CPU Swaps & Firmware – We want Source Code

With the Chinese companies trying to keep costs low, most of them are swapping out name brand CPUs from vendors like STM32 to others that are not supported by firmware that we all commonly use. We put out the firmware for the community to make 3D printers better as well as make using our products easier. We have been spending far too much time trying to make code work on these processors because these companies are pulling bait and switches to cut corners also while ignoring their GPL V3 responsibilities.

Starting today we will no longer be spending time reverse engineering Marlin to work on new CPUs that are showing up at random. If you want a new CPU supported in our firmware, you will need to get us the Marlin source code from the manufacturer or someone else who has working Marlin source code for that particular CPU that is not already supported. We’re tired of these companies not respecting the obligations to the GPL V3 license and we’re fed up with it.

This is not fair to us or you as consumers to watch a review on a machine only to get something that is not able to be upgraded and in many cases also inferior quality because the manufacturer pulled a bait and switch on you to save a few $. STM CPUs and other clones that are already supported are available even at slightly higher prices. At this point (in our opinion), it is being done to cut costs, not because of “shortages”.

Communicating with our Customers

While we try to keep our pages up to date it seems like every other week printers are showing up long after launch with clone/copy/knockoff CPUs on them from multiple Chinese printer companies. We have been noting on firmware pages if we are aware of a CPU that is NOT compatible.

If you are looking to upgrade your firmware and/or purchase upgrades for your printer that require firmware and are unsure of the CPU send us a message first. We will be glad to verify if the code we have works on your board/CPU setup.

Check your CPU BEFORE you Buy

It is up to you as the customer to verify if firmware and/or upgrades work on your printer. If you are in a spot where you purchased parts from us that require a firmware update but we don’t have one for your printer CPU because of a swap like we are discussing you can return the products or wait for support to happen. These returns will be subject to our standard return policy and restocking fees, we will not be waiving any fees because of the actions of these companies to cut corners.

Source Code is now Required

If a new CPU type shows up that is not already supported in our Unified 2 or Marlin 2, we will not be allocating any company time to getting code running on them unless we have proper source code for the CPU. This source code should come from the manufacturer or if a community member has working code that is acceptable as well.

Option 1 – Get the source code from the manufacturer

If the printer is running Marlin, you are entitled legally to the source code that was used to build the firmware on the machine that you received from them. Contact them and request it and remind them of their obligations to the GPL V3 license that Marlin is released under. Once you have that send it our way and we’ll be able to merge it into our Unified 2 firmware to help you and the community out.

If they won’t give you the SOURCE CODE (not just a hex/bin file) then we would highly recommend you inform them of the violation of the GPL V3 license and return the printer to the place of purchase. Getting high returns on printers will get their attention because it costs them $. Also, if the printer was purchased from a reseller like Amazon or Microcenter, make sure to contact their customer service to inform them that the products they are selling are in violation of US copyright law.

Option 2 – Swap the Control Board

If there is no firmware from the manufacturer, us, or other community members then you can always replace the control board with one that is supported already. You can install basically any control board in any printer with enough time and know-how.

Option 3 – Return the Printer

If you don’t feel like fighting with the manufacturer or swapping the control board then send it back. Returns on printers due to manufacturers not providing source code and/or using inferior silicon will cost them and get their attention.

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