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Link to main State College RepRap page:


My name is Tom Stewart and I am currently a super senior industrial engineer at Penn State who plans on graduating in December of 2013. I enjoy making tasty jams on my drum set, being physically active whenever it's necessary, and riding my bike on mountains. I heard about 3D printing only two years ago and have been infatuated ever since. At first I was intimidated by the visual complexity of the RepRap printers but once I started to get my hands dirty I felt like a kid again playing with Lego's with 3D printing capabilities. Get involved, it's one of the only classes at Penn State where you get graded for having fun.


This section will be reserved for weekly blogs with various prompts given by the course instructor.

Blog One

Beautiful: Horse Head

A) Something that is beautiful

In my opinion the horse head statue demonstrates an amazingly beautiful 3D printed sculpture. It looks to be solely decorative but for good reasons. The detail and complexity of the design are two aspects that caught my immediate attention. It is also amazing because of the size of the design and it was successfully printed without (or very minor) print defects. The .stl file can be downloaded [ here.

Strange: Silverware Holder

B) Something that is funny/strange

I can see where a device like this would be useful but the design is surely flawed, if you notice from the picture. It is strange that the creator chose to build the silverware holder with the points of the forks and knives pointing up. Openly exposed edges such as these ones can be a serious risk in the kitchen, especially with the high risk of spills that can occur on a kitchen floor. A design like this would be better used if it contained utensils like serving spoons, spatulas, rubber scrapers, and other cooking tools with round and harmless exposed features. I consider myself a person who has always had a good sense of coordination who would not casually swipe my hand across an area with exposed knives, but accidents happen so there is no reason to bring forth that risk when there are safer and equally as efficient ways to store silverware. The .stl file can be downloaded here.

Useless: Day of the Week Yard Display

C) Something useless

There are many other ways to remind yourself what day of the week it is, and this item is an eye sore in the garden. I don't think an item resembling a calendar is ideal for a garden because there is no correlation, it seems very random and kind of looks like birth control pill organizer. This item could have other uses, or been a little more specific because it only tells you the day of the week, no month or day of the month. Adding this design to a garden as a yard decoration definitely does not seem ideal, and the owner might occasionally forget to switch the days which defeats the purpose of having it in the first place. The .stl file can be downloaded here.

Useful: Gear Shift

D) Something useful

Being able to print devices like this one here are in my opinion why additive manufacturing is the new age industrial revolution. If industrial manufacturing companies become reliant on the capabilities of 3D printing to create their parts it is safe to say this new rapidly growing technology has solidified its spot as a new style of manufacturing industrial parts. The .stl file can be downloaded here.

Best Rasberry Pi Case

E) Best Rasberry Pi case

Searching through the various Rasberry Pi cases that people have made, I found this one to be the most clever with a relatively simple design. With a case like this one, the designer also still has room for artistic originality. An N64 game label could be created on the front cover but it does not need to be limited to this. Many other creative designs could be capable to put on the front cover. One good thing that might also be useful is to design the name of each separate Rasperry Pi device so they can easily be told apart. But aside from the artistic freedom, the dimensions and housing of an N64 case will work out comfortably with the Rasberry Pi units. The .jpeg file can be found here.

Blog Two

It is hard to believe that additive manufacturing has been around for two decades and it has only recently started to make a large buzz in the manufacturing industry. This is because certain industrial markets started to use 3D printed parts as final products in their manufacturing process. In the past parts have only been printed as prototypes hence the name "rapid prototyping" but research and technological advancements are proving that prototypes are no longer the main focus. This is a huge milestone for additive manufacturing because with successful penetration into industrial markets will bring forth a surge of repeating business with companies who are willing to significant amounts of money for 3D printed parts. These prices that companies are agreeing to pay however are still much less than what they are use to in the past. Specialized machining is not necessary for parts that are made via additive manufacturing because the printers are capable of producing parts with intricate designs in a matter of hours. One industry that has been really taking advantage of the benefits of additive manufacturing is the aerospace industry. Stratasys has been successful with their Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology in creating parts that have good temperature, ultraviolet, and chemical resistance as well as having the specifications to pass FST regulations. This is allowing the aerospace industry to produce parts at a low volume but they are being used for several different applications. This is crucial for additive manufacturing because companies will see that 3D printed parts are being used as final parts in certain industries which will provide the drive to get involved in additive manufacturing so they can remain a successful competitor in the corresponding industrial sector. Companies are becoming more intrigued in the advancements being made so they are having parts printed for them or even purchasing their own equipment in order to stay competitive in their market by partaking the most innovative and cost efficient manufacturing processes.

