When it comes to 3D printing, choosing the right firmware can make all the difference in the quality and reliability of your prints.
In this article, I will be taking you on a deep dive into two popular firmware options: Klipper and Marlin.
I will compare their features, performance, and user experience to help you decide which one is right for your 3D printer.
But before I begin, let’s ensure we’re all on the same page: do you know what firmware is?
Firmware is the brains behind your 3D printer, controlling every move and decision it makes. In the world of 3D printing, firmware is responsible for executing the instructions provided by your slicing software and for managing the movements, temperature, and other aspects of the printing process.
Simply put, it is the engine that drives your 3D printer and makes it work.
Overview of Klipper
Let’s dive into Klipper, a 3D printer firmware written in Python and released under the GNU – General Public License.
It offers users advanced calibration options, custom G-code macros, and the ability to run multiple printers from a single controller.
Klipper is an open-source firmware for 3D printers that was first released in 2016.
It was created by GitHub user Kevin O’Connor, who was fed up with the complex and difficult-to-configure firmware that was commonly used in 3D printers at the time.
Kevin wanted to create firmware that was easy to use and highly customizable, allowing users to fine-tune their 3D printer’s performance to their exact specifications.
And so, Klipper was born. Since its release, it has become popular among 3D printing enthusiasts and professionals, thanks to its user-friendly interface and powerful customization options.
Klipper is a 3D printing firmware that aims to improve the efficiency, consistency, and customization of the printing process.
One of its main features is the use of G-code macros, which allow users to execute complex or repetitive tasks using fewer commands than traditional firmware. This can save time and make the printing process more user-friendly.
Another key feature of Klipper is its ability to adjust the layer height of a print. This allows users to print different parts of a model at different resolutions or thicknesses, providing greater control over the final print.
Klipper also offers professional-grade bed leveling routines that provide better accuracy and print quality than conventional firmware.
In addition, Klipper allows users to adjust printer settings such as acceleration, jerk, and z-axis height. This ensures that each print job produces optimal results and provides a better overall experience for users.
And standard firmware features like PID tune are included in the package.
Overall, Klipper’s advanced features make 3D printing more efficient, customizable, and enjoyable for users.
Klipper has been in constant development since 2016.
It was initially released as version 0.2.0 and has since seen several major releases, with the latest being version 0.11.0, released in November 2022.
The last release includes major changes such as Trinamic stepper motor driver “step on both edges” optimization, support for Python3, enhanced CAN bus support, improved error handling for temperature sensors, LED template support, micro-controller improvements, and many additional modules.
The Klipper team follows a regular release pattern, releasing a new version every few months with bug fixes, new features, and improvements to existing features and improvements to the existing codebase.
Each release adds more functionality and stability to the firmware, making it one of the most popular 3D printer firmware available today.
Klipper and 3D Printing
Klipper has revolutionized the way 3D printing is done.
It offers faster stepping rates, easy setup and configuration, support for multiple MCUs, pressure advance feature for better print quality, input shaping for faster print speeds, easy python programming for additional features, supports PT100 probes and all common bed probes, able to run on the cheap Raspberry Pi Zero and controller boards support.
Klipper makes 3D printing easier and more efficient than ever before.
Overview of Marlin
Marlin is a popular firmware for 3D printers known for its reliability, stability, and powerful features.
But where did it come from, and how has it evolved over the years?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history and primary features of Marlin, as well as its role 3D printing community.
Marlin firmware for 3D printers has been around for over a decade.
It was first released in 2011 by Erik Zalm as an open-source alternative to existing commercial solutions.
Now, a team of developers led by Scott Lahteine maintains this project, and it has since become a popular choice among 3D printing enthusiasts and professionals alike.
Over the years, Marlin has evolved and improved, adding new features and support for a wider range of 3D printers. Today, it is known for its reliability, stability, and powerful features, making it a go-to choice for many 3D printer users.
