What Tooling Do You Have
We need a verbal flow chart, that takes tooling and budget and provides a recommendation.
Do you have a 3D printer?
Is it cheap to use?
Is it expensive?
Do you have a laser cutter?
Do you have a milling machine?
???make mine a laser cutter or table saw???
I meant, what tools do you have right now? If your university has a laser cutter, you can use it. If your university has a table saw, you can use it. Once the technician who is in charge of the room is happy. I did not mean "you need to make a laser cutter". :)
Does your university has a woodworking shop, or a metalworking shop? Does it have a laser cutter? These are the questions you need to ask yourself, and your mentor.
Here is a RepStrap made from wood:
It is not on the wiki, but maybe it should be. You will probably need a handsaw, a drill, and a good measuring tape. (But you really want to use a 'miter saw' aka a 'chop saw'.)
It is cheap to make, and you'll learn a bit about about woodworking.
Since your funds are limited, I would suggest making one out of wood. This one looks well made.
It is not on the wiki, but should be.
This one is made from square metal tube. (Either tube with holes, or you drill a few holes.) There is zero documentation right now, so you do not want to make one.
Or you can buy an expensive sherline aka expensive instant machine hardware, and concentrate on writing cool software.
re. RepRap = Free?
Well, these are other free hardware projects.
We put all the plans away for free, and people are free to do what they want with them, subject to certain limitations, like
But we do not have a large enough population of machines making repraps so cheap that we can give them away for zero dollars, or even the cost of the components.
These are possible colleagues who will have been thinking about laser cutters and 3D printers.
If you want, you can organize a group buy of a makerbot or sherline, and keep it at the club. hackerspace people often buy an expensive laser cutter as a group.