Sunday, March 25, 2012


Around the Community 03/25/12

Printrboard is now available ($130, $145 shipped to the US)

Printrbot has created their own all on board branch of the Teensylu.  I have not tested it, nor have I seen it in the wild yet, but the reason I bring it up is it's price/features.  $145 puts it at a very close second to the Gen6 by MakeMendel for $140, shipped to the US.  I think this set of electronics does have advantages over the slightly cheaper MakeMendel Gen6:

Fan driver
Heated Build plate control control
Built in SD card reader
Molex style connectors (.1" connectors can drive you crazy)

Pocket Printer has arrived

D Kennell posted this beauty on Thingiverse, I am a sucker for extruded aluminum and Brustruders (I did design the 1st one so what do you expect?).  This looks like the dark Cthulhu spawn of a ORD, Thingomatic, and Mendelmax  I can't find  video of this printing yet but man its awesome looking little bot?  I can't wait to see more out of the development.

Pronterface update for Windows & Mac!

If you like me and have a non Linux computer, or don't like to compile from the Github, today is the day you have been waiting 3 months for.  Kliment has compiled a new version of Pronterface for Windows and Mac.  In this update Pronterface gains

-Experimental projector stuff: The folks over in the Lemoncurry SLA RepRap channel are using Pronterface to control the projector between layers.  Kliment has made this functionality part of the main branch of Pronterface.

-Temp graph:  With the troubleshooting I do in the RepRap IRC, I find a lot of people have very poorly tuned PID settings (swings of 10C are way more common than they should be).  One easy way to get people to fix it is to put a temp graph on in the host software.  Unfortunately PID tuning can be a bit of a pain, fortunately EvdZ has added AutoPID tuning to Marlin..
-Slic3r as default (and bundled):  Slic3r is my preferred Gcode generation software for RepRap, and Kliment has integrated it into Pronterface from the start.  With Slic3r if you have all 4 of your axis calibrated, and give it the proper Filament/Nozzle diameter, you should get almost perfect prints out of the box.  Of course getting people to properly calibrate before using their magic machine is like pulling teeth!

Marlin Firmware adds Auto PID tuning

PID is what controls the way your firmware flutters the power to the Hot End of your 3d printer to keep the temperature even.  Unfortunately it's not as easy as just turning the power on when too low and off when too high (Which is for the most part how Hot Bed are controlled), because if you do that you end up with a HUGE 20-40C swing in your nozzle temp.  Most people with untuned PID settings are only getting 5-10C swings but for good quality prints the temp needs to stay dead on one temp or the qualities of the plastic will randomly change during a print.  There are some good guides out there for PID tuning, but no matter what it requires a bit of algebra and experimentation to get it right. 

EvdZ has added a Gcode command called M303 to Marlin.  What this does is when you enter M303 in the Pronterface terminal Marlin will automatically start raising the temp of your nozzle to 150C.  It will then
try to calculate the PID settings that best match what your hardware is achieving.  Be sure to let it run its cycle 4-5 times before you write down the values, because each time it calculates the PID it live updates to the new PID, bringing you closer to perfect PID tuning.

After each rotation of calibration if will give you a value for the Kp, Ki and Kd using a standard, some overshoot, or no overshoot profile.  You then load the copy of Marlin you have on your computer, open Configuration_h, search the word "PID", and change the values for Kp, Ki, and Kd to the new values of your choice (EvdZ suggests some overshoot for faster warming of the nozzle), compile and reupload.

When I did this I went from having a 3C variation (I know, here I am wearing an admin feather ha5 and have a 3C temp variation on my hot end... bad me), to having a .1C variation +&- of the value requested.

MiniMax by Lulzbot

Lulzbot (which posts things to Thingiverse as AlephObjects ) has developed a Mendel sized alteration of the Mendelmax format.  Honestly my Mendelmax uses All the RP parts from MiniMax with the extrusion lengths of a Mendelmax.  Lulzbot is not going to be selling a kit for this machine, but selling it fully assembled.  But like any company I love they are following the release early and often philosphy.  If your like me and love self sourcing printers all the parts to assemble this bot in it's current state have been posted to Thingiverse.  Jebba assures me that the design is no where near done, they have some more work they want to do on the Z axis, but they will continue to post the STL for the upgrade to Thingiverse.  They have been getting Ultimaker + X/Y speeds & zero Z wobble on this machine.  I can't wait till they post a video of that!

