Monday, August 9, 2010
Building a 3D printer.
First blog entry, ever...
After following the open source 3D printer project (reprap.org) for over 2 years, I finally decided to start building my own machine. The reprap project aims at building a printer that can print its own components. Since there are very few printers at this moment, a different printer is needed to make the initial parts of the reprap printer. This type of printer is called a repstrap printer (reprap+bootstrap). So without a complete plan, I ordered some parts in February 2010 to get started, and design my repstrap while building it.
From following the blogs I had learned that one part of the printer, the extruder, is particularly tricky to make without a very good set of tools ( proper drill press, lathe etc.) so for this I decided to order a kit from makerbot, the makerbot MK4 extruder. For the rest of the printer I wanted to use of the principles of the latest generation of reprap3D printers, the reprap Mendel printer, and use material which I already had or which I could buy locally. The Mendel printer, is designed with the limitations of home production in mind: you will never be able to drill to holes in exactly the right spot, 2 metal bars which should be parallel, will never be exactly parallel etc. But a clever design allows you to create a machine which is very precise, even though some of the parts have not been created as accurate as you would have liked to have them, more on this later.
After working on and off on the repstrap, I finally got the printer to work and the first test object came out of the printer in July 2010.
There was a plan to blog about the progress of the machine during the whole project, but there was too little time. I do plan to document now some parts of the design in this blog in the coming days showing some of my design decisions for later reference, but especially hoping it will be useful for others building a repstrap of their own.
So to show it really works the first picture of objects printed by this machine and the machine itself.