Nord, a Reprap Mendel
This is my build of a Reprap v2 3D Printer, called a Mendel. Since 2005, the inventors of the Reprap have been leading a now worldwide movement to create a self replicating open source 3D printer.
It works by laying lines of molten plastic down in layers and builds them up in the physical shape of a 3d model that you can make on your computer using open source software.
There are several open source 3D printers going around, some are available in kit form and others like the Mendel are open designs that you need some help to make yourself, i.e you need to find a way to source the parts that are printed by another machine. I got mine printed by a frined with a Makerbot and we built our Mendels at the same time. We also tried to buy as many parts as we could locally which saved some cash in the process and developed local interest in the idea of home 3D printing.
I found building this machine to be one of the best and most fun learning experiences I've ever had in my adventures in DIY. I started calling it my "Intro to Everything" because it covers mechanical fundamentals to interfacing with embedded electronics and finally fabricating my own 3D designs and others available for personal use from websites like thingiverse.com and the Reprap Object Library. People have designed and made everything from better Reprap parts (that help in the evolution of these printers) to household objects and *robot parts* and school supplies.
I just took it for its first stress tests today and since everything worked fine, I'll mount the extruder and go big...
Notes on the Software:
I design with free software called Blender or Google Sketchup, then export to a program called Skeinforge which generates GCode for the printer, then finally print the gcode file in a program called ReplicatorG.
Update, 5/21/2010: Just finished re-installing a Wade's NEMA17 extruder and configured it into the ReplicatorG control panel via the machines.xml file in the RepG folder. Also made some mods on my major wiring issues. This was by far the most challenging thing for me to date. I seem to do well with all things mechanical, but at software, files and code I balk at its seeming complexity sometimes. Anyway, it was easy in the end. Now that I have a complete machine, I'm onto some test extrusions to tune my settings and then I'll put up some video of a print!
UPDATE 10/21/10 Printing officially! Didn't need to take this long, but with work and daily life, it did :)
Pics of the calibration blocks and a turtle I made for my daughter...
This was all in one night, so I'm glad to have gotten this foothold and am ready to say I completed the Mendel!
Now let's make more Mendels...