Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Where To Start?

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I'd like to put together some hardware to try some experiments. Here's the problem: While I'm pretty decent with mechanics, electronics and software, my carpentry and machinist skills are lacking. The current state of RepRap, though, requires quite a bit of machining and/or carpentry. So, I've been exploring my options and what I've come up with so far is:

1. Assemble a Fab@Home device. As far as I can tell, there's no machining involved, not even drilling holes. It is a tad on the expensive side, though. Also has a syringe tool instead of an extruder.
2. Buy a cheap 3-axis, router and try to put together an extruder. Slightly cheaper than a Fab@Home but does require building an extruder.
3. Try to build one of the RepRap devices (e.g. Tommelise) from scratch. Certainly the cheapest solution but almost certainly destined to end up askew and half-finished.
4. Wait a while until someone starts selling RepRap kits. Probably cheap and relatively easy to assemble but I'm guessing it'll be a while before a design is stable enough for kitting.

Unfortunately, I can't decide which course to take, so the default action is inaction.

I'm expecting my lego repstrap xyz stage to ship soon! (the turnaround time for custom kits during the holiday season is painful!) You'll need to add your own electronics/motors/etc, and it doesn't have an extruder, but initial prototypes have resulted in a solid, easy to build, xyz platform, for around $50 or so... (without rack&pinion&motor axles)
Of the options listed, "inaction" is not as daft as it seems - at least as far as hardware aquisition goes. The Darwin prototype is being worked on, and some of the basic components such as the driver board and extruder are tantalisingly close.

I'd advise setting up a PC to the point where it can run the RepRap software, make it ping itself through a serial port, then re-evaluate the hardware situation.

Vik :v)
Well, I frankly don't see how you figure that fab@home is more advanced than reprap since they don't even have an operational extruder as such. It's certainly a lot flashier and has that patina of professionalism that you always find with projects flogged out of the Ivy League. If, though, that's the way you feel you should save up $2,500 and get yourself a fab.
I have set a goal for myself to build a RepRap by the end of 2007. By then, I can learn everything and then some. I was thinking I may just order some of the PCL plastic they use to print most of the RepRap parts, heat it up, and sculpt the parts for Darwin by hand. It might not be pretty, but it'll get me a RepStrap.
i definitely feel you. i've been mulling over this same thing for a while, and it led me to the conclusion that one thing this project is going to need to be successful is some sort of supply side help. the vast majority of the people out there have neither the tools or the skills to create one entirely from hand.

which is why i think i'm going to form a non-profit corp that can handle all the things necessary to set up shop on the internet and sell supplies, parts, kits, and fully assembled machines to those that want them. obviously since the project is open you can do it whatever way you like, but it would be sooo much easier if you could just go to and buy the things you need all in one go it would rock. and since it was a non profit, you know all the money would be going back into the project itself.

that being said, i'm going to begin construction of my device once i get the necessary parts and then once i get a real machine, i'd like to start cranking out parts and control boards and then shipping them out to people who are interested.
The thing about supplying RepRap parts is that you don't want to be left holding a stock of 300 V1.0 left-handed smoke grinders when the V1.1 version comes out.

RepRap V1.0 is going to be pretty dynamic. Maybe it can be done with an array of RepRaps. Maybe some parts will be easier than others. It'll be fun sorting it out.

But yes, I too would like to be providing parts. But a nailed-down V1.1 design might be needed before stocks can be built up.

Vik :v)
What's the stock thing? Why would you want to keep stock with a reprap? Somebody want's something, you download the proper STL and turn on the machine. When it's done you put it in a padded envelope and slope on down to the post office. :-D
I would sooo love to buy a RepRap (in Canada) in order to get started!!!
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