RepRap Report


Here’s a RepRap update, which I plan to do every now and then to track the progress of the RepRaster 5000. (Yeah, that’s the name of it. At least until I come up with a better one.)

The RepRaster 5000 has been fully operational for about a month now, and I have managed to make a few things in that time. Most of my prints have come out okay… not great, but okay.


I’m using Slic3r and a pre-compiled version of Pronterface on Mac OS X 10.6.8. I’ve had one or two STL files that had some issues with Slic3r, but besides that it’s been a fairly solid setup. I’m still using Sketchup for some 3D modeling, and OpenSCAD continues to confuse me.


My first prints were on a sheet of glass taped down to my heated PCB. They turned out pretty bad. Because of the way the PCB was attached to the platform I couldn’t clip the glass tightly into place. Oh, the PCB was also mounted flat(ish) to the wooden platform. I ended up raising up the PCB above the wooden platform, thinking it would help it heat up faster (it seems to) and I’d also then be able to clip the glass to the PCB. This is way better. Easier to work with, for sure.

So now I’ve got the PCB above the wood (spaced with a few nuts and washers) and the glass attached to the PCB with bulldog (AKA “binder”) clips. My first prints on plain glass were hit and miss, and the ratio was not improving. I tried ABS slurry (which is acetone with some filament dissolved in it) but that was messy and still didn’t seem to work that well. I ended up putting Kapton tape on the glass, and then just using nail polish remover to clean the Kapton well before printing. (I’d prefer to use the nail polish remover over the acetone if possible, since it’s less smelly.) Finally, I was getting really good adhesion! (I’m doing two skirt loops 6mm from the print.)

Leveling Nut

The one thing that really helped printing (so far) was leveling the bed, which was completely impossible at first. With just the nuts, there was no way in heck I was going to get things level. Then I found the Parametric Thumbwheel, printed four of them, and at last… a level bed! Again, one of the great things about a RepRap is that it can (often) print its own upgrades. I’ve got my eye on a few other items that might make things better/easier/faster.

I’m at a point now where I feel like I can print things, and while they aren’t the best quality yet, that will change in the future, with more and more tweaking. I’m looking forward to sharing tips & tricks at the Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup happening July 1st, 2012, and 3D Printing Camp on July 21st, 2012. If you’re at all interested in this stuff, either event (or both!) would be a great introduction.


RepRap (almost there!)

MakerGear Prusa Mendel RepRap (In Progress)

My project list has had RepRap 3D Printer on it for a long time… way too long. There are a few reasons for this. One reason is that I just don’t get large chunks of time to work on it. Working two jobs, having a family, and doing “other things” keep me pretty busy. Another reason is that I get involved in other projects. Most of the other projects are short-term, quick ones. Like the Arc-O-Matic, or another Drawbot, or some weird art, or small things that take maybe a day or two (or three) but not months.

But one of the other things that may have slowed me down in this project is… fear. With so many of my projects, they tend to be within my comfort zone, or just slightly outside of my comfort zone, but not way outside of my comfort zone. The RepRap has been (at times) outside of my comfort zone. I tend to like visual instructions. You know who excels at great visual instructions? Adafruit does, as does Evil Mad Scientist Labs. That’s why I love getting kits from them, and supporting them their work.

So this fear I mentioned… at some point I think I got too wrapped up in making sure I did everything right, but here’s the thing about a RepRap, even if it is a kit, you won’t do everything right. Nope, try as you might, you’re going to screw something up. Even if you’ve built other kits, and follow all the instructions, and use the mailing list, and blog posts, and IRC, and Google+… unless you’ve done it before, you will screw something up. (Hell, you might even screw things up if you’ve done it before.) But here’s the thing to remember: part of building a RepRap is learning, and that includes learning from mistakes. Building it up from a box full of parts does one thing, it ensures you can (probably) tear the whole damn thing apart and fix it. With all these new 3D Printers coming on the market that are fully assembled, that may not be the case. That’s one of the big questions I have. Let’s say you buy a 3D-A-Ma-Jig (yeah, I made that up) from 3D-A-Ma-Jig Incorporated, and it breaks… what do you do? What about repairs? What about warranties? Do you ship it back? Take it in… somewhere? This is part of the reason I went the RepRap route, so I would know every part of the machine.

So this past weekend I got a lot done. I probably put in close to 10 hours, and I learned a lot in that 10 hours. Sure, I read blog posts, Google+ comments, and lots of poorly explained “instructions” with no images, but hey, if things blow up, I can replace them. I’m saying goodbye to fear and forging on. I may earn my Magic Blue Smoke Badge, but dammit, that’s a badge of honor, not just among RepRap builders, but hackers and makers everywhere!

So what I’m really saying is, the RepRap is really close to being done.


Woes in Plastic

Lens Gear

Bleargh!!! Sorry, had to get that out…

I seemed to be able to do nothing right last night at Milwaukee Makerspace. I joked that the only thing I was able to make was a mess. Besides hot-gluing my own thumb (though not my ass) and having many MakerBot failures, I was able to print two things, though even those two didn’t turn out that great. I’m getting a bit frustrated with the MakerBot Cupcake, and the mysteries of Skeinforge aren’t helping.

I’m waiting for MakerGear to ship my RepRap Prusa Mendel, which of course will require assembly, and configuration, and ten other weird things, but hopefully at the end I’ll have better prints than the Cupcake. Don’t get me wrong, the Cupcake is fun, but it’s also frustrating.

So I printed the 70mm lens gear, even though I really need one that’s about 85mm, just because I’ll be using a follow focus next week, and I want to see if this works. The gear teeth look good, even if the print itself did not turn out great.

Bottle Opener

I also tried this bottle opener, and again, while it is OK, it’s definitely not great. It looks pretty sloppy. The weird bits in the centr are the Milwaukee Makerspace logo, which was way too small to even attempt to print. It also filled in some of the hole areas a bit, which I had to remove the plastic from. That may be due to me editing the STL in Sketchup and creating a new STL with my own edits. I don’t know…

I think I need to take a break from printing things for a bit, and work on some other things. Printing takes a long time, and if it’s the only thing I do at the space, I feel like I’m neglecting other projects. (I did work on my Nutellastruder a bit, of course that led to the hot-gluing of my thumb!)


Oh, we did play around with KinectToStl a bit. Again, the results were not super-impressive, but it was fun to experiment with it. I didn’t bother to read the instructions, so there may be some good times on making it work better, but that will be something to try another day.

Update: The bottle opener broke while trying to open a bottle. #fail