posts tagged with the keyword ‘reprap’


One of the great things about Milwaukee Makerspace is the inspiration you get from other people. Kevin recently used our aluminum forge to create a piece he calls FEAR, which he said was an update of Robert Indiana’s LOVE.

I’m not one to give in to fear, and I figured that with a new year beginning we should focus on something a bit more positive, so I created MAKE.

I also figured I’d walk through the process of creating this piece.

MAKE in Inkscape

While MAKE is three dimensional, it’s really just an extruded two dimensional form (sometimes called 2.5 dimensional) so I started as I often do, with Inkscape. I used Georgia Bold, which is the font Kevin used in his piece, and typed up the letters for MAKE.

MAKE outlined

I selected each letter and combined them into one object via the “Union” command under the “Path” menu.

MAKE outlines joined

At this point we no longer have editable text but an outlined object. We still have curved lines though, and that just won’t do for 3D printing, as we need all straight line segments.

MAKE with straight lines

I selected all of the segments and inserted new nodes. Once you have more nodes, you can convert all of the segments into straight lines. No more curves! If you add enough nodes the short straight line segments will look like a proper curve. (Adding more segments can increase the complexity of the file, which can increase the time to process and print it, so don’t go too crazy.)

MAKE reversed

After I had my artwork outlined, I exported it as a DXF file and brought it into OpenSCAD to extrude it. Also, here’s a trick: I actually flipped it 180 degrees in OpenSCAD so that it would face down on the print bed. I wanted the “front” of the piece nice and smooth.


Here’s what it looks like in proper perspective… What’s that? You’re already getting inspired to make something? Excellent!

MAKE in plastic

And here’s our final piece. MAKE… in plastic… for your desktop. I like the white, but I definitely need to get more filament colors… I think this would look great in orange or red!


I made an attempt at a larger version, but the old RepRap went a little crazy and the print failed about 15% into it. Still, it’s a pretty good MAKE if you ask me. Perhaps this one is more suitable for the wall than the desk.

(Note: grab the file from Thingiverse.)


3D Printing Accessories

So you’ve got a 3D Printer on your Xmas list, or somehow you’ve convinced your company that they need to get one before the end of 2012 because it’s a tool you’ll definitely need in 2013. (And yeah, it probably is!)

So the big question is… what else do you need?

You may not need any of these things, but these are the things I’ve found useful to have around during the past year of 3D printing. Now, keep in mind, I make a lot of functional parts. Some people just make pretty things, and the amount of extra stuff you need for “pretty” things versus “functional” things may vary. (And yes, I focused mainly on tools/items you need for prints, not the actual printer.)

Drill, Drill Bits, Drill Press
I often make parts with holes, or need to make holes in parts. Sometimes you’ll print a part with a hole that needs something inserted into it, either a bolt, or a rod, or a dowel, or screw, or something else round. Running a drill bit through the hole can help smooth things out and get the hole the right size. Sometimes you don’t even need a drill, but just the bit with a pair of pliers, or a vise-grip, or even a vise. Running the bit back and forth (without it turning) can clean up those edges in a hole.

On occasion I need to make the holes after I print something. In this case the drill press often comes in very handy. Sometimes you don’t know you need the holes, or you want more precise (or smaller) holes than you can get from printing. There’s no shame in drilling holes in a piece you printed. It’s just another tool in the process of making.

There’s also reamers and tappers, but I don’t use those, don’t have those, and won’t get into those.

Files, Sandpaper, X-ACTO Knives (and blades!)
Sometimes part just don’t fit right, or sometimes it’s better to make something a little too large and take of the extra. A set of files (flat and rounded) can do the job. The round ones can also come in handy like the drill bits mentioned above. Sandpaper also has its uses, though any of the abrasive tools will leave the surface looking a bit ugly. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder of course, and if it’s a part you don’t see, it probably doesn’t matter. As for the X-ACTO knife (and blades) they can be used to cut away edges, excess plastic, support material, etc. A good knife always comes in useful. I’ve also used a pair of diagonal cutters on occasion. A bit less precise than an X-ACTO knife, but sometimes it’s the right tool.

Acetone and/or Glue
Sometimes you just gotta stick one part to another part. I’ve heard people mention JB Weld, or Super Glue, but for sticking one piece of ABS plastic to another, I just use acetone. It’s messy, stinky, and tricky to work with, but it does a heck of a job. (For PLA I supposed I’d go with Super Glue, YMMV.)