Blog Three

I was very intrigued by Leo Funk's second blog as I am currently working on a project for a class that involves expanding the 3D printing network within the Penn State community. I agree with Leo when he talks about how unavailable 3D printing can be unless if you’re associated with company or organization. Many people do not realize how common it is becoming and the capabilities of 3D printing only keeps growing with time. A resource such as 3D Hubs is an excellent thing for the world of additive manufacturing because not only does it connect people with an interest or need for 3D printing but it also spreads the knowledge of availability. One thing Leo mentioned briefly I thought to be a significant about 3D Hubs is the fact that its purpose is to put 3D printing into the hands of everyone. This could obviously be crucial for the advancements of additive manufacturing because if more people know about it and realize how much it is being used then it has the potential to become the norm, which is a good thing. Once people start viewing 3D printing as a normal part of life that is when it will become implemented into more businesses since more people trust its capabilities and see the various uses of additive manufacturing. Spreading the word and gaining more exposure is exactly what additive manufacturing needs, currently people are either unaware or uncertain and the only way to defeat those thoughts is to make it a more prominent aspect of our society.

After looking through Pat Mangen's blog, I enjoyed what he had to say in his posts but I wish he would have kept his commentary consistent in blog #1. From a reader’s perspective I think it would have been in Pat’s best interest to provide pictures and comments about the various designs that he believed fit into the respective categories. I find it to be slightly annoying to have to relocate to another web page in order to understand what he is talking about. He provided a comment about one of the items he found but for some reason did not do that with any other category, which is inconsistent and does not seem to be complete.

I enjoyed the blog of Dimitar, I thought his layout was quite organized and he also cares about its upkeep since he took advice from other classmates on how to make his blog look nice. His first blog’s layout is very convenient and easy to read. I like how he made the category the link to Thingiverse and had each design in its own box, and he also provides a short description of why he believes that design fits the category. In his second blog I also enjoy how he gives his own advice on how to make his interest come to life, this shows that he has put thought into a design previously and is sincere about infatuation with a 3D printer and scanner as one unit.

Blog Four

The following commentary is referring to this video:

Whenever Adrian Bowyer, David Cuartielles and their team created the Arduino technology then decided to make it open source was probably a questionable decision to some, but in their minds, there was no other option. They valued the advancements of the technology more than they did the possible financial gains. They knew however, that as the technology spread then certain business opportunities to make money would fall into place. In the video they talked about companies like Google and Firefox giving away their main product for free then getting involved in certain side ventures which make the companies money so they can continue improving their work. David’s team was very interested in seeing the possibilities for the Arduino which could be achieved by making it available to the world. People started doing things with it that they had never thought of which is in part what they were hoping for. This can be considered a risky business plan since most business have their own patents and intellectual property so people can only get that specific product or service from that specific company. The Arduino team figured that their product could become much more prominent and useful if everyone where to have access so they can assist in making it better and broadening the scope of possible uses.

If I were part of their team I would have been a little skeptical at first to give our technology to the world for free, especially after all the work put in to create it. After seeing the possibilities of the Arduino and understanding how different people can use it for seemingly endless applications, it was surely a good decision. From the graph shown in the video of the increased number of Arduino users over the years, one can see that this technology has become exponentially more popular which opened up many opportunities for the team who created the technology and as a result their profits started following a similar exponential trend.

