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A few questions before I purchase a RepRap kit..

Posted by twitch 
A few questions before I purchase a RepRap kit..
May 24, 2013 01:04AM
Hi everyone I will be buying a RepRap kit in the next week or 2 and have a few questions.

First I am looking at these 3 models:

RepRapPro Tricolour Mendel - [reprappro.com]
3Dstuffmaker's Mega Prusa - [www.3dstuffmaker.com]
MendelMax 2.0 - [store.makerstoolworks.com]

And now on to the questions

1. The frame of the Mendel and Prusa are threaded rods and the Max is all aluminum is there a benefit to the Max that would justify that much more cost $400-$500? Is the Mendel and Prusa not that sturdy?

2. Of these which would have the best print quality? or is that a calibration issue...

3. If I go with the Max or Mega Prusa would it be possible to add RepRapPro's 3 color add on kit for 3 print colors or add even 1 more color to it? I would like at least 2 color printing for many reasons - [reprappro.com]

4. I would like to add a LCD setup and SD card slot if the printer doesnt already come with it is there a way to tell if these printers comes with RAMPS 1.4 or not? Also is RAMPS the way to go with these printers? Here is a link to the PanelMax tutorial - [tommyc-reprap.blogspot.com]

5. Which model is better the Mendel or Prusa?

My plan is to build an enclosure out of smoked acrylic around whichever model I choose for dust and heat control. I plan on adding a RGB LED strip for lighting and status display i.e. when printing is finished turn the LED's green or some cool color, when I open the door of the enclosure turn them to white, if the printer has an error turn them red, maybe rainbow fade during printing. you get the picture Id like to know whats going on at a glance. I will be using a RGB LED backlit 20x4 LCD [www.adafruit.com] and will have it do the same.

I would like wireless connectivity from PC to RepRap and will be using 2 XBee's $99 [www.ebay.com] to do this. A tutorial can be found here [julianh72.blogspot.com.au] for those who may be interested. Also debating instead on doing a Raspberry Pi $40 [www.raspberrypi.org] with a 7" HDMI Display $122 [www.ebay.com] for a custom install into the enclosure for local work and remote desktop to the RPi from anywhere in the world and start a print. So for $162 I can have a linux pc built into the enclosure which isnt a bad price at all.

Well let me know what you guys think. This will be one bad ass RepRap once completed. This was my first post I hope I made it count.

Re: A few questions before I purchase a RepRap kit..
May 24, 2013 01:40PM
Wow 53 views and nothing... I would like to add that I will be making a filament extruder so I can make my own out of recycled pla
Re: A few questions before I purchase a RepRap kit..
May 24, 2013 04:16PM
Where to start... well firstly I am currently killing time waiting for my parts to show, so any advice is from the perspective of someone who has purchased a 3d printer, but not actually assembled or printed anything as yet....

1) No idea why the Mendel Max is significantly higher cost. If you are looking for this style nopheads mendel90 or Pruisa i3 might be something you'll find interesting. Kits are available at fairly low prices over at [www.emakershop.com]. Personally I think the delta robot based 3d printers such as the Rostock are also very interesting.

2) You may want to manage down your expectations on print quality, you will probably always be able to tell that an item was 3d printed rather than machined or cast. I am not saying you won't be able to get good results or at least results you are happy with but don't set the bar too high. Calibration will be required, and you will need to tune settings for different materials. I get the impression it is more an art than engineering to get a perfect print every time at the current technology level.

3) No idea, but at a guess I wouldn't expect it to fit straight out of the box, but probably not impossible. Just make sure your electronics/firmware supports the additional motors.

4) I believe reprappro's comes with a melzi board running marlin firmware and has a SD slot already. The firmware certainly supports lcds and people sell Panelolu2 modules (which is a screen, dial and sd card slot) for the hardware, in addition to ramps, sanguinololu and printrboard. So if you want to roll your own it shouldn't be to tricky to add a screen to most of the common electronics available off the shelf for 3d printing.