Rubber Bands, Zip Ties, Tape
The rubber bands are often used in conjunction with the acetone, to hold parts together until dry. There are of course other uses for rubber bands. As for zip ties, if you built a Prusa, you’ve already got a bunch of them! Sometimes they’re the right tool for holding things together… and sometimes it’s tape. I prefer gaff tape myself, but masking tape can come in pretty handy.

What Else!?
I’m sure there’s plenty of other bits and pieces and tools and whatnot that I’ve forgotten (a Dremel tool perhaps?) but I figured this was a good list to get started.


New Slider

If you saw my post about a Motorized Camera Slider, this is a bit of an update, but it’s really more about the process than the end product, so if you’re interested in that, read on!

Slider End (Original)

I was originally using the improved camera slider V2 from our pal Marcus, and it worked well enough, but I wanted something different, so I tweaked what he had.

Slider End sliced

Marcus created his original file (I think) with Alibre Design, and since I couldn’t open it, I just worked with the STL file he provided. I loaded that into OpenSCAD and grabbed a slice of it using this method.

Slider End outline

Once I had a line drawing of the original slider end, I could use it to make my own. I imported the DXF File into Inkscape, my standard for 2D (and 2.5D) illustration.

Slider End outline

In reality, the only parts I really used from the original were the approximate size of the piece, and the two holes for the rods. I could have measured things, but loading up a file as a template was easier. I guess I could have got all fancy at this point, but I just kept it simple.

New Slider End

Once I had my SVG done in Inkscape, and exported a DXF file, it was a matter of doing the old linear_extrude method, like I did for my snowflakes, etc. I saved out an STL file and I was ready to print.

Nw Slider End

Here’s what the final piece looks like. One of the issues I had with the design Marcus created was that the rods only went part way into the plastic. There were screw holes to tighten down some screws onto the rods to hold things in place, but I never put any in. They might have also helped with the twisting issue this design has, but I may explore the idea of a two-piece design that clamps tight with the plastic. Or not… the nice thing is, it’s easy to experiment.

If I wanted to, I could probably make these ends out of wood, which would require just a drill press, or maybe out of a nice heavy metal, which might require drilling, or maybe milling. Both processes are a little messy, potentially more expensive, and require equipment you might not have. The nice thing about 3D printing these is that I can iterate a design quickly, and at a very low cost. I can even make them mostly hollow to save on time and materials during testing, and then make stronger, more solid versions when desired.

Nw Slider End

You may notice the carriage has some zip ties on it. Those are holding the LM8UU linear bearings in place. My original carriage was way too stiff, and without exact alignment (which you may not get with DIY plastic parts) it didn’t slide without some binding. The bearings were 58 cents each (I got a 10-pack from an ebay seller.) The bearings are a little noisy, so if you plan to shoot video with sound, you might have some issues. (Maybe more expensive bearing would make less noise?) As for the rods, they were about $15 each (pricey compared to the other parts) from There are cheaper alternatives depending on length, size, quality, etc. I went with 8mm because those are standard RepRap sizes.

At some point I may play with carriage designs as well. I actually did an early version that used felt instead of linear bearings (another trick from the RepRap world) which makes things cheaper and quieter, which may be desirable in some cases. And of course, I need to revisit the whole “motorized” part of this thing.

Until next time!


End Stop

Somehow I can’t believe it’s been four months since my last RepRap update! I’ve got a lot to report…

In July I took the RepRaster 5000 to 3D Printing Camp in Madison, and that didn’t work out too well. The first problem was that I couldn’t get the bed up to temperature (and yeah, I print with ABS.) I didn’t notice the ceiling fan directly above me. I moved. I also managed to knock the Z end stop out of place, which made the extruder crash into the bed. No real damage from it, but I decided I needed a new end stop solution. The new one is way more solid. No easy way to bump it out of alignment.

I also took the RepRap to the Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup. Once again something went goofy, but I did get it working fairly quickly after the first fail. (Just a few weeks ago I took the RepRap to BarCampMilwaukee7 and had no issues at all. Success!)


At some point I got sick of all those damn wires coming from the ATX power supply, so in the process of making them shorter, I hosed something up good and ended up with a power supply that supplied no power. I finally got a smaller (and more powerful!) power supply. I’m not 100% happy about the mains not being totally covered up, so I should make a case for it at some point. It works very well though… much better than the ATX supply did.


