Friday, November 27, 2009

A Beginning is a Very Delicate Time

It's amazing how little press the RepRap Project gets. A open source, semi self replicating machine is one of those few things new under the sun. It has the ability to change hobby level crafting as much as the dot matrix printer did amateur publishing.

If your here you likely know the history of this project, and if you don't, just go onto Youtube and look up Adrian Bowyer, Vik Olliver, or Zack Smith. They are the most visible faces of dozens of dedicated hardware and software designers that have spent the last 3 years constantly improving the design of RepRap based printers.

Currently there are only 2 RepRap based commercial kits available to my knowledge, Bit from Bytes's Rapman out of Europe, and the Makerbot Industries Cupcake CNC out of New York USA. All other RepRap kits are completely self sourced, but that's where the issue comes in.

The promise of RepRap is the self replicating machine, but in reality it's not self replicating much. If you look on Youtube, or read the blogs, most RepRap based printers in the wild are in one form or another lasercut. So if RepRaps can print 20-40% of it's pieces, why are most RepRap based printers laser cut? TIME

A laser cutter can produce the structural pieces of a RepStrap (printer made from non RepRaped parts) in less than an hour, while it takes a RepRap 20-30 continuous hours to print it's own structural members. Given that the laser cut parts of a RepStrap are going for $200-300 currently RepStrapping makes a lot of since right now. Most people value their time at more than $10 an hour.

That's where this Blog comes in.

In Adrian Bowyer's video on Youtube, where he introduces the Reprap, he speaks of the exponential growth possibilities of the RepRap. He basicly said that given a month every person in the world could have one of these printers, if you could afford to buy the electronics and hardware, and printed constantly. I plan on trying to test this theory.

I have set myself a few goals, and this blog is to keep me honest on trying to achieve them. Here are my goals:

-Receive Makerbot before 12/15/09
-Record the build of the Makerbot and post on Youtube.
-Assemble and make first print with Makerbot by 01/01/10
-Print 1 copy of each unique piece for Mendel RepRap by 01/15/10
-Cast copies of all multiple parts for Mendel by 02/01/10. Post Video to Youtube.
-Continue casting Mendel Pieces until their is no demand for them any longer, or the RepRaps out pace cast production
-Complete Assembly of Cast Mendel, and finish printed Mendel on Makerbot by 03/01/10. Again post Video to Youtube
-If the cast Mendel is of a tolerable quality, offer the Cast pieces online to anyone who wants them.
-Continue to only print Mendel Parts until I own 4 Mendels and a Makerbot. Wear a Darth Vader costume in front of all 5 printers, while they play the Imperial March by 06/01/10, and of course Youtube.
-Produce Mendel printers as a hobby.

Lot's of people have talked about this idea, for YEARS on the RepRap forum, but as of yet it looks like no one has done it. Let's see if I am any different.


  1. Welcome!

    From my experience, I'd add some time between your 1/1 date and 1/15. Unless I'm unlucky enough to be the only one this happened to, it takes a bunch of calibration and experimentation to get a MakerBot to reliably be able to print something like the Mendel extruder holder piece (I forget the part name), which is giving me a lot of trouble.

    Go Mendel!