RepRap 3D Printer

3D Printer Project Update

The project to build my own 3D printer has stalled a bit lately. Largely because the house needed new siding, and that’s almost $20K worth of work. As I’ve tendered my resignation at Stratasys and will be losing access to free 3D printing, this is going to force me to step things up a bit if I want to keep creating new things.

Thinking About Functionality

To that end, I’ve started to think more and more about this thing, and what I want to do with it. At first, I was gung-ho about building a system that was on-par with one of the uPrint SE Plus machines, at least where build volume and resolution were concerned. As I’ve been thinking more and more about the stuff I want to do, I’ve been thinking about upping the ante in two areas.

First, is build volume. I’ve been doing a lot of research and thinking about carbon layup, and been thinking about taking a crack at building some bike frames (with the understanding that this is a long-term project that requires a ton of research, practice, and testing). I’d like to be able to print molds big enough for a front triangle. A 30 inch (78cm) by 30 inch build plate with 15 inches (39cm) of vertical would give me the room to build some other really awesome stuff. (Like parts for my dream Halloween costume.)

Next is the desire to have a dual-extruder. Most RepRap instances I’ve seen are single-material, but after spending a year at Stratasys, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m kind of happy having soluble support materials. My recent discovery that I can buy PVA (water soluble), leads me to want to go dual-extruder. I can also flip it and use PVA as the build material and ABS (or PLA) as the support, so that I can create soluble cores for carbon layup work.

Given the size of the build area, I may need to consider going with a heated enclosure rather than a heated bed. We’ll see.

Next Steps

Get back to ordering parts. I think that later this week, I’m going to sit down, run a quick inventory, and look at the bill of materials, and then figure out what’s next on my “to-order” list.

Image Credits: Deezmaker.

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