In the past months I have gathered the different parts needed to build a Repstrap/low cost cnc machine, and recently I finally had time to start building the machine!

Reprap/Repstrap, what is that again ?

Of course, not everyone might know what a reprap/repstrap is :  the official site has a very good explanation here , and the wikipedia article is quite complete aswell .

Basically its an open source 3d printer , ie, just like you can print text with a standard printer, with this type of device you can actually print (generally plastic) objects!

I could go on for ages about the endless possibilities of such machines , the more you know and think about them, the more you see what they are able to do , even at the relatively early stage in their development, the more amazed you’ll become !

3d printers have actually existed for quite a while,  but they were very expensive , commercial, and closed (as in not open source), they have just become accessible for us mere mortals in the last few years, and their evolution , the different experimentation people are doing with them, are quite staggering.

A RepStrap works along the same lines as a Reprap, minus the self replication, and a generally different type of structure/construction.


Why do you even need such a device?

Many reasons actually !

  • For more and more of my projects, i have been needing specific parts which are either not easily obtainable , too expensive, or simply do not exist (things of my own design etc).
  • Building such a machine teaches about a lot of different fields: stepper motor control, mechanical engineering, specific programming etc
  • You might have seen me mention my interests in biology and biochemistry and bioinformatics :there has been a lot of research going on in printing replacement organic tissue or even organs! no , i kid you not : here is a video about this aspect of 3d printing : www.youtube.com/watch?v=80DhBLEhdzk depending on how things go, this is definitely an area i will explore

What is this “YARP” you are talking about ?

YARP” is for “Yet Another Repstrap Project” , since well, everyone loves pirates, Simon Pegg, and there are a lot of different type of repstraps already.

It is actually going to be a cnc machine aswell : in the first stages, before i build/buy the plastic extruder, that will be its main function to be precise.

It started out with these objectives :

  • modular design, to enable me to test different approaches to the axes (rod, belt driven, different axis configurations etc)
  • i also wanted to keep it as low-cost as i could
  • and  somewhat”eco-friendly” (promoting reuse of old equipment etc) although, as you’ll see in a future article, reusing pieces of old hardware can make things a bit complicated and less reliable

To sums things up, a little Fact sheet :

  • The electronics are generation 1 , from a German Reprap shop ( chicken and egg problem: I had no way to create circuit boards )
  • all of the stepper motors and most of the mechanical parts are salvaged from old printers ( this imposed certain limitations of course , since I had to make do with what I had on hand )
  • Estimated costs : around 150 euros
  • Build area : W:200 x L:200 x H:80 mm
  • Construction time so far : 3 weeks
This is the first post in a series, as i intend to increase the number of my articles, and this specific project was very iterative, so expect news on this front, quite often!
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