Sunday, October 25, 2009


The RepRap Factory

For some time we have intended to set up a RepRap Factory at Bath consisting of four machines that will be dedicated to printing RepRap parts for others. We shall then sell these on at cost.

This video shows this beginning to come together. We could drive the factory machines off their SD cards, but it is more versatile to drive them off host computers. But we don't want to dedicate one computer per machine.

It turns out to be pretty simple to drive multiple machines off one host computer, especially under Linux. I just set up one account per machine. All the accounts had their own copy of the file. These were identical except for the communications ports, which were set to /dev/ttyUSB0, /dev/ttyUSB1 and so on.

I then just opened a terminal window for each machine in a separate desktop, executed xhost +, did an su to the appropriate users in each window, and ran the RepRap host software. I ended up with one desktop per machine (hint: put the desktops in the same relative places on the screen as the RepRap machines are around the computer to avoid confusion). I could easily control them all.

The bandwidth needed to send the G-Codes to the machines is nothing special, so even my weedy old laptop could keep up.

I'm pretty sure one could do the same trick under Windows using the Run As... utility.

Faster production means more RepRaps...

it's very interesting to learn that there will be a cheap source for reprap parts, so that people can skip the repstrap step of it. any idea how many you'll be churning out per unit time?
This is a great innovation .
I had thought about this as an option for my CNC machines but ruled it outwithout even trying.
I was anticipating having multiple machines for various CNC machines running EMC2.

Thus far for Running Rep Rap I have been using Windows not for much longer!
As I will have a spare computer original built for the Big Bertha CNC and EMC2. As it will all be running on Solar power it will save quite a bit of power.
Excellent! The only thing stopping me getting one up and running is the RP parts, this will be brilliant. Talking to people on IRC I got the impression there weren't enough people making RP parts for many people to finish RepRaps, so more supply means we could end up with an explosion of growth :P I'm looking to start a RepRap club here at Teesside University, but I'm struggling to get my own built as I've never been able to get hold of RP parts.
Most excellent.

Can I put my name down on the list for a set of mendel parts ??


Wow, this is brilliant!
I'll definitely buy a kit off of you ;)
You can run them all from the same user if you dump the gcode file, then use Ralith's gcdump utility to send it to the RepRap using the command line. gcdump takes the serial device as an optional parameter, and multiple copies of gcdump can be run simultaneously by the same user:

Vik :v)

Hi there,
I live in Newcastle and have worked for Teeside for a couple of years.
I did buy a reprap kit from "bits from bytes" a couple of months ago and am planning to build it starting half november.

We could join forces if you are interested.

Claudio Benghi (with a dot in between at googlemail)
It is interesting to note the size difference between Darwin and Mendel.

Any chance you could put an image on the reprap org site itself displaying them side by side, or is it already there and I missed it?

I ask only because it seems very striking to me the evolution/engineering changes occuring. I'd guess RepRap is still Precambrian, no? :)
Please do not use xhost, it is very unsafe and not needed. From the remote machine, connect to the linux machine using ssh -X. If that is not enough, use ssh -Y.
@marco, there is also the "sux" command (apt-get installable on Ubuntu) that allows you to change users yet keep the same X console.

Vik :v)
I think this is fantastic as well. Nice going with RepRap overall. I have been following for quite a while. I finally got the way the bearings ride along the rods, thanks to Ed's great videos and descriptive pictures.
You could use UDEV to give them individual device-names like
"/dev/usb-reprap-left", "/dev/usb-reprap-middle",... so you don't confuse whan reprap is what device.
Please, do keep a public log of the failures of the systems as they go into long-running service. As a process wonk, I'm most fascinated with the future feedback loops of RepRap; in response to failure reports, how can we change the design to mitigate future failures. This starts moving out of the realm of genius-hacker-inventor and into engineer, and I'm happy to see RepRap growing up that way.
Another way to get more parts made would be to ask (require?) people who get a set of parts at cost to build two sets on their machine when it's working and send them back to you for free.

This would produce the necessary doubling of parts with each generation to ensure an ever cheaper and ever more available supply of parts.
You've already proven the RepRap's capability to print upside down. Why not save space by hanging them from the ceiling?
I still await the 19" rack-mount RepRap :)

Vik :v)
Yeah I'll follow aka47 and woofy with a "me too" on wanting to get in line for Mendel RP parts, and I recommend you create some official list so this and future threads don't quickly devolve into hundreds of me-too requests. :)

Steve Baker read my mind, I too was thinking that you should get back at least one set of working RP parts from people you sell them to once their machine is working (or at least some word-of-honor swear that they've printed out 2+ sets of parts and distributed them to friends).

The whole RepRap genealogy idea is a cool one too - I'd love it if 10 years from now my daughter had a RepRap of her own that she could trace back through several versions of mine and then back to the Factory at the top. :)
I don't want to offer people parts (or to start a queue for them) until we've actually got the facility set up and running. I hate it when things are promised and then don't quite deliver (the Sinclair effect...).

Yes - I will try to keep a log of failures and time-outs. That (with the reasons) will be a valuable resource.
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