Blog Five

The following commentary is based upon these two articles:

After reading the article, “What’s the Deal with copyright and 3D Printing?” and reassessing the objects I chose for the first blog, I can definitely see some potentially copyrightable aspects to some of the models. The horsehead sculpture was modeled after an original stone piece which was most likely created by another artist. The artistic nature of this model would put in under the category of things that are acceptable for a copyright. The original artist created the sculpture then the 3D model was designed from it which could infringe on the artistic rights. Another object that could potentially infringe on copyright laws is the object for something useful, the grip to car gear shifter. The specific design I have posted is pretty standard and would need qualify for a copyright, however there could be other designs that are more artistic which would be separated from the actual handle. There could potentially be a company logo or design that is an extra part of the shifter which could be copyrighted but the shifter itself is too common of an object to qualify for a copyright by itself. In Brandon Tunkel's blog number one, for the useless category he discusses a sculpture from the game series Dead Space. The design already has a copyright as it is connected to that particular video game. The creators definitely want that object to remain specific to the game Dead Space. Hamad’s useful item shows a belt buckle which was discussed in the article. In the case of a belt buckle the ultimate deciding factor is if the artistic aspects of the design are primary or secondary to the functionality of the buckle. The design that Hamad discusses would not be approved for a copyright because the artistic elements of the belt are secondary. It is a standard belt buckle with a little design carved out. If the buckle were more unique and actually change the way the belt worked then it would be considered okay to be approved for a copyright. Licensing non-copyrightable files can be beneficial for legal purposes as well as cultural purposes. On the legal side when a person licenses non-copyrightable files they are basically protecting it from falling into some other copyright law that might be implemented in the future. This allows a person to continue to improve an object or design regardless of how laws change in the future. Licensing non-copyrightable files for cultural purposes can be very beneficial. The creator is interested for their work to be exposed to a certain community who can help to improve the design or use the design to spark other ideas and creations. When referring to the article, “3D Printing Hits a Strange Milestone: Shape Pirates and Copyright Claims” the author can be considered naïve because Ulrich Schwanitz did not create the Penrose Triangle himself, he only figured out a model that would be compatible for 3D printing. If Ulrich were the original artist then it would have been a different story, but since he was just copying an already existing piece of art he had no right in claiming that it was his own property. Also, the Penrose Triangle is an optical illusion which are usually outside the scope of a copyright.

Blog Six

After reading through my classmate’s blogs about copyright and patent laws it seems as if the article, "What’s the Deal with Copyright and 3D Printing?", gave everyone a pretty good understanding of the differences between the two and where they should each be applied. Matt Digel did a nice job of summarizing the article and explaining what he had learned after reading it. Then in a very clear and concise way he reevaluated his parts from blog one as well as a few classmate’s items. Ian Beavers also had a relatively involved post as he examined the parts from five different blogs. This is definitely beneficial to do because it gives one the opportunity to read everyone’s interpretation of the 3D printing copyright article as well as see how everyone else categorized their parts from blog one when taking copyright and patent laws into consideration.

Blog Seven

The following commentary is based off of this article:

This article a 3D printed pinhole camera that uses natural sunlight that pours into a tiny hole to imprint the photons reflected off the surrounding environment onto a piece of film which creates the negative for a photograph. The use of 3D printing for technology such as this is a match made in heaven because the overall design is meant to be slightly simplified which means lower end printers can be used to produce these cameras. A person could build their very own RepRap printer then very easily print one of these pinhole cameras. If a product such as a camera can be made from the use of 3D printers, then this idea surely opens up the doors for other common objects that can be added to the pool of printable designs. Some actually prefer these pinhole cameras for taking pictures because it captures the image in a way that is impossible when using a lens and the only thing that needs to be replenished is the film. When using 3D printing for designs such as this camera one would hope that it would spark the interest of some and intrigue people in continuing to push the envelope. Items such as this pinhole camera are very exciting because who would have ever thought we would be 3D printing cameras that actually work. Even though it is a very cool concept, it is still limited in certain ways that will keep it in a niche market. With the technology available today it is silly to think that these cameras would ever take the place of digital cameras. Today's cameras have many more functions than capturing images, and there is even so much variation in how one can capture an image. The personal digital cameras are also so convenient to use and photos can be printed right from home and only need the time it takes to print for development. For reasons such as ease of use, convenience, functionality 3D printed pinhole cameras will never dominate the market but in turn it will spark brilliant ideas for those with innovative minds.