5) The Mendel Prusa and the Reprappro Mendel are fairly close relatives, so I don't think it is necessarily easy to say which is better as it will be the quality of the hot ends, 'vitamins' and electrons that will make the difference between the two, rather than purely the designs as they are near as dam-it the same machine. - [reprap.org]

As for the rest, go for it. But I would get the printer up and running first before customising too far - itterations are good, do things little and often! Plus once you have the printer going you will be in a better position to make custom parts.

One thing I will say, from laying down the money and waiting 20+/- working days for delivery really does seem painful - you kinda expect it for shipping from china, not so much when you are supposedly buying local...
Is this your first kit? it doesn't sound like it is, but if so, I'd highly recommend looking for a local shop that offers service with the kit.

I purchased my first kit about 8 months ago and went with the a local shop over some other the same/similar kits online because they're about 20 minutes from where I live. I've had a few questions and issues - specifically my heated bed PCB had a dead sector and needed replacement - and having them close was well worth the extra $100 I spent on the front end.

As for print quality, those are all virtually identical in their precision levels.

Print quality really is more art than engineering at this point in time. If you print the same thing 20 times - tweaking settings each time to improve quality - the 20th print will be significantly better in quality. It just takes time and 3-4kg of filament to understand how things need to be printed in order to get great results.

The only other thing I'd recommend from experience is if all things else are equal or nearly equal, go with the kit that has the biggest build envelope.

You can change out components easily - extruders, nozzles, motors, boards, etc - but making your build platform bigger is a pain.

Everything you plan on doing sounds cool/fun, but I've never used a printer with an SD slot that I liked. Being able to adjust settings on the fly with a program like MatterControl (http://www.matterhackers.com/news/introducing-mattercontrol) is really, really helpful - and unless you are supremely confident in your settings, calibrations, and gcode, printing from an SD is going to result in lost prints and lesser quality. So take that for what it's worth.

Good luck with the project.

Post pics when it's done.
Re: A few questions before I purchase a RepRap kit..
May 24, 2013 08:24PM
twitch Wrote:
> Wow 53 views and nothing... I would like to add
> that I will be making a filament extruder so I can
> make my own out of recycled pla

You asked many questions that have been covered before. Many here are in various stages of builds and may not be able to comment. The info about extruded frames vs. rod and fastener frames is readily available. I doubt you'll get many to comment extensively on such a narrow set. Most of the more experienced are building and using DIY Repraps and doing their own development. If you are looking for feedback on various kits search those and see what you come up with. I wouldn't expect the more experienced users to chase those links and give feedback specific to those kits if they haven't used them.

It's well and good you want to enclose the build space, use status leds and wireless. I'd suggest starting with a basic printer and once you learn how to configure it and the various caveats with it then go on to the extra features. On first time builds one of the big hurdles is configuring the machine so you can get reasonable prints. It may take a kilo or so of material until you get it right. Even with the best equipment and skills a first build can be very challenging and frustrating at times. Building it is one thing. Configuring it and getting good prints is another. If you put it in an enclosure and tack extra bits on it right now it's going to make it that much more inconvenient to tune and calibrate the machine for a first time build.

Research the various electronics packages and see which one fits your needs best. Chances are at this stage you could use any of them and do well. As for SD reading, if you aren't going to print in an production type environment you don't need it at first. they are handy when you are doing repetitive parts and you have your parameters configured and tuned so you will know what to expect as a result. The LCD is handy, I used it from the first time I turned the first printer on and use it every time I use the machine. I don't use the SD cards at the moment on either of my printers but I like an LCD on them.

Good luck, have fun.
Re: A few questions before I purchase a RepRap kit..
June 04, 2013 12:41PM

thank you for the links for adding these features. I am interested in learning about adding features too, but I wanted to read up on calibrating and I am very focused on building/calibrating for now. The WiFi and the LED indicators sound interesting. I would love to hook up a webcam and check in on prints eventually.

My RepRapPro Mono Mendel just arrived and I am assembling it now. you can follow along at my tumblr below.

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