Resin print by Arthur Wolf

It's truly amazing to see how fast the DIY SLA group is progressing in the Lemon Curry IRC.  It seems that you can get faster development when Resin is $40 a quart.  After asking Joe Moe/practicing01 who had the best print quality I was shocked to see this print by Arthur.  That's a lot of progress for 1 week!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Standardization and RepRap

Brian Benchoff of HackaDay wrote a great article expressing his opinion of what is wrong with RepRap.  He made some very interesting points.

As one of the 20ish Admins that he seems to be interested in vesting with power over the future of Reprap, I figured I should respond to his coronation.  I try very hard to be 100% positive on this blog since Adrian was nice enough to get my keys, so my response is over at my personal Blog where i an be a bit more blunt.

But to sum it up quickly, RepRap is 100% controlled by those that do, not those that dictate.  Adrian, and the Admins try to exert as little control over this community as we can, and to date that has been effectively none. 

The front page of the Wiki is pretty self explanatory, if you don't know what to build, build a Prusa (Every RepRap listed on the front page has some basic instructions and has printed before so no reason to get rid of them).  We refuse to pick a commercial provider that is the "official" RepRap because there is no way for that to be fair.  IMHO the "official" RepRap is find a friend/org who owns a 3d Printer, hang out at their place for 14-20 hours and print your own, or bribe them with a few cold drinks to print it for you.  Find the components you like, and build your self one for $400-$700.

Enough of that, now back to those awsome people that really run RepRap, the devs.

Smoothie Electronics / Firmware

For some people an Arduino is just not going to cut it, they need to feel the power of an ARM Cortex M3 to feel truely happy.  Smoothie firmware and electronics have been in active beta testing for many weeks now and it looks like  will actually make his Juneish timeline for his Smoothieboard.  If you want to join him in the beta testing, Arthur and his team have put together a breadboard version of their electronics you can test now on your RepRap, Lasercutter, or CNC.

DLP-Based Resin RepRap, ohh and $40 a Quart Resin!

ScibbleJ did a great write up on a DIY DLP Projector based resin 3d Printer he has been working on.  You might wonder why RepRap, an org based around accessible 3d printers would be intersted in a printing technology that requires $400 a liter printing solution, well part of the reason is Bucktown Polymers (started by A2Sheds, developer of the Lemon Curry DLP based Resin Printer) is selling Resin for DLP printing for $40 a quart.  That's almost as cheap as PLA!

To give you an idea of what this form of 3d Printing could look like once it matures... check this out:

Different project entirely but that's what the goal is.  Ohh isn't the future grand!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Around the RepRap Community 03/15/12

Wait 3 months for an update, then 3 days?  Sorry Some times things are so cool, and not published about I have to update you guys.  I LOVE RepRap.

All I can say is I hope he had eye protection.  Any person that has ever used a high power laser must have jumped behind their desk chair when they saw a UV laser pointed at a shiny plate like that.  But beyond that, WOW that is awesome!  Alan Mckierman has more of his stuff over on his blog.  I have not seen any videos/posts since his post in January, hope he is not in the burn unit!

Moineau Paste Extruder with Porcelain Clay

Claire Warnier and Dries Verbruggen, the founders of Unfold based in Antwerp, Belgium have posted a video of their modification of the Moineau Paste Extruder on YouTube.  I have never seen a paste extruder that gives that consistent of a bead.  I can't wait till they post more details about their modifications. Bot Farm Bot Farm
RepRap Bot Farm/Gardens  Around the World

One of the best things about RepRaps is you can run as many RepRap as you want off one Laptop, and if you have an LCD and SD card reader on a machine you can run them with no computer at all.  Adrian Bowyer has in the past compared RepRap to Chickens, but honestly no chicken coop is as fun to watch as a "flock?" of RepRap.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Around the RepRap Community 03/12/12

Marlin 1.0 

Marlin has finally reached ver1.0!  The list of improvements is is too long to mention.  Marlin is the firmware out there that gives you the most control over every aspect of your RepRap.  Marlin can leave you a bit overwelmed because it gives you so much control of every aspect of your bot, but his can be mediated by using Daid's great web app for setting up Marlin.  From what I have seen Marlin works great on almost any machine you throw at it.  Marlins specialty is dealing with Bowden cable extrusion.

*Sorry I goofed the name at first Daid!  Would figure the name of the website would be enough of a hint!

Credit RichRap who writes a great blog and is selling his RepRap on Ebay!

Sprinter Firmware gets Look ahead!

Marlin might be the firmware for RepRap with every knob exposed, Sprinter is one of our most stable/easiest to work with firmwares out there.  Kliment, the maintainer of Sprinter has accepted a pull request that puts look ahead into Sprint Firmware under the experimental branch.  All the beauty of look ahead firmware with the eaes of use of Sprinter.  Fun!