Blog Eight

The following projects can be found here:

The first project off of the ARMI site is an open source selective laser sintering printer. This project discusses the steps that have been taken and experiments that have been carried out in order to develop a successful laser sintering printer. A big experiment in this project is the use of a milling machine to create different materials to print with. Different sized milling balls were tested in order to figure out what size produced the most ideal particles. There were also other experiments performed that focused on mechanical and electrical aspects of the printer in order to increase the effectiveness of the machine.

The second project on the ARMI site is to improve ink jet printing using RepRap technology. The first initiative is to figure out how to implement ink jet print heads with RepRap mechanics. Instead of a standard extrusion nozzle this machine will have ink jet print heads mounted where the nozzle would normally be. The corresponding electronics will also need to be successfully integrated into the system to create a fully functional printer. Experiments are being done to test the accuracy of the ink jet nozzle; these experiments entail various droplet testing to determine a good ratio between spread and density of the material being used to print with.

The third project on the ARMI site is digital light projection 3D printer. There currently two main areas of focus for this project, containment of UV light and print adhesion. For the containment of the UV light, the problem is most likely due to the use of a clear print bed which absorbs the light which then reflects it to the surrounding areas. This could potentially be resolved by making the print bed opaque. Also, the prints have not been sticking to the print bed possibly because spray paint was used to make the print bed not see through any more. The paint made the bed slick which it why the prints won’t stick. This could be resolved by experimenting with different print bed materials, or materials to put on the print bed with better adhesion qualities.

The fourth project on the ARMI site is an extruder that can print using cells. This is a twenty milliliter syringe extruder that is capable of liquid extrusion at the microliter level. This will be used for research in synthetic biology, biological pattern formation, and engineering of cellular logic.

I believe that all of these projects are valuable because they are really advancing the possibilities of 3D printing using RepRap technology. It is essential to push these limits in order to make new discoveries and to find out what potential is present for the advancement of this technology. One thing that might be interesting to experiment with is the use of powder metallurgy using RepRap technology to produce higher quality and stronger parts.

Here are some other adjectives that can be used to describe the PSU RepRap movement: hands on, 3D printing, tinker, build, problem solving, ground breaking discoveries

Here are some ideas for memorable words or acronyms that describe the PSU RepRap movement: PennPrint3d: this uses the first part of Penn State and the word printed with a 3d at the end to include 3D printing in the name POSSABLE: Penn state Open Source Student Academic Based Learning Experience

Blog Nine

The article for the following commentary can be found here:

I think the possibility that we can make our own appliances is a very exciting notion. This could be a good thing for reducing waste by reusing parts of non working appliances, give a rise in the desire to be creative because people will see how simple something like making a coffee maker can be, especially if they share designs via a site like Thingiverse. With ideas like this floating around a new innovative design for a certain appliance could arise and become a groundbreaking milestone in its respective industry. This next idea might be slightly far-fetched but if everyone starts to 3D print mostly all parts of their appliances then retailers and manufactures will have to do something to not lose money from this phenomena. That most likely means implementing 3D printing into their processes to ensure the lowest prices so the consumers outweigh the effort of making their own with the prices being offered at stores. Regardless it is helping the name, 3D printing, to become more prominent and exposing a higher population of people to the capabilities.

The article for the following commentary can be found here:

When making one of these the product could be offered by having an online downloadable manual so anyone could look it up and make their own. It would intrigue anyone who likes to build to create their own products. Most likely only one person would be working on this and everything would be purchased in parts making the cost low, not extremely high precision since it is being handmade and put manually put together, there would be a decent amount of work involved using new and reused parts. When making ten of these there could potentially be a self-build kit for people who are interested in the reuse of parts to be environmentally friendly. In a self-make kit it would probably be a little more expensive since all the parts would be pre collected in the kit, there would be detailed instructions with still a good amount of work involved using new and reused parts. When making 100 of these it could be considered a limited edition product for people who want to support local production. The cost would be decent with a higher precision and less labor involved with the number of reused parts decreasing. Lastly, when making 1000 of these it would be a consumer product for anyone who is looking for an alternative to the typical drip coffee maker. It would be low cost and high precision, and not very labor intensive with most likely the use of machines or simple assembly line, and again with the number of reused parts decreasing. When comparing these I believe that Jesse could have over-elaborated some aspects, I do not think that 1000 is enough production to be considered a consumer article, for a self-build kit, I can easily see 1000 being sold or even 1000 people downloading the online manual to collect the materials and begin construction. I did like how Jesse categorized the needed materials so one will know where to obtain them. A lot of the reused and self production parts could be swapped out for different ones when using a different design but the local retail parts might be more difficult to interchange because of the acute water flow needs of this product.

