Some people are simply too stupid and/or too lazy to go through this wiki for setting up their RepRap. I call them "KlickiBunti" users, because their knowledge usually ends apruptly after how to klick a button on a colorful screen. So please, KlickiBunti users, go away, RepRap isn't made for you. RepRap is for experts, only!
Oh, nobody would admit to be a KlickiBunti user, of course ... so ... let's rephrase ...
This page may be helpful for those who are just overwhelmed by the vast number of options RepRap offers. Dozens of different machine designs, more than ten different electronics sets, and not so much time to explore them all. After all, knowledge assembles as soon as one gets started.
So, let's see how to get started failsafe, and quickly.
The times when newbies were recommended to build a RepStrap, because RepStraps can be built without printed parts, are gone. These days, a plentitude of shops and Entrepeneurs exists, so you can get printed parts quickly and at a good price.
While bigger shops usually offer "complete kits", they often have some tendency to become independent from the RepRap project and offer solutions which work only together with their other parts. So, smaller shops aren't the worst choice, are more flexible and the closer their relationship to the RepRap project is, the more independence you get.
Other than that, it doesn't matter where you buy parts. Pick (a) convenient one(s) from the Mendel Buyer's Guide or the RepRap forum's for sale section. Many RepRap wiki pages also contain links where to get the parts required for that particular project.
Oh, and don't be surprised if you sometimes see quirks around this area. As money is involved, ... you guess it.
The currently easiest to build and best documented model is the Prusa Mendel. Unless you have special interests, start with this one.
The interesting part on RepRap is, any machine model is capable of building all required parts for the other models. So, even if you'd regret your choice later, you'd simply fire up your Prusa and build parts for the others. Then swap stepper motors and electronics over to the new one, and you're set.
For a more complete list of available models, see RepRap Options.
First of all, all electronics here are equal enough to be interchangeable. They all run an AVR ATmega processor as CPU, they all can drive bipolar stepper motors all provide at least 1/8 microstepping and they all run the same firmwares ( = controller software).
Also, all electronics sets fit to all RepRap models. Even the Prusa with it's five stepper motors requires only four stepper motor drivers.
So the choice is tough and mostly depends on your personal preferences.
|Board||Speed (MHz)||Microstepping||Extruders||Heated bed support||Available for DIY|
|Generation 6 Electronics||16||1/8||1||Limited||SMD soldering|
|Generation 7 Electronics||16 and 20||1/16||1||Up to 15 amps||board & soldering|
|RAMPS||16||1/16||2||Up to 11 amps||soldering|
|Sanguinololu||16||1/16||1||Up to 11 amps||soldering|
|Ultimaker's v1.5.6 PCB||16||1/16||2||Up to 5 amps||pre-assembled + tested|
Generation 6 Electronics is more or less an industry product which claims to be plug-and-play. While plug-and-play can obviously work for one specific machine setup only - in this case the Mendel offered by the same vendor, of course - it gets you started with other machines as well.
RAMPS is a good choice if you already own an Arduino. Because RAMPS delivers just the RepRap specific part in form of a stackable board.
Sanguinololu is the most compact one. As industry fabricated board space is costly, it's not the most flexible one, but affordable.
Generation 7 Electronics is the most replicatable one. It's ideal for do-it-yourself-ers and modders, but can also be purchased as kits.
Ultimaker electronics is feature-rich, similar to RAMPS, sold readily manufactured, similar to Gen6.
Price comparisons require some attention, as some kits have the parts for barely running the ATmega only, other kits also include the required heatsinks and the connectors required for assembling the cables. All of them require customizing the firmware, so there's no plug-and-play. The more you dream of a plug-and-play printer, the earlier go into the list, the more you like doing things yourself, the later go into the list.
For the success of your new RepRap it doesn't matter which one to get here, as long as you get one.
Here it gets more interesting. Like with the other parts, a plentitude of software pieces exists. The art is to find a set which works well together.
How is that supposed to work?
As always, software keeps the brain of all that stuff. We have a geometry description on one side and a machine capable of moving a tool head on the other end. What are the steps to get from here to there?
- In your favourite geometry creation application, export an STL file. Luckily, almost all applications can do that.
- Before doing that, make sure the orientation is right. It matters which part of the geometry is on top and which is at bottom, so turn your part until it's right. For example, you want to avoid overhangs.
- That done, compile G-code. Here you have to tell the G-code compiler what your machine can do, and what not. How big your nozzle is and what speeds your machine can achieve. This process is complex behind the scenes, so prepare to try different settings, assembling experience.
- Load that G-code with a G-code sender application and send it to the machine.
- Watch the machine moving, building your part.
... to be followed ...