I’m going to undertake a very long term project, building a self replicating 3D plastic extruding printer, aka: Reprap Mendel. The quoted paragraph below sums up a reprap far better than I can:
RepRap is a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap can print those parts, RepRap can be considered a self-replicating machine – one that anyone can build given time and materials. It also means that – if you’ve got a RepRap – you can print lots of useful stuff, and you can print another RepRap for a friend.
So in short, it extrudes hot melted plastic layer by layer to build up an object that was designed using a 3D modeling program. For more info check out their wiki at reprap.org.
I will be building their second generation Mendel and using either ABS or HDPE plastic filament to print with, which depends on what I can find locally. Once built, I will look to add a few things that have been done before and some that haven’t.
Some of the add-on’s to the original design that I will be looking to copy include:
- A heated bed to help prevent warping.
- A geared Nema 17 Extruder to increase precision and torque.
- Conveyor belt for continues printing (very experimental)
- Building the Mendel with the electronics separately housed.
- Enclosing the Mendel in a sound proof heater chamber
There are some other ideas that I would like to try that, as far as I can tell from a quick google, no one else has attempted. They include:
- A slave extruder. This would be a secondary extruder that when coupled to the first extruder and off set by half a print bed length would print the same object as the first. This would effectively double a single Mendel’s output for a relatively small additional cost. This also has the additional benefit of being a backup extruder if the first fails. The only downside is that it would halve the print area. However, from a look at the object database over at thingiverse I doubt this would be a problem for most objects.
- Looking into ways to shred HDPE milk bottles so that they can be recycled. This topic has been explored lightly on the reprap wiki but so far no working prototype. The topic of extruding shredded HDPE is also something a number of times but as far as im aware there is no reliable system currently running.
Anyway, enough pipe dreaming. The fist and biggest challenge of the lot is to build a my very own Mendel and then, more importantly, make it reliable.