Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile


Starting out

Posted by Anonymous User 
Anonymous User
Starting out
January 08, 2008 11:50PM
Hello, I'm trying to get a RepRap built up. I'm trying get this going at an engineering club at my school, and I've been gathering information on this for the past couple of hours.

But I'm still confused. Like where should I start as far as instructions to building a simple RepRap capable of printing the things out. I've looked at the "darwin" and the "seedling" but I don't quite follow. It says in darwin that it is still under construction, so i'm hesitant to try that, and the "seedling" seems incomplete, and the data for it spread out on different pages. Plus I don't exactly understand the difference between the two.

Maybe I'm just over looking something, over thinking things, or not understanding some key part. But I'm just not quite following on where to begin.

So can I get a simple place to start from, and work my way around? Theres a lot, and it all seems to be packed together. I understand basics, like I've been looking at the various parts, the software (I think it was the software at least) and things of the like.

Thanks in advance. Hopefully this project will work out well. I'm mainly gathering information on the project at the moment, getting things together and making sure I know what I'm getting into.
Re: Starting out
January 09, 2008 01:04AM
If you want to quickly get some sort of 3D printer working quickly and less expensively then try the seedling. However this a more a sideline project as it was/is needed only until there are enough people with Darwin Reprap machines to supply the need for the custom-made plastic parts. It's called seedling as it is designed to be a quick project you can do to get something that will be able to print out the majority of parts needed to make a Darwin. I haven't been involved in it so I can't say how you'd do if you went that way.

The Darwin is the official 1.0 Reprap. The instructions are only incomplete in that they are written by the trailblazers and so may miss a couple of things. I've been doing my best to come along afterwards and point out any 'hole' I fell into and the documentation is improving as more and more people get involved. Its also not quite at the point where anyone can state categorically that they followed the instructions from beginning to end to get a working machine. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to say that in a month or so though :-)

It is rather confusing at first but grit your teeth and dive in.

The best thing to do I've found is to do each part as specified on the Darwin page in order. If you like you can skip the software installation part and just get a hold of a Live CD (download the torrent seed for the .iso from the sourceforge site and just let it run) if you've the bandwidth and/or don't want to change your computer configuration too much.

You'll also find that some parts, especially the electronics, are in a bit of a state of flux and there is an 'official' version and a 'newest' version. Its up to you whether you want to be a tester or not but I like the idea of contributing back to the project by troubleshooting any issues I have with the new stuff.

If I were you, I'd figure out which electronics you want to go with, buy everything at once using the PartsLister and its generated Bill of materials for online stores (you could print it out and go shopping yourself I suppose if you're really keen but I wouldn't do it). Then whilst waiting for them to arrive do more reading of the electronics section and download the LiveCD from bittorrent in the background.

Once you've got the electronics done (it took me a good 6 weekends), take a look at the next thing on the list, the toolheads and cartesian bot.

Basically break it up into bite sized chunks of knowledge that you need then and there but look ahead and try to plan things out in advance.
Re: Starting out
January 09, 2008 03:14AM
I think this is an excellent project for an engineering club as it covers so many topics (software, firmware, electronics, mechanical, chemistry) Reece is correct this is not a complete ready to go project but so much the better for an engineering club as you will have real engineering challenges rather than just following a set of instructions.

This is an excellent and very active forum so getting help is generally no problem.

So I also say dive in the water is warmer than it looks smiling smiley

Re: Starting out
January 09, 2008 04:12PM
Most definitely just go ahead and jump in headfirst. I'm building a Darwin (Thank you Ian for the parts), with a little help from my engineering teacher, and I have learned a whole lot. Yes, i'm only in high school, but if your dedicated I guarantee that the community here is extremely helpful at explaining anything that you don't know, or understand. Oh, BTW, if you are doing this with a club, I recommend getting one of those ultra-cheap mini laptops to use as a dedicated computer for running the RepRap. I got a 4G Asus Eee Pc, and it works pretty well. Though I do plan on upgrading its RAM in the near future. Anyways, good luck in your efforts!

Re: Starting out
January 09, 2008 06:48PM
I'm a little confused about the plastic parts. Where can we get them from? Can the Darwin make them as is? (There are only a couple parts listed on the parts page)

I've installed the software and I'm waiting for the electronics to be delivered.
Re: Starting out
January 09, 2008 08:42PM
Ian Adkins has his store where he sells moulded parts for the Darwin, and there is a lot of discussion going on right now of how to make all of the darwin parts printable

Anonymous User
Re: Starting out
January 09, 2008 09:47PM
Yeah, We'll probably get our parts from lan's site. Right now i'm trying to understand what we will need exactly though. It would be nice if there was some kit along "this is everything you will need."

It says coming soon, but how soon?

Right now, i'm mainly looking at the kits section [bitsfrombytes.com]

What confuses me though, are these 3 kits

*Extruder RP/ Moulded & Hardware Kit
*Extruder Hardware Kit
*Extruder RP/ Moulded Kit

These 3 extruders, do they all have an extruder, but come with different stuff, or what?