Blog Ten

The following commentary are based off of the two opinions of Jeff Immelt, chief executive of GE, and Terry Gou, president of Foxconn Technology Group.

Jeff Immelt, the chief executive of GE, is clearly excited about the possibilities that additive manufacturing has to offer. His positive opinion on 3D printing is evident for a few reasons, for one it is bringing manufacturing business back to the United States and aids in the supply of jobs for American citizens. During Jeff's discussion with Gregory Ipp, the US economics editor for The Atlantic, he briefly explains how the current subtractive manufacturing process works and they type of labor and waste that is associated. Jeff compares this to additive manufacturing and and tells the audience that with the use of 3D printing a extremely complex part can be built from the core, significantly reducing waste material, cycle time, and cost. Jeff surely sees the potential in additive manufacturing and is investing GE's time and money into this process since it has the potential to save them and their customers billions of dollars. Since GE is a company who frequently creates parts with complex designs Jeff has seen the physical differences between the two processes, and the comparison of the numbers associated with each and is confident that 3D printing is a revolutionary technology for manufacturing.

Terry Gou, the president of Foxconn Technology Group does not have as supportive of an outlook on 3D printing that Jeff Immelt seems to have. In an article from The Economist Terry tells Taiwanese media that 3D printing has been in use by some companies for around thirty years now and he has not seen significant industrial applications when it comes to mass production. Foxconn assembles around 40% of all consumer electronics sold and claims that 3D printing is nothing but a gimmick. Terry dismisses the hype over this technology because he says that additive manufacturing is not capable of assembling and mass producing electronic components. He agrees that 3D printing can make models of these electronics but they will not be functional which is a big reason of why he believes it is not worth his companies time, money and effort.

Blog Eleven

The one thing that sticks out in my mind the most when it comes to issues during the RepRap construction process are parts not being the right dimensions but you still have to make it work. For example, whenever I was mounting the z-axis motors onto the platforms I found that the slots in the platform did not line up with the screw holes in the motor. I did not want to print out new parts because they would most likely have the same issue so I decided to file down the slots so there would be enough room to fit the screws. I spent my time doing this for three classes before I got both motors to line up. I actually broke out into a sweat with I was ferociously filing down the plastic. There are definitely ways around this. One would be to print the part out with no holes then place the motor on the part, mark where the holes are and drill the holes manually. Or even better, the SolidWorks file should be altered so the slots line up perfectly.

Another issue that I found to be quite tedious to fix is making sure that all axes are orthogonal. In my experiences the z-axis seemed to be the most difficult since it has to be able to spin clockwise and counter clockwise with as little resistance as possible. There are so many factors that play a part in this issue which is why it can prove to be tedious to fix. To ensure that one does not continuously run into this problem, whenever the initial build phase is in process parts can’t simply be thrown together. It needs to be done in an orderly and precise manner, because the more error in the early phases of the building process will only deal with more difficult error that will have to be dealt with later down the road.

Blog Twelve

The following commentary is based on this video:

If we could start printing with conductive silver ink it would surely open the doors for some awesome opportunities. We could potentially begin trying to print out own Arduinos and controllers. We could lay down a base using the ABS filament then the conductive silver could be printed on top of that surface. We would also have to solder and attach the necessary connections. To make this material work in the printers we could model it after how the pen is made. There could be a cylindrical container connected to the nozzle with a mechanism that facilitates the pressure within the container. Just like the gears of the extruder it expels a certain amount of filament during the print. This could be done with a simplified pressure mechanism, and the desired amount of conductive silver could come out. A more simple solution might be to make the pen and replace the extruder with the pen so instead of having to worry about extrusion, the pen would simply lay the conductive silver on any surface, and the printer could draw precise circuits. With the actual pen option we would have to do experiments of what size tip would be the most effective.

