Saturday, January 10, 2009


Spare parts!

One of the fascinating things about this project is that you get to make your own spare parts.

My machine has been mostly idle for the last few weeks, as I was rebuilding my extruder and readjusting things after a series of head collisions (stupid user error!).  I've been having a lot of trouble with my extruder lately, as after pushing 2.5 kg of plastic through it, most of the parts seem to have worn out a bit.

So, I've been slowly replacing the original hand cast Bits from Bytes parts with parts that were produced on the machine itself.  A few days ago I received a couple new extruder barrels, drive screws and nozzles from Brian, which prompted me to finally replace my much abused screw holder and polymer guide.  The old holder and guide were worn to the point of nearly touching, which, when combined with my bent drive screw, meant that my extruder was now extruding in fits and starts.

The new drive screw and half bearings from Brian, traded for a set of extruded extruder parts, work very well!   Very smooth motion, much smoother power output from the PID loop, and less power to boot.  As a result of the more accurate drive screw, I'm also getting smoother plastic delivery, and more accurate parts built.

The interesting thing is that I've now replaced every single cast part on the extruder with parts extruded on my own Darwin.  The really interesting thing is that it's now working even better than it did originally!

Other than a slipping x belt that is, but that's another issue.  :)

Here's a shot of the new extruder.  I traded off all my good spare parts, these ones are on the ugly side, but they do work nicely.


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So your Darwin has more or less replaced itself. Cool! :-D
Well, the extruder parts anyway. Wish I could make new parts for myself, I'd add in an extra arm for ski-boxing. :)
When will reprap finally fullfill it's promise of people making cheap spare parts for eachother and sending them around ?

Doesn't seem to be happening. Yes I know about the shop. That's not -at all- cheap.
Well, I sold my first set of Darwin parts for a case of beer back in November; I'd say that's pretty cheap. :)
The part I keep breaking is the X Axis Opto Flag. I must admit that my latest one for the Child is made from a piece of tin can. Boysenberry pie filling, not beer for a change :)

Vik :v)
@Wade : I'd love to trade you a set for a case of beer.

However, look at the fora. Yes, perhaps there are a few token transactions. But it's certainly not "the way things are done".
If you have a look on the forums, you'll see there's a number of people actively trading parts. Actual reprapped parts are pretty rare still, but they're getting out there. Brian for instance, traded me a set of machined parts for a set of reprapped extruder parts. Actually the deal was for two sets, but I haven't printed his second set yet.

Since the first full Darwin transaction only happened a month ago, you'll probably have to wait a few years before Reprapped parts kits are widely available to the general public.

That's where the laser cut kits come in; if you don't feel like waiting a few years for a $400 RepRap, you can buy a kit today for about $1500. Or you could pick up an existing commercial machine for a few $10k's. It's one of those time vs money things.

On the other hand, if you get involved in the project, you might find a set of parts coming your way much sooner. :)

@ Wade, I think you should keep the next REPRAP for yourself and dedicate it to reproducing, you seem to be the closest thing to a replicating center.
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