but some changes come at a cost that outweighs the product.
Should You Buy It?
Unless you are an expert in 3-D printing and its components, it is not recommended that you purchase this product first. Because Melzi boards are cheaply and mass-produced, they typically come with an array of issues that will severely hinder your printing experience.
3-D printing already has several challenging steps, codes, and pieces of equipment, and you want to be sure they are all reliable to prevent any issues.
Suppose you are highly skilled with command boards and familiar with their electronic makeup. In that case, you could potentially benefit from a Melzi board by buying this cheap option and altering it to your specifications. However, this is not a tactic recommended for beginners as you need extensive knowledge of how command boards work before you can successfully alter them.
RepRap Arduino Mega Polulu Shield (RAMPS) boards function as the interface between the Arduino Mega, the system’s controller computer, and the mechatronics of a RepRap 3D printer.
Although this is not an all-inclusive board, like the Melzi, it is a highly dependable and reputable product of the RepRap brand that is commonly used in 3-D printing systems for all levels of experience.
Originally, this brand was used for home production, but it has since advanced to be better suited to commercial settings. Ramps products are also constantly evolving and improving to provide the highest quality products with the most efficient 3-D printing features.