This capability is an exciting one because a setback of 3D printing is not being able to print electronics. By implementing conductive silver ink into additive manufacturing the manufacturing of electronics could be made possible using 3D printers.

Blog Thirteen

The following commentary is based off of this RepRap page:

This printer seems like it would work nicely and potentially take less time to build so they can be up and running in less time than the Mendel. Another positive factor about the Smartrap mini is that it seems like it definitely has the capability to print parts for our intended uses. Some potential downsides are that since the machine is smaller the parts might not last as long from overuse and a little less support. Also, this is a small factor to pay attention to but since the Arduino is below the print bed, you need to make sure that they never collide and mess up the electronics. Since there is less support on the printer is seems like the nozzle moves a little slower to reduce that shaking of the printer. Prints could take a little bit longer for this reason, or might not be as precise from undesired movement.

It is definitely something worth looking into and possibly constructing one since we have the majority of the parts anyways. We are also constantly discussing ways about how to sustain open source 3D printing at Penn State and exploring options such as the Smartrap mini could be the solution. I think it could easily be a project for semesters to come so the actual time, money, and aspects of quality can be compared.

Additional Blogs of Interest

Here are some additive manufacturing articles that I found to be interesting and felt the need to blog about.

Chipotle Commercial Back to the Start

The following commentary is based upon this Chipotle commercial:

As well as this article about the commercial:

Brief synopsis of the commercial: This is a very unique commercial with a powerful message. It starts out with a farmer living his life happily and going through his daily routine of tending to his animals and building up his farm. As his farm becomes more developed he is surprised to find himself in an industrialized world full of highways, factories, pollution and unnatural food processes. He is extremely distraught by what he is seeing and decides he can no longer put up with this nonsense. He runs back to where his farm use to be and tears down the factories and restores what use to be his own, making the land natural once again. The commercial concludes with the farmer putting a crate of meat in the Chipotle delivery truck which represents that their company only uses products that were naturally grown and raised and does not resort to processed meats or vegetables.

This is a unique commercial because all of the props used were printed by Statasys' Dimension 3D printer. What would originally have taken days to sculpt by hand, only took a few hours with the use of the Dimension printer. Instead of the team having to guess the exact sizes when certain props needed to be replicated, the printer was capable of creating perfect copies which saved a lot of confusion and potential inconsistencies in the commercial. Thorne, one of the leads on the production team, said creating these props would usually get subcontracted out to a different company but since they were able to use the technologies of 3D printing they could do everything on their own which saved them a significant amount of time and money. He also believes that with the use of this technology they have a competitive edge over other special effects and prop fabrication studios. Ad Week awarded Back to the Start the number two spot on its list of top ten commercials of 2011. Thorne said that 3D printing has become a crucial part of the production process and he now cannot imagine working without it.

This is a marvelous step for 3D printing because it is being used for another notable application. This commercial used stop motion animation with its unique props created by a 3D printer. This is just one more industry that additive manufacturing is successfully penetrating which significantly aids in the trust and capabilities people are beginning see that 3D printing has to offer.

What I Do In Class

This section will be dedicated to keeping an account of my experiences each day of class.

Journal 1


Unfortunately I did not think to keep an account of my experiences in EDSGN 497J until tonight, but later is better than never I suppose and since it has been such a memorable opportunity I have a good idea of everything that has happened so far regarding the construction of my first RepRap 3D printer. These posts will focus on weekly updates of the construction process and issues I came across as well as how each dilemma was resolved, plus anything else I deem worthy (cool successful prints, print issues, print fixes, new design ideas, etc).

