My wive wanted to give me the first kit for a RepRap Mendel for Christmas. She was really sorry that the kit didn’t make it under the tree, as it was sold out. I was excited about the Project for more than a Year, but it was too expensive to just give it a go. Some of these projects that seem very interesting fade away with the time, or cheaper alternatives apear as it happened with the quadro copter, but the RepRap didn’t go out of my mind. So, Mirella gave me the first kit, and from here, I will build it step by step.
For those who don’t know what a reprap is: That’s a very cheap (compared to the alternatives) rapid prototyping machine for home use. Actually, it’s not cheap in absolute terms… People also call it 3d printer. At the moment they are still experimental, and you probably have to be a geek to want one. But it could well be, that they spread like regular paper printers in a few years. Essentially, you can design some part on the computer, and print it in plastic. People share their designs on thingiverse.com free for others to copy. There you get a good Idea, of what it’s about.
Mid March the parts of the kit finally arrived. With a few evening’s work, I assembled the basic frame. Instead of the usual printed plastic parts, she ordered a kit with laser cut wooden parts from the German RepRap Foundation. I didn’t even know that option existed before. The functionality seems the same and it’s cheaper than the printed parts. So, now I have a basic frame with smooth running X, Y and Z axis.
The next step will be the electronics. I didn’t like the cabling of the standard gen 3 electronics from grrf. On the main reprap.org site, there are many options described for the electronics. I found the idea of the RAMPS and it’s variations very good, as it uses standard components, and not so many separate boards that have to be connected by cables. Generation 6 looks very nice and clean, but I would be afraid of blowing one stepper driver and breaking the whole board or having to solder SMD. Then I found the gen 7 electronics. That’s what I ordered. It uses the same pololu stepper drivers as the ramps, looks nice and clean and is all on one board. As a nice benefit, it’s reprappable with a blank pcb and a dremel.
To get the right stepper motors is a bit difficult at the moment. They are sold out on most sites because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The right steppers don’t seem to be available in Switzerland at all. I was thinking about trying a weaker motor that appear to fit the specs, but that noone seems to have tried. But then www.mendel-parts.com opened their web shop again saying they would close it as soon as they have too many orders again. So, I ordered immediately.