Plus, combining all of these kits, what would I be missing anything in particular to produce a darwin? I looked at the parts list, but that is pretty confusing overall to understand.
Re: Starting out
January 10, 2008 01:16AM
Admiral Zombie Wrote:

> What confuses me though, are these 3 kits
> *Extruder RP/ Moulded & Hardware Kit
> *Extruder Hardware Kit
> *Extruder RP/ Moulded Kit
> These 3 extruders, do they all have an extruder,
> but come with different stuff, or what?

The first is everything you need to make an Extruder.
All the bits, of all kinds.

The second is just the non-plastic parts, so you can
add your own set of those (maybe from a friend who
already has a Reprap and made them for you!).

The third is *just* the plastic parts, in case
you can buy the other parts cheaper somewhere but
*don't* have a friend with a Reprap to make the
plastic parts!

If you have nothing (just money!) and want an
Extruder, you would buy the first (the most
complete) kit you listed, and then assemble it.

> Plus, combining all of these kits, what would I be
> missing anything in particular to produce a
> darwin?

Yes. Reprap Darwin is the 3D "Cartesian Robot"
framework, that can move the extruder head around
in 3 dimensions, plus the extruder head (or heads
if you are doing a support extruder too!), plus
the electronics boards (one to control each
stepper motor, X, Y and Z; plus one per extruder head,
plus a PowerComms board to connect them together and to a PC),
plus a spare PC power supply or other source of a healthy
amount of 12V DC power, plus a PC running our host software.

An Extruder is "just" the thingie that squirts out
melted plastic :-) It's in one sense the bit that
makes Reprap unique, that makes the whole idea possible,
so it is perhaps "the key design idea" behind the Reprap.

But, a Reprap Darwin also needs a way to move that extruder
around, and the electronics to control that movement,
and a PC running software to to tell the electronics
where to move it to, and when to squirt melted plastic!

> I looked at the parts list, but that is
> pretty confusing overall to understand.

Yes, "top down" is more likely to help you understand this
thing that "bottom up"! There are so many parts! Start
with the general idea, them move to specifics of each
subsystem as you need to learn them.

Read the main set of pages about building Reprap Darwin
on our Wiki. Read them a few times, if necessary!

I suggest starting at:


and especially read the part about "What order to do things".
Then, well, start "doing things" in the suggested order, and
when you get stuck, ask for more help here in the forums!

So basically, the current recommended approach is:

(1) Get Reprap host software installed and working
(2) Build the electronics and test each board
(3) Build an Extruder and test it
(4) Build the Darwin cartesian robot and test it
(5) Spend a lot of time calibrating and tweaking
(6) If you are successful, you might now have a Reprap Darwin!
(7) Use your Darwin to print parts for another one for a friend

There is almost no-one on the planet with the skills and
knowledge to build a Reprap and get it working, alone. Even
within the core team, most of us don't have that set of
skills, as individuals. Between us... sure we do! Right
now, it takes patience and learning, and asking for help when
you need it. But it *has* been done, you are not the first
person to build a Reprap ... and this community really is
pretty helpful.

[ BTW, right now, no-one has completed (7) above! Using a
Darwin to print even one part of a Darwin is a *huge*
success at this point! ]

Welcome to Reprapping!


Re: Starting out
January 10, 2008 03:43AM
I am working on the Kit every spare moment as there seems to be a lot of interest. I hope a kit of all parts except the electronics to be ready next week with complete kits electronics included end of Jan early Feb.

Sorry for the confusion with the listings we are going to try to improve the web site soon but concentrating on get bits to people at the moment!

Jonathan is right basically you want the "Extruder RP/ Moulded & Hadware Kit for all parts for an extruder, the RP/ Moulded parts kits has all parts that will be made by the RepRap.

A good starting point would be RP/ Moulded parts kit, Steel frame kit (shipping is expensive on this kit as quite heavy) 3off stepper motors, extruder hardware kit. This will get you a basic Cartesian frame or wait a week for a complete hardware kit which will included all the little bits nuts bolts etc.

Re: Starting out
January 10, 2008 11:58AM
> or wait a week for a complete hardware kit which will included all the
> little bits nuts bolts etc.

Thanks Ian! And perhaps you'll bulk-ship a few tens of such kits across to Zach for the RRRF store, or something, for people on this side of the Atlantic? That's between you and Zach, but IMO it would be great if something like that could be worked out.

Admiral: If you follow the suggested order to do things in, it will almost certainly take you more than a week of evenings (unless you are working on this full time?!) to get the host software running, and then build and test all the electronics. So, by the time you are ready for extruder and cartesian robot hardware, it sounds as though Ian will have a complete hardware kit ready to go :-)


Anonymous User
Re: Starting out
January 10, 2008 03:39PM
when you say the "host software running" we already downloaded the live CD or whatever. We basically just boot the PC from the CD drive currently, and things seemed to of worked. We fiddled around with the 3-D program, art of illusion or something, and ran the reprap program.

So unless the "host software running" is something more than what I'm expecting, i'm not too worried about that.

We're probably going to order the electronic hardware in the near future, and we were talking about making our own personal support system (I saw somewhere someone who simply just had some wood and such).