During the first few weeks of class I designated myself as one of the printer repairmen, so out of the printers that were already built I would conduct prints and see if there were any resulting issues then figure out how to fix those issues. I figured this would be a good way to start off the class since I was getting experience on how to properly print as well the mechanical side of how the printers are designed. I quickly realized how intuitive working with the RepRaps can be which turned me on to them because I was not dealing with something that was way outside the realm of my understanding. After those few weeks passed and more printers started producing parts that met the intended specifications I decided that the number of repairmen could decrease and I moved on to a different project. I began constructing one of the unfinished printers. The frame of the printer was assembled for the most part so the first thing I started with was attaching the fixed z rods and z-axis motors. One of the first major issues I came across was that the slots of the z-motor carriages did not match up with the screw holes of the z-motors. To solve this issue I filed down the holes in the z-motor carriages so it was possible to line a screw up through the holes to tighten the motor down. This was quite the process since the filing took a while to ensure the perfect amount of material was shaved off in the right direction so the z-motor would remain snug when screwed down. After that dilemma was resolved I moved on to attaching the mechanism of where the z-axis meets the x-axis. The x-axis portion was already assembled so all I had to do was thread the spinning z-rods through the embedded bolts then attach the rods to the motor so the printer would have a mechanically functional z-axis. This task was another that proved to be a little more difficult than I had anticipated. I successfully assembled everything but it was a challenge to get the z-axis to spin smoothly. There is too much resistance in the spin which could be due to a number of reasons that I am still trying to narrow down. Making sure the two rods are parallel and vertical are a crucial aspects and to me they look to be this way but I obviously still have some adjusting to do since movement in the z-direction is not fluent. I moved on to the print bed because there was still construction to be done and perfection can be achieved through tweaking at a later date, in the meantime I had many other sections to complete. The print bed being used for the printer I am building is smaller than the ones the class has used in past semesters. This was no serious issue, I just had to use a smaller bar that runs perpendicular to the y-axis that connects the pieces that hold the print bed in place while it moves in the y-direction. This also meant that I had to move the parallel y-bars closer together so the rollers would fit properly and slide effortlessly along the y-axis. The holes were aligned between the bed and its holder then I drilled them into the print bed to attach the two. The printed springs used between the bed and holder were too long for the screws we had available so I cut the printed springs in half which proved to work just fine. After the print bed assembly was complete I popped it onto the y-bars and adjusted them slightly to find the happy medium of where movement was very smooth. Before I left class tonight I attached the y-belt but need to decrease tension or make other adjustments so y movement is fluent and can be easily moved by the motor.

Journal 2


I began to assemble the extruder and obtained an Arduino for my electronics. No serious problems were encountered and so far the extruder assembly is going smoothly. It should be complete by the end of next class and mounted onto the x-axis bars. After that process is complete all that needs to happen is the connection of the electronics then the printing will begin and I'll work on fine tuning the beast.

Journal 3


I had an extensive conversation with a peer about the future of additive manufacturing at Penn State as we are both currently working on projects to help pave the way for 3D printing at here at University Park. My capstone team is currently working on creating a resource that centralizes all information about the 3D printers around campus so they can be pointed in the right direction whenever a prototype or tangible design is needed. The peer who I spoke with had similar ideas but more focused on interdisciplinary collaboration. I really enjoyed listening to his ideas and where he would like to see additive manufacturing go at this university. Both resources would definitely be beneficial because with their existence students would immediately know what printers are available, where they are, what they can do, and how much it would cost. The collaboration would also be awesome to establish because students could essentially teach each other technical aspects of their field as it would be an open source network where art students could make a design then the engineers could print it out. This is the type of thing that needs to start happening so 3D printing is not strictly seen as an area where only engineers can be involved. There are so many different facets in the additive manufacturing process and it will really take capturing the interest of students in several departments for it to truly flourish. I believe this can be achieved through demonstrating how it relates to each students respective major and why it can play a significant role. The ultimate question is, how can that be done? Do we need a 3D print crusader to travel to each department and discuss the possibilities? In a way this might be true because exposure is absolutely necessary.

After our conversation I continued to work on the extruder body. Whenever I screwed down the motor and put the gears in place I realized that the big gear does not spin perfectly and it was rubbing against some of the screws. I spent the remainder of class time playing around with different types of screws to see which ones had a small enough head so there would be clearance between the screws and gear. My final solution was to simply flip the screws that were already in the motor from one end to the opposite end since their heads are slightly smaller and they are not needed to keep the top portion of the motor assembled. The gear now spins without any rubbing.

By next class I plan on having the extruder body completed and placed in its carriage so it can be mounted onto the x-axis bars. After that the Arduino will be mounted and the electronics will be connected so I can begin to perfect my baby's prints.