Marlin firmware includes Automatic Bed Leveling, Autostart, EEPROM, PID autotune, Firmware Retract, LCD Menu Tree, Linear Advance, Model Predictive Temperature Control, Probe Temperature Compensation, Trinamic drivers, and Unified Bed Leveling.
These features allow users to easily calibrate their 3D printer for optimal performance and accuracy.
Additionally, Marlin firmware also offers advanced features such as temperature control and nozzle pressure control for improved print quality.
With its comprehensive feature set and user-friendly interface, Marlin firmware is an ideal choice for anyone looking to get the most out of their 3D printer.
The Marlin Firmware project began in 2011 and has since seen a steady stream of releases. The first version, Marlin 1.0.1, was released on December 2014.
Since then, the project has seen numerous bug fixes and feature updates with each release. Generally speaking, the releases follow a pattern of major releases (e.g., 2.0) followed by minor bugfix releases (e.g., 2.0.1).
This pattern allows users to benefit from new features while still having access to stable versions of the firmware for their 3D printers or CNC machines.
The latest release of Marlin Firmware, version 2.1.1, includes many new features and improvements.
These include support for Custom Thermistors, Configurable Switching Nozzle dwell, Encoder Noise Filter, and Bed Distance Sensor.
Additionally, there are several new boards supported in this release. Finally, many issues have been fixed, and improvements have been made to motion handling and LCD strings, as well as other areas of the firmware.
Marlin and 3D Printing
Marlin is a classic firmware developed for the modification of a 3D printer. It offers a wide range of features, such as auto-leveling bed compensation, thermal runaway protection, stepper motor current control, and more.
Marlin also supports many different types of controllers, including Arduino Mega2560/RAMPS 1.4/RAMPS 1.5/RAMPS 1.6/Sanguinololu/Anet V1.0/Anet V2.0/RUMBA and so on.
With its wide range of features and compatibility with many controllers, Marlin makes it easy to customize your 3D printer to suit your needs.
Klipper vs Marlin: 6 Main Differences
As a 3D printing enthusiast, you’re probably no stranger to the names Klipper and Marlin firmware.
Below, I will compare and contrast six key areas where Klipper and Marlin differ, including installation, customizability, extra features, community support, update frequency, and user experience.
Getting Klipper up and running requires just a few simple actions. It is important to get the printer’s configuration file first. In most cases, this will be in the Klipper config directory, and it will be a file with a “printer-” prefix.
If the printer’s control board type is known, but no configuration file exists, the printer should use a “generic-” prefixed configuration file.
When the configuration file has been obtained and modified, it must be transferred to the Raspberry Pi computer and flashed into the microcontroller. Last but not least, OctoPrint must be set up to talk to Klipper and restarted for the new configuration file to take effect.
After you’ve finished these, Klipper should be ready for action.
Marlin’s installation is similarly simple.
Obtaining the Marlin source code is the first step in customizing your build. The next step is to utilize an integrated development environment (IDE) to generate a binary version of the Marlin project, which can then be uploaded to the board.
The construction procedure may appear complicated initially, but you’ll soon become an expert. After Marlin has been installed, it only has to be re-flashed if any of the permanent settings in the config files have been modified.
Many configurations may be modified and stored in EEPROM with the use of G-codes.
Regarding installation difficulty, I would rate Klipper higher than Marlin. The reason I rated Marlin lower than Klipper is that even though detailed instructions are available, the compiling process can still be daunting for first-time users.
Klipper offers a much higher level of customization potential than Marlin, allowing users to fine-tune their prints to achieve the best results.
Klipper is written in Python, making it easier for users to edit the configuration files and change settings like acceleration, jerk, and Z height. There are also a lot of community-created plugins and mods that you can use to further customize your Klipper setup.
On the other hand, Marlin’s customization options are still extensive, but not as varied as Klipper’s. Marlin’s configuration files are written in C++, which may be more difficult for some users to edit.
Still, it has an extensive configuration menu that allows you to customize your printer’s settings without editing the configuration files directly.