Thanks for the support so far
Re: Starting out
January 10, 2008 05:41PM
Admiral Zombie wrote:

> We're probably going to order the electronic
> hardware in the near future, and we were talking
> about making our own personal support system (I
> saw somewhere someone who simply just had some
> wood and such).

OK; FYI, that is not a Reprap Darwin you would end
up with, if you go in that direction.

You specifically asked about creating a Darwin, so
that's what I set out a path towards for you. Going
for a (possibly simpler) Repstrap made from wood
initially is fine, but it's useful to be clear about
what you are trying to build :-)

There is a Glossary on the main [http://reprap.org] page
that tries to explain, saying:

* RepRap - n. any open-source rapid prototyping machine
that can manufacture a significant fraction of its own
parts; v.t. (in lower case: to reprap) to make something
in a RepRap machine.

* RepStrap - n. any open-source rapid prototyping machine
that doesn't make its own parts, but is intended to make
parts for a RepRap; v.t. (in lower case: to repstrap) to
make something in a RepStrap machine.

Since your machine will not be extruding wooden parts (!),
a 3D FDM (extruding) fabber made from wood can't reasonably
qualify for being a Reprap, never mind a Darwin, which is
one specific design of Reprap (the one we as a team are
working on at the moment!).

Descriptions of Darwin and Mendel are at the FuturePlans
wiki page, [reprap.org] .


Re: Starting out
January 11, 2008 07:15PM
I'm a friend of Admiral.

Understood that the purpose of the Reprap/Darwin is to be constructed with materials that can be made from the machine to make a new one, self-replicate and such.

Considering we don't have any machine that could fab parts at the moment, the goal is really to get a functioning machine at the least cost possible. Considering that the steel frame, purchased from Ian would cost about $273, we'll likely need to fashion our own steel frame, not likely wood, but it's an idea. So perhaps technically this would be termed a RepStrap, but personally I'm not terribly concerned with semantics. With that said, you've been of great help so far Jonathan and it's very much appreciated.

It's interesting that you say nobody has yet printed all the parts for a Darwin.
Re: Starting out
January 12, 2008 03:45AM
The steel frame kit is closer to $100 it's the shipping that's a real killer due to the weight the steel rods weigh over 6kg if in the US local sourcing of the steel rods would be cheaper it all depends on our access to engineering facilities, the RP parts workout much cheaper for shipping as only weigh 1.6kg, that been said there are some mighty fine wood RepStraps out there it's all down to available time, skill sets and facilities.

We are trying to make the project as accessible as possible regardless of a persons skill set and if anyone knows a cheaper way to get bits over the water i would love to know!

Re: Starting out
January 12, 2008 11:38AM
Steel Frame Kit Subtotal:
Re: Starting out
January 13, 2008 04:54AM
Cost reduction suggestions:

(1) If you are desperate to save money, don't use an overseas supplier, especially for heavy steel parts -- buy locally! In the USA you'll have to work quite a bit harder to find all the "metric" steel parts at a local hardware store, and may end up visiting several such stores and some auto parts stores and a steel merchant or two (other creative local sources may also work -- post in the forums about what works for you in your area!) ... but when you do the work and find local sources, the total cost for the steel parts will be considerably lower than US$273, pretty much guaranteed :-)

(2) You don't actually need all the RP-ed parts yet either, you could wait and see whether someone near you can use their Reprap or Repstrap to print them for you, at very low cost, by the time you really need them. Or, not quite so radical maybe, get just a set of extruder parts first and get that working, which gives you time to find money for the rest of the RP-ed parts!

Do read the info on the suggested order of doing thing on our Wiki, and you'll see that buying RP-ed parts is not the first step :-) Costs for those are going down, and options for obtaining them are going up, as the project gains momentum. So delaying that purchase a few weeks or months (until you are really ready for it) could save you money.

Note: We're not (yet) at the "buy a kit, follow the instructions, bingo, you now have a working RepRap" stage. We're getting somewhat closer than we were even a few months back -- but we're not there. Allow a LOT of time for assembly and testing!

My opinion: Generally speaking, kits are all about convenience and being willing to pay something for that convenience. If you have more time than money... try to source your parts yourself instead. Conversely, of course, if you realize that assembling one of these Reprap gadgets is going to take substantial time, and you lack time, but have money... then spend money buying a complete kit, to save your (limited) time chasing down parts!

The "best" option for how to move forward and where to buy parts is going to vary depending on the circumstances of each (wannabe) Reprap constructor!


Anonymous User
Re: Starting out
January 14, 2008 11:57AM
Well since this is with a school, we gotta have justifications and a lot of other crap. The main problem with this is that we have to get all of our information together, and get the price of everything down. We already know to bump it up some and whatnot for things that might possibly break, etc. But we are mainly working on the money side of things at the moment.

Because this is a school group I doubt they'll be keen on buying from random joe who lives somewhere in the area, so we do have to buy from somewhere more official. The price isn't THAT important, but we do need to get it down if possible, and we need to find out how much things are going to cost.

Thanks a lot so far.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login