This device is a Prusa Mendel 3d printer. It is RepRap, meaning that it is open source. I started work in August in 2012, and I am just finishing it now, the only remaining step is to do the fine calibration. The frame is made out of threaded metal rods, and the green supports are made from plastic, and have been fabricated on another 3d printer. It uses a 3d model, which is then turned into a code. That code is sent to an Arduino Mega, which then turns it into movement of the five stepper motors. It moves in three dimension, gliding on threaded rods. The Hot End gets up to 200 degrees Celcius, then plastic is pushed through it, melted, and is formed into the shape. As the motors move, it extrudes plastic layer by layer, slowly making the model that you designed on the computer.
How Did You Make It?
I had originally got this idea after seeing all of the projects on Instructables that I wanted to build that required 3d printing, and I was very jealous, so I built my own! Due to the high price of 3d printers, the whole project was a game to try and spend as little money as possible, and borrow as much as possible from parents. :) I had a lot of fun seeing how I could change the guidelines on how to make these printers to save money and use parts I had at home. The Print Bed is supported by some scrap wood, the electronics are mounted with foam board, among many other little MacGyver tricks in order to save money. I first built the frame, then slowly added on motors, belts and last of all, the heating element.
Where Did You Make It?
This project was made at home, right next to the computer. This project also influenced my school life, especially my grades. (FYI: Good Grades= Parents Helping Fund Projects :) ) It also made me feel like a true Maker, as now I can fabricate the complex parts I need at home, rather than having to duct tape and whittle away at various pieces of found materials to make the part I need.
What Did You Learn?
If I learned one thing from this, it was not to give up. One night, while trying to work out some software bugs, I froze my Mom's work computer for a couple of days, and I thought I would never fix it, but the next day, after many force quits and restarts, I got it working. After I thought it was smooth sailing and I thought I was just about done (like 5 moths ago, LOL) I had an issue that caused the molten plastic to clog up in the heated tip, which caused it to back up all over the desk. Again, Mom was very upset, but I was able to get it worked out. This has taught me that working out the kinks and problem in any project almost becomes a game. You strive to fix a problem, and fixing that uncovers another one, so it must be repeated until you have a final working model. I have had such a great time building and perfecting this machine, if I was to do it again, (and I think I might!) I wouldn't change it much. If anything, I would try to slow it down a bit. I feel like quite a bit of time was wasted fixing silly errors on my part. In the end though, it just adds to the experience.
Thank You for reading this. i have worked hard on this project, and enjoyed it, a vote would be HUGELY appreciated. I am working On getting a basic guide to the Prusa Mendel and the RepRap project made, so if you're interested, check that out when I release it.
Nick H. Age 14