Saturday, December 17, 2011

Beginning with a Prusa Mendel Design

It was early Fall of this year, I was working on a feature film (Spielburg's Lincoln) when I was introduced to 3D printing. My job was to manage the scenic painting of the sets and props of the show. In this particular case, I was given a 3D printed eagle that was to be a component for the Mace of the United States House of Representatives. I was to make the printed plastic look like silver. This kind of task is a very common and simple part of my job, but in this case, it was the first time I was exposed to a 3D printed object. It set my mind into a spin. The possibilities of using this technology for some of my own ideas became the seed for my obsession. I had to acquire this technology for my own use... and do so on a limited budget.

I was surprised to find that there was a DIY movement called RepRap and this project was making the technology available to anyone who had the ambition to source out parts and assemble one.
My initial plan was to build the WhiteAnt 3d printer that is fully documented in the book Printing in Plastic: Build Your Own 3D Printer by Patrick Hood-Daniel.
But after more consideration, I decided to go with the  RepRap project. With the wealth of information online and commercial sites catering to RepRap's needs, it seemed the logical choice for a start. The project's latest design (Prusa Mendel) has been advertised as being a simpler more cost effective 3d printer. Whereas the Whiteant 3d printer (technically a RepStrap design) would require more fabrication and that being mostly out of wood. I decided I wanted to jump quickly into this foray, so the idea of less assembly time really appealed to me not to mention the whole concept of self-replicating machines. After all, the plastic parts of my future Prusa Mendel was fabricated on a Mendel.

I've spent a couple of months reading the blogs and watching YouTube videos published by other RepRap builders. By following the advice of others, I have made my decision as to what modifications to make and which parts to buy. In this case, I've made purchases from 17 different sellers. My primary purchases were from 4. They are:


I also made numerous purchases from eBay sellers, more notably my printed plastic parts and Hong Kong based sellers of gears and bearings.

The best source of ABS and PLA plastic filament is undoubtedly from: 3d Ink

Later blog entries will cover the specifications and modifications of my completed 3d printer.