MakerGear Prusa Mendel RepRap (In Progress)

Note: If you hear me refer to my “MakerGear RepRap Prusa Mendel” as the RepRaster 5000, just go with it. I think it sounds slightly better than “MakerGear RepRap Prusa Mendel”.

Deciding on a 3D printer isn’t easy, and it’s getting not easier all the time. In October 2011 I decided to order the Prusa Mendel kit from MakerGear. I made my decision based on the fact that (at the time) the RepRap Prusa Mendel seemed like the best 3D printer around, for the price. I’ve used the MakerBot CupCake we had at the Milwaukee Makerspace quite a bit, and while it’s a nice little machine, it’s outdated and showing its age, and lack of quality. I also couldn’t quite afford to go the MakerBot route at the time. (Though they do make some nice machines!)

As for the cost… I decided not to go super-cheap and self-source all the materials because my time does have some value, and I really didn’t feel like screwing around with 10 different vendors, and multiple shipping costs, minimum orders, etc, so the MakerGear kit made sense to me. Everything I’d need in one box, from one company. (In theory.)

The one thing I’d really like to see improved from MakerGear is the documentation. Documentation is one of the things I think MakerBot does well, by the way. MakerGear’s documentation consists of a Google Doc that tells you things, with some photos (that are not very good) and then points you to the standard Prusa assembly instructions for most things, and then points you to another tutorial on the web for the electronics, and it’s a bit messy. I was really hoping for an instructional experience like I get from Evil Mad Scientist Labs or Adafruit Industries. Those two companies do an amazing jobs of documenting their kits.

MakerGear has an IRC channel and a mailing list for support as well, but again, awesome docs with awesome photos and/or illustrations would be a dream for me. I tend to be a visual person, and need that stuff. For instance, I didn’t know that bushings and bearing were different things while building, and while maybe 9 out of 10 people building a RepRap know this, I might be that 1 person that doesn’t… and you might be that one person as well.

Anyway, enough of my (hopefully minor) complaining. I’ve been happy with the kit except for some confusing things along the way, and while I’ve been working on it for months, that should in no way indicate how long it takes to put together. Due to work and other projects, I only work on it here and there, maybe 1 to 2 hours a week, and sometimes I go a week or two with no work done. I’ve been told that a solid weekend of 8-12 hour days could get it built and up and running.

May 16, 2012 – First print! It works, but definitely needs work as far as calibration, etc. I’ll continue to update this page as the RepRap progresses, or I’ll just like to blog posts about it.

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