Printrbot, and it's earlier released cousin Wallace have really made a spash, and finally Brook and his team at Printrbot have opened their store.  On offer they have a $550 RepRap kit, which puts them at the lowest cost RepRap kit in the world to my knowledge.  Congrats guys and good luck!

A small note, The Wallace/Printrbot design does reduce the cost of a  RepRap by around $50 dollars by reducing the frame reinforcements.  While at low speeds this is not a concern, at higher speeds, and especially at higher speeds and higher Z axis positions this can significantly reduce build quality.  But on the other side of things if you purchase the Printrbot kit, and wish to upgrade the machine it should be no more complected than purchasing more fasteners/rods/belts and transferring the motors/hot end/electronics and some of the RP parts to a full sized Prusa or MendelMax.  

Second note I have seen no independent reviews of the electronics or Hot end yet, so unless you like living on the edge I would hold off on a purchase until the Hot end/Electronics have had time to be kicked around by the community.

RepRap Build Parties Around the World! (Above is a time lapse of the Party in Berlin this month)

RepRap build parties are getting more and more popular, with them happening all over Europe and the US.  These are hugely popular because it's a win for all involved.  For a person getting involved with RepRap they get a RepRap for just a bit more than the normal price to self source one ($400-$650), ease of assembly, plus support from start to finish.  I have yet to see the build party that didn't have the vast majority of particepents leave with a fully calibrated and assembled machine.  For the people putting them on they usually make enough to compensate all involed and have a 3 day robot party.

Slic3r 0.7.1 Released

The development pace for Slic3r has been amazing.  If you sit in the Slic3r IRC you are likely to get an auto update for 3 or more major updates PER DAY.  The Changes to this software since my last update 3 months ago are amazing to behold.  Added at this point are Support Material, Dual Extrusion, Cooling logic, 3 upgrades to the slicing engine (It's now as or more tolerant than Skeinforge), AMF support, Makerbot/Mach3 support, Multithreaded (that's right it's EVEN faster), thinwalls, etc etc the list just goes on and on.  If you have not tried slic3r PLEASE try it today.  His software is of course free like speech, but he takes donations :)

Wiki Front Page Update

How do you be fair on the front page?  What is a real RepRap?  Should you allow commercial RepRap on the front page?  If anyone can sell RP parts online, is there really a such thing as a non commerical RepRap?  How different does a design half to be for it to count as a fully seperate branch of ReRap?  At what point should a RepRap design be called deadish?  Is it better to only have 3-4 RepRap on the front page at a time for 3-4 hundred?  Who decides what order?  .............

When I took on trying to update the front page of our Wiki to add MendelMax (Because I thought it was a shame that Prusa was very popular for many months before we got it on the front page), and I wanted to add Wallace/Printrbot also (even though I HATE the sacrifice of print quality to save 50ish dollars), I didn't realize it would be so contentious.  Sad thing is I find myself agreeing with both sides of all the above issues and have no clue of a fair way to handel the front page.  I draw the line that the front page MUST, have RepRap Pro Huxley, Prusa, MendelMax and Wallace/Printrbot.  The issue is that Printrbot, MendelMax, and RepRap Pro Huxley are all "commercial" designs that are pretty close to non commercial designs... how do we say yes to them and Not also have Longboat Prusa, Luzlbot Prusa, Ifeelbeta Prua, Clonedel Prusa, etc etc also up there, and then by all things reasonable how do we put them in a fair order?  I don't know, would love to know if the community has a simple fair way around this problem. 

Mendel90 STLs released by Nophead

Nophead has been teasing the community for weeks with his Mendel90 design.  It's finally been released for your printing pleasure.  It's printed mass is a little higher than Prusa and a little lower than Mendelmax.  Will be interesting to see how popular this design becomes!  Thanks Nophead!

Note Nophead has released the source! (Thanks jamesmoe from the IRC).

You had my wife at Chocolate Extruder 

There are a few paste extruders out there for RepRap, but non that I have seen to date have integrated heating for the substrate, which is pretty epic.  I am holding off on printing this one till I get my MendelMax with quick release extruder finished, but honestly I am excited

The Printer with No Name

Rick Pollack, the man behind the MakerGear Prusa and Makergear Mosaic has came up with a new design for a Printer.  At 1st glance I really though it was a knockoff of a Wallace/Printrbot, but he was actually working on it before either came forward (And when you look closer, while it might have the same general shape, it's approach at ever corner is drastically different).  He is trying to determine if the community would be interested in this as a commercial product, or even as just a RepRap.  Why not go over to his IRC and let him know what you think?

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