This post will catch my readers up to speed on my 3D Printer project. It’s design is loosely based on the current RepRap Mendel and Prusa Mendel 3D Printer Designs. My goal was to build as much of my 3d printer from what I had on hand. I started this project back in May of 2011. I’ve been working on it in my spare time and having my CNC Mill do 95% of the manufacturing of components for this project. It’s been a good way for me to build CNC programming experience as well as test out the capabilities of my CNC milling machine (based on the popular RF-45 model Mill Drill) to determine Gen 2 upgrades needed to the CNC Mill.
My Reprap project is partially inspired by the fact that I had a prototype Objet Alaris 3D printer for evaluation for work for 9 months prior to their launching of that product. It was mostly product testing and a bit of debugging for Objet but it gave me a full taste of having 3D printer access all the time. I still have and use many of the components I printed out for the house, my zacbuilt engine driven TIG welder, and of course in the Datsun and Mustang. 3d Printing, also often refered to as rapid prototyping, is the greatest thing to come along since the advent of CNC machining for the fabricator. It’s often faster to design a part virtually and just print it out then to try and make it by any other means. It’s a great way to test out crazy ideas, various styling changes, and tactile features of a design.
My RepRap 3D printer will be driven by Gen 6 electronics. This SMT board drives all three axis, and the stepstruder (aka plastic extruder printing head as shown in the right pic above) all in a small low power package. My first go at acquiring a Gen 6 board did not go so well and I ended up returning it. The board had numerous poorly soldered joints and one chip was floating off board at 20 degrees with several pins in the air. I since decided to finish the mechanical before reacquiring another Gen 6 board. By the time I’m ready to fire it up there might even be a better next Gen board design available.
I think I’ll close this post here, I’ll share more about this project over the coming days to get caught up on where I am to date so I can move forward with the next steps.