Journal 4


Last Thursday an exam held me back from making progress on the printer but I was able to find time to come in and continue construction. I finally finished the extruder body tonight after overcoming the various issues involved. After that I reached a standstill because I was not exactly sure how to properly attach the extruder tip to the body then mount everything on the extruder carriage. Tomorrow night in class my goal is to all aspects of the extruder assembled and mounted onto the x-axis bars, and the final steps of construction will attaching the Arduino to the printer and hooking up the electronics. As long as significant issues do not arise I believe the printer will be ready for action by the end of the week.

Journal 5


The extruder has been successfully assembled with gears, motors, nozzle and carriage, and it has been mounted onto the x-axis bars and the belt has also been set into place and connected to the carriage. No serious issues arose during this phase of the process and the last step before printing commences is the connection of all the electronics which should happen on Thursday!

Journal 6


Before the electronics were connected we made tweaks to the printer to ensure that all axes were orthogonal. It was a slight process to adjust the axes and be certain they were positioned correctly. All of the electronics were connected today and all axes were being tested for functionality. They all worked besides the x-axis and we identified that it was an issue with the driver. The end stops were also put into place but they were not tested.

Journal 7


I began some of my print service prints so I came in early. I was working on the yellow printer while one of my prints was going on and periodically checking it. Unfortunately I became too involved with working on gettng the electronics of the yellow printer to function properly and did not catch that my the extruder on my print stopped extruding and messed up the layers significantly enough where I had to stop it an hour into the print. I decided to focus my time on the yellow printer at that point so I did not make any simple mistakes from my mind being in two different places at once. We tested a few different drivers to find a working one and then we successfully got all axes working. The z-axis took a little bit of time to find the sweet spot where it spun with minimal restriction. To fix this I found the ideal positioning of the bar on the bottom of the printer that hold the two z-axis guide bars in place. I moved each to various locations until the axis was able to easily spin whithout over working the motors. Next class I need to connect the temperature wires to the Arduino and hopefully get a working hot tip. If that is achieved then I'll need to attach the Arduino the skeleton of the printer, organize the wiring, put tape on the bed, then finally start printing with it.

My Designs

In this section I will keep track of all stl files I designed and the process taken to reach the final product.

Design 1: RepRap Label Housing

Design Iterations

Objective: Create a housing for labels that will specify print temperature, nozzle size, if it is in working condition.

1) Picture: real and 3D model (if possible) - SolidWorks drawing would be nice

This was a good start for me since it further helped me to understand the limitations of a 3D model when designing for RepRap printers. The part actually turned out okay besides one crucial feature. I designed some openings that were cut into the face of the model and on the side were small slits where the labels could simply slide in. I designed the slits too thin and during the print process since they were so narrow the ABS material fused together so nothing could actually slide through. The clamp on the back of the design were also too long. The intention of these were to attach the label housing onto the metal skeleton of the printer then snug it up with a bolt and screw. Each clamp arm was too long and had no curvature which caused one to crack and then eventually break off because as they were pulled closer together by the bolt and screw it split between two of the print layers. A few minor changes that were also necessary was to make then body of the label housing thinner, there is no reason for it to use up that many layers. Also, the slots for the labels were not centered which can easily be fixed by cutting down the width of the label housing's body. I also had some trouble getting the print to stick on the bed during the first couple layers which is visible when looking at the front face of the printed design; however, this did not prove to be a significant issue, it only slightly took away from how the final product looked.

2) Picture

There were some good things and bad things with this design. The tabs could actually be placed in their holders this time so that aspect of the design was a success for the most part. The only flaw in it is there is slight overhang in the tab shelves so the tabs have a snug fit. As a result of this slight overhang the print got a little messy but nothing that takes away from its intended use. I sized the body of the part incorrectly and actually made it bigger than my first iteration which was a silly mistake. I did not have dimensions of the first one because I only have the stl version so I kind of went in blind when assigning dimensions to this design, last time I'll do that. I also changed the way it will attached to the printer which I still think will work except I was about 0.02 inches too small with the diameter of the metal bars that are used to create the printer's skeleton. That will be an easy fix, but it'll be back to the drawing board again to come up with a design that does not have overhang in any of its features.


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