My great spool experiment was a bit of a failure. I mean, at least I don’t use soup cans, and while I still think my idea was good (or at least looked good) trying to wind a coil of filament onto a spool is damn near impossible. Just ask my daughter, who had to hold back from laughing when the power drill kept slapping me in the head with filament. I’ll probably move to one of those adjustable filament holders you can easily get a coil onto. At home I end up just hanging the filament from the ceiling, so that works fine.

QU-BD Extruder

I ended up getting an extruder from the QU-BD Kickstarter campaign, and I haven’t bothered to assemble it yet. My original plan was to donate it to the DIY 3D printer we were going to build at Milwaukee Makerspace. Since we ended up getting a Replicator, we didn’t build a printer. It’s a 1.75mm extruder, and since I use 3mm now, I may end up switching to 1.75mm in the future, so it could come in handy.


My best RepRap hack was getting my MacBook out of the picture and making good use of my old Eee PC 701. This was the first netbook ever released, way back in 2007. I’ve struggled with how to make it do something useful, and now it does. I’ve connected an old LCD display I got for free to it, and it sits on the shelf near my workbench. It does one thing… control the RepRap. It’s plenty powerful for that. I do all my modeling and slicing on my MacBook, so the Eee PC just runs Pronterface. And for traveling I can just bring the Eee PC and it doesn’t take up much room.

Mr. Pumpkintatohead

Hey look, it’s Mr. Pumpkintatohead! Nothing amazing, but I’m getting better at using OpenSCAD. I managed to design all the parts (minus the knobs) for my Laser Kaleidoscope in OpenSCAD (no, they are not parametric, but hopefully I’ll get better as time goes by.) I also managed to complete a home repair thanks to OpenSCAD and the RepRap. Hooray!

I’ve still got some challenges. Now that it’s getting colder out, and I’m printing bigger objects, I’ve got some warping issues. As winter comes, this may be my biggest problem. Besides that, things have been working really well. One thing I’ve found is that I’m not happy with my z height. It’s just 75mm, and I’d like to see a bit more. Oh, I also switched from Sprinter to Marlin, so I may be able to get a few more millimeters of height by just updating the firmware. (I was a little conservative at first.) I can probably gain a few more millimeters with a new piece of plywood under the bed. There’s always something to tweak with a RepRap…

I think the biggest change from June to October is that I am now confident enough that I can hit ‘print’ and leave the basement and I’ll come back to a successful print. I used to just stare at the bed as the skirt went down, and that first layer went down… in part because I was fascinated, but also in part because I always assumed something would go wrong. Things tend to go right almost every time now… it’s almost like having 3D printer at home is a normal everyday thing. :)

(You can see some photos of my prints over on Flickr. I’m way behind in taking photos of my prints, but there’s a few interesting ones in there.)



I (somewhat) jokingly posted something the other day about how my wife asked me to 3D print something, and was totally serious this time and not sarcastic about it. To be fair, she’s heard me say “I’ll just 3D print one!” about 100 times this summer, and was probably sick of it, but when you live in the future, it’s pretty damn exciting.

Or story begins back in 2009 when we moved into our current house. The light above the front door was just a bare bulb, with nothing around it. I’m assuming there was a glass ball at one point, and it must have broke, or been stolen, or dematerialized. No matter, we can fix it.

3D Printed Part

While at Home Depot the wife found a cheapie plastic majigger that would fit over the light bulb, so we bought it. This is also when she suggested I could “make it work” and thus, I agreed.

I ended up using OpenSCAD to design a simple ring that would press-fit the new piece, and have the needed holes to fix the fixture… and adapter, if you will.

It fits!

It worked! As you may notice, there are no mounting holes. I often don’t bother making holes in the objects I print because I’ve got a drill press, and it makes much more precise holes than the RepRaster 5000 can. (And just to be clear, the clear piece is not what I printed. I printed the black piece. Got it?)

Holes for screws

Here’s the piece after I drilled the holes and secure it into the fixture with two small bolts. Sadly the small bolts are a little long, and stick out the top, but hey, it’s still an improvement.


So now on the front of the house is this lovely cheapie plastic majigger instead of just a bare light bulb. Home Improvements FTW!

This is one more thing where I really don’t know how I could have done this as elegantly without a 3D printer. Using open source software I designed the needed adapter and then printed it out using open source hardware, and the total cost of materials (ABS plastic) was probably less than 50 cents. As I said… living in the future and all that.

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