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This project is about building a 3D printer for rapid prototyping. In contrast to a milling machine the process is additive i.e. the workpiece is built-up layer by layer, usually from thermoplastic material. Different commercial devices exists - needless to say, they are pricey. The goal of a RepRap machine is the ability to print almost all parts it consists of, hence a self-replicating rapid prototyper.


After seing Vik's presentation about how to build a RepRap we've started our own implementation of a RepRap. Then Bre Pettis came by in November 2007 and decided to build a McWire-based RepRap for Roboexotica 2007. In a week. Unfortunately the motor drivers have been blown during exhibition but the revived machine has been sucessfully presented at Robexotica 2008, it even won an award. Metalab inherited Bre's RepRap (yay!) and it's now used as a basis for our own RepRap.

Note: At the moment, what we're building is really a RepStrap which we already use to print parts for our first "real" RepRap.

We for now switched to a CNC that is available at the Metalab for higher speed and accuracy. Our current goal is to initiate a Strain of Lasercut Darwins with more and more printed parts. Also we'd like to improve and maybe mass fabricate the print head because its currently the hardest thing to build and so the main obstacle for RepRap-beginners.

Status (List of Milestones achieved )

Recent progress can be seen at the Metalab RepRap Soup

  • Parts ordered from the RepRap Research Foundation for XYZ axis and extruder boards.
  • XYZ axis is working.
  • We can now also control our CNC machine from the RepRap software using a modified Arduino firmware and a CNC Arduino shield.
  • First version of the extruder is resurrected from Bre's old parts and successfully extrudes HDPE.
  • We can print handcoded objects using a quick and dirty Arduino firmware.
  • GCode firmware is working! The GCode files are at the moment hand-coded.
    • Knowledge Base for the GCode Toolchain accumulating here RepRap/GCode
  • Full pipeline working, tuned parameters for solid objects. Going for replication :) --Wizard23 05:51, 16. Jul. 2008 (CEST)
  • Switched to ABS. Moved extruder to the CNC for high speed and high precision printing.
  • First functional part printed :)
  • We got a NetzNetz Grant!
  • Extruded Extruder is Extruding (first step towards self replication)
  • Using XYZ endstops for automatic positioning

Next Steps

  • Extruder with experimental valve
  • test lower temperatures/higher z spacing for using ABS as support structure
  • unleash the creative potential of mankind

Some remarks

  • we are using OpenSCAD to generate STL files where the units in the STL file are interpreted as mm. In principle we should be able to print any STL files without holes that don't have too much overhang. Even if it has overhangs you can still get good results if the overhang is like a bridge. the RepRap software doesn't care which tool you create the STL in. Exporting an STL is possible in almost any 3d program. Other things i've tried was Wings 3d and Blender (both open source). I did not get far with blender, but wings3d is really usable for simple non-exact stuff.
    • the most important thing to make it printable is that is has a flat base otherwise there is no way to attach it firmly to the base plate.
    • overhangs of more than 50 degrees might be a problem.
  • current setup: layer with 0.24mm. size of filament in X/Y plane about 0.5mm. Walls should be at least two layers (1mm). One layered walls are possible but fragile.
  • Takes ages. Very rough estimate 10-20 min/cm³. But depends on how big the surface is since the inner parts will be sparsly infilled (mostly hollow). But if the surface is big there there might be no inner part and so it takes longer.
  • If people have 3d models they want to print we help them if time permits. Keep in mind that we have to be near the RepRap while it's printing since its not safe enough to leave it alone (we had enough accidents that could have burnt the lab if we had not been around) so don't look for large quantities or large objects.

Our real goal though is to help people who want to build a RepRap themselves since this is the only way to increase our now very limited printing capabilities. --Wizard23 19:16, 23. Dez. 2008 (CET)

Materials in the Lab

  • Two glasses CAPA/Polymorph -> went missing after the camp?
  • A roll of HDPE
  • All necessary boards, electronics and plastic parts for the RepRap and some spare parts