Overall, Klipper has higher customization potential. So, if you’re looking for highly customizable firmware with frequent updates, then Klipper is the better choice; however, if you don’t need as many customization options and want reliable firmware that is frequently updated, then Marlin is a great option too.
3. Extra Features
Both firmwares offer advanced features to improve performance and print quality.
Klipper, for example, offers a built-in API server, support for multiple extruders and temperature sensors, LCD displays with custom menus, continuous acceleration, and more.
And because it’s compatible with many microcontrollers and can be used with existing “RepRap” printers without requiring hardware modifications, it’s a versatile option for a wide range of users. Plus, with its compatibility with OctoPrint, you can easily manage your printer via a web browser.
And with previous versions of Klipper offering features such as mesh bed leveling, parameter calibration on deltas, bed tilt compensation, and more, it’s clear that this firmware is packed with useful tools.
Marlin offers its own impressive array of features as well, such as compatibility with more 3D printers, touch screens, and bed leveling sensors.
It also includes improved thermal control and temperature measurement calibration, as well as a unified bed leveling system and homing back-off system. Marlin also offers safety features such as power-loss recovery and automatic power supply control, as well as electrical features like external closed-loop controller support and optimized SD binary file transfer.
With Marlin 2.0 and later versions, users can enjoy a better overall user experience.
Both Klipper and Marlin have vibrant communities of users and developers who are always willing to help out and answer questions.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced user, there are many online resources where you can get help and advice.
Klipper’s community is particularly focused on helping beginners, while Marlin’s community is geared more toward experienced users. In terms of community support, I would rate both on a same level.
With their regular releases and updates, as well as the wealth of online resources available, Klipper and Marlin offer outstanding community support for users.
If you’re looking for help with Klipper firmware, you can visit and register on the official Klipper Discourse forum. You can find a wealth of information, including documentation, tutorials, and user guides, to help you get started.
In addition to the official website, the Klipper community also maintains an active presence on GitHub. This is a great place to find the latest releases, report bugs, and contribute to the development of Klipper.
And for Marlin firmware, look no further than the official Marlin website. With tons of documentation, you’ll find everything you need to get going.
5. Update Frequency
Klipper and Marlin are two firmware projects that are always pushing the envelope with regular updates and new features. Klipper is known for its responsiveness to user feedback and quick bug fixes.
At the same time, Marlin boasts a larger development team and user base, leading to more frequent updates and a more stable platform.
In terms of update frequency, I would give Marlin a higher rate than Klipper.
6. User Experience
Klipper and Marlin both offer great user experiences. Klipper supports a multitude of user-friendly interfaces and offers a straightforward installation process, making it a great choice for beginners.
On the other hand, Marlin is a bit more complex to set up, but it is more stable and reliable once it is up and running.
When it comes to user experience, I would rate Klipper slightly higher than Marlin. Even if Marlin is easier to use, the Klipper offers you wider options to choose from in terms of the interface, such as Fluidd or Mainsail, which both runs in your web browser.
In conclusion, both Klipper and Marlin are excellent open-source firmware options for 3D printing enthusiasts. Both offer great features and customization potential, as well as active communities to help with any questions or issues you may have.
A small overview of the key differences between Klipper and Marlin:
- They are both open-source, but Marlin is a bit more restrictive. With Marlin, you can view and use the code, but can’t change it.
- Klipper was explicitly designed for 3D printers. Marlin was designed for CNC machines and 3D printers.
- Klipper uses less memory and is faster than Marlin.
- Marlin is more precise than Klipper.
- Klipper offers a much higher level of customization and with more UI options to use.
- The updates of Marlin are released more frequently is than Klipper.
- In terms of community, Klipper’s community is a bit more active than Marlin.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and what you need in a 3D printer firmware. If you’re looking for easy-to-use firmware with plenty of features and customization potential, then Klipper is the way to go. But if you want reliable firmware that is frequently updated and offers great print quality, then Marlin is the better choice. Whichever option you choose, both Klipper and Marlin are sure to provide an excellent user experience.
If you are looking for some inspiration for your next project, check my article: 3D Printing Ideas.