Friday, February 22, 2008


Ponoko's Lasercut RepRap

I have something to do while my RepRap is out of action. Toby Borland has done a wonderful design of the RepRap which is meant to be cut on 4mm plywood. He has kindly released the
source, and I've converted an early version of it to the EPS format used by Ponoko on their laser cutting and vending service. We're putting the files up there for free use; we're not taking a cut. Ahah.

I've put up the plywood parts separately to the thick acrylic bed; I'll experiment with a 9mm MDF base but it might be too thin. Toby has since sent me some fixes for the plywood parts - already in EPS format - which I'll work in and scale according to how well the first batch of Ponoko parts fit. The files need optimising to reduce the cutting cost (mostly removing double-cut lines) too. Until that's done, the design should be regarded as pre-alpha and non-functional. As it stands, the ply seems to be slightly thicker than 4mm, so a lot of parts don't fit together properly. Oh yeah, I did muck up the scaling in a few places too - mostly ones that matter!

Prepare for strike two, and props to Ponoko for their support.

Vik :v)

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Amazingly awesome!

One question... how much did it cost? Ponoko doesn't seem cheap.
Ouch. Answered my own question. About $30 in materials, about $260 in laser cutting time. Not counting the Z axis table.
Yup. That's slightly less than a resin kit. But I've got the new files to do and may be able to reduce the cutting costs further.

On the other hand, it might be nice to offer the tabs & slots marked - though that increases cutting costs.

I'll see if I can make it optional.

Vik :v)
Certainly, for someone who happens to already have a laser cutter on hand, this is by far the most economical way to fab yourself a reprap. I just wish laser cutting time wasn't so expensive. I have access to a waterjet, but plywood isn't the best material to cut on it... it's calibrated for steel ;)
Calibrated for steel, you say? Maybe panels like this one (thinner, of course) would fit the bill?
Joel: those could potentially work... I tried cutting some 1/4" acrylic on it not too long ago, and it cut connected lines amazingly well, but any time it had to punch a new hole in the acrylic - to cut out a hole for a bolt for instance - it was used much too much force and blew out chips of acrylic from the other side, and produced some cracks.

A sandwich like that one though, steel on the outside, and soft material (EPS) on the inside, I don't think it would have any problems with.
Hi Vik,
I really enjoyed reading your story, and thank you for writing about us!

Btw, you can follow us here:

Macro Blog -

Micro Blog -

Looking forward to your next installment.

Best wishes,

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