RepRap + SPaRC

RepRap Prusa Mendel Project (initial post)

My budget/proposal was approved yesterday, so today I begin working on building a RepRap Prusa Mendel. The RepRap is a “Self-Replicating Rapid Prototyping Machine”, otherwise known as a three-dimensional printer. The project will be funded by Auburn University’s Student Projects and Research Committee (AU SPaRC), thanks to the very generous donations by Julian and Dorothy Davidson, and by Charlie and Jane Stringfellow. We are quite gracious for your support!

I will update this site often with the project’s progress, as well as the AU SPaRC website (hopefully!). For more information on the RepRap and on the project itself, keep reading after the break.

Here is an except on what RepRap is about, from the RepRap Wiki Main Page:

RepRap is a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap can print those parts, RepRap is a self-replicating machine – one that anyone can build given time and materials. It also means that – if you’ve got a RepRap – you can print lots of useful stuff, and you can print another RepRap for a friend…

The idea behind this project is to build a self-replicating rapid prototyping machine known as the RepRap Prusa Mendel. This machine uses melted extruded plastic to “print” a three-dimensional object, layer by layer. It can print objects up to 8” wide x 8” deep x 5.5” tall, while taking up less than three cubic feet of lab space (It can fit on a small desk), and could become an invaluable tool for robot mockups, plastic housings and mounting parts for projects, or fundraising/recruiting.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this machine is that it is engineered to be able to print most of the parts used to build it. This self-replication idea allows for easier and cheaper replacement parts and even multiple copies if others wish to build a RepRap for themselves.

The Mendel Prusa RepRap is also low-cost compared to the thousands and even tens of thousands spent on the commercial 3-D printers available today. The overall cost for constructing the initial RepRap can be around $450-$500, while each additional RepRap (for personal use, or for other labs) can be sourced for less than $400. The PLA and ABS plastics used for printing can be found for around $15/lb. The initial estimated cost breakdown can be found below:

RepRap Project Initial Cost Estimates

RAMPS Electronics$177.00
Hot End$75.00
Stepper Motors$73.00
RepRapped Plastic Parts$80.00

Being engineers that rely on creating prototypes, mockups, models, and parts, having a 3D printer would present many opportunities to better our processes and projects with some of the newest available technologies.

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