Printing a RepRap


The RepRap project has been working on bringing 3D printing to the masses by creating a extrusion printer that can also make the majority of its own parts. For the most part, these print ABS or HDPE plastics which are strong and recyclable. In order to create these replicating printers, similar machines called RepStraps are built out of either laser-cut parts or machined elements. They are functionally equivalent to RepRap printers, but are not made of printed parts. [nophead] documented his RepStrap, HydraRaptor, that is based off a milling machine. He had already printed a set of RepRap parts, and he documented printing a second set. The machine worked for about 100 hours over the course of 2 weeks, printing about 1.5 kg of parts. He made a few adjustments, such as replacing ABS bearings with HDPE to reduce friction. The parts are for Factor e Farm so they can get started with 3D printing.

Related: RepRap pinch wheel extruder

61 thoughts on “Printing a RepRap

  1. repcraps aren’t self replicating. not even close. it is absurd and patently illogical nonsense, but apparently if some idiot repeats it enough online and it becomes a mantra.

    As per this article, they are using machines one level higher in complexity to produce even the base structural parts for a repcrap.
    Those machines in turn are required to be made by something even higher in complexity – and even at that level the machines aren’t even close to self replicating either.

    The only theoretically completely self-replicating system is a manual 3 axis Vertical mill in combination with a manual 4th axis and a manual geared lathe. With those three tools in combination you can duplicate each of the three precisely if given a skilled operator, raw material, and consumables.

    Just because a machine can make a few parts, that when finished with several other tools and pieces of equipment, might be usable for a fractional percentage of the parts to assemble another one, does not make for self-replicating. It makes for idiotic sounding hype.

    1. Ahh, I love looking into the past!

      As the new owner of a Kossel Mini, I can say with certainty that RepRaps are indeed self-replicating. I am already getting prints near the quality of the Makerbot that I used to build it, and the quality is improving rapidly. I am sure that within a month, I will be able to print another Kossel kit.

      While it is true that many of the parts cannot be printed, the difference when comapring a RepRap to another printer is obvious. The aforementioned Makerbot cost roughly $2100, compared to the $700 I spent on parts — and if I had done things more intelligently, that could have been $600. That’s three and a half RepRaps for the price of a single Makerbot, and the RepRaps are faster, have a bigger build volume, and are about $70 away from having dual extruders.

      Yes, the RepRap project works. Never underestimate a bunch of smart nerds who want the future to happen.

  2. Who claimed it was SELF replicating? The idea is that the machine can print it’s own components, not that it can replicate itself. Of course you need other machine to make the base parts, theywillnot appear out of thin air.
    A multi-axis mill cannot replicate parts that a rapid prototyper can. There are tooling angle problems and encapsulation limitations with milling machines that rapid prototypers do not suffer from.

  3. @pseudonomous

    True, just as there are material limitations of rapid prototypers that milling machines do not suffer from. Both are legitimate tools that have their place, which distinguishes them from the repcrap.

    Who claimed repcraps were self replicating? virtually every owner of one and most every mention of them online. there is a cult of people trying to push these things as the next paradigm shift in human development, when they are pointless toys good for little other than grade school demonstrations of rp concept.

    They are an evolutionary dead end already eclipsed by far better and cheaper rp concepts.

  4. @ Stunmonkey

    “already eclipsed by far better and cheaper rp concepts.”

    feel free to link me to somewhere I can buy an RP machine for less than $500 please.

  5. Uh, some people seem to be under the impression that you need to make all your own bits and do the assembly to replicate. Not so. People can’t make any number of proteins, vitamins and so forth yet they replicate – generally without the aid of a manual.

    As it happens, I have 80% of a 3rd-generation reprap sitting in a box on my desk. They can – and do – replicate.

    If someone has a cheaper RP concept we can use, please do clue us in. I’ll build one with my reprap.

    Vik :v)

  6. @vik: I think people’s use of the world “replicate” is somehow being used differently.

    A whiptail lizard (cute little gals) can replicate asexually when they are ready and some assembly in their eggs and in this respect some people say that whiptail lizards are self-replicating since all they need are raw materials (your number of proteins and vitamins).

    In the case of the rep-rap, it is not quite that with the assembly taking place outside of an egg with the user’s hands and in that same aforementioned perspective they are said to not be replicating since it requires the user’s hands.

    To another perspective, they do sort-of replicate but I can’t really think of a biological equivalent. Maybe like a marsupial that would need a manual. And help from a website. And a credit card.

  7. when they can make their own electronics and bearings and belts and drive components I might call them close even if they didn’t self-assemble. as it is you can’t even make basic ‘dumb’ parts that don’t require finishing on other machines to be usable. then you gotta buy the rest anyway.

  8. humans create 60+% of their own proteins.
    repraps create 60+% of their own parts.
    this means repraps can claim self-replication ( call it self-cloning, if you prefer, or self-production, or whatever)

    humans 100% self-assemble.
    repraps 1% self-assemble.
    this means repraps can not claim self-assembly(yet).


  9. Comparing “self replicating” 3d printers to biological replication is like… comparing a matchbox car to a Ferrari. Don’t even bother. The rerap is interesting, and the concept is being actively developed. I’d like to see a system that can print 100% of it’s mechanical parts and assemble them, leaving the user to attach motors, electronics, etc. Wouldn’t that be fun?

  10. Well, the point is this: these aren’t just consumer-level machines that require you to throw them away when they get too worn down, and so on .. they’re machines which can easily contribute to their own longevity by replacing their own parts. This is a significant step for macro-manufacturing (assembly on the desktop) and *will* produce future products that might change the way we think about consumption of tools.

    How much waste do we have to put up with, just because we can’t get a simple piece of the machines puzzle to make it work again? This is definitely something we must manage as a culture and as a society if we want to improve conditions on this planet for everyone. Put a fleet of these machines to use in places that really need them, building water pumps and so on, and *let* them be used to copy themselves, and we may yet see a solution to the misery produced by industrialists the world over.

  11. This is seriously some cool stuff. I can think of a million and one useful things to do with this thing as is, and a billion silly things. off the top of my head – I broke off my keyboards raisers by accident, I could make a new one instead of buying a new keyboard :)

  12. the reprap project is retarded, but more importantly the quality of the parts sucks. just compared the milled parts above to reprap produced parts and you will see the difference.

    that being said, i can see why the idea of a reprap would appeal to bleeding heart idiots who view world in shades of misery “produced by industrialists the world over”. their ideas usually fail to find success when applied in real life. aka social security, public schools, healthcare “reform”, the post office, etc, etc, etc

    show me one useful thing that a reprap has made.

    show me one thing the government runs that isnt a festering pile of waste

  13. yes it seems like they are trying make it “sound” better than it is… but who cares… you do understand the concept of the reprap right? good, thats all it matters… it is still a great project.

  14. @beavis: What? This is some kind of gov’t project? Are you attempting to conflate how some people are portraying this device/method with some kind of political ideology?

    Whether the quality of the parts are the same as parts produced by some other method isn’t really relevant as long as they’re capable of doing the job. Do they need to be milled titanium to be acceptable? I doubt it. And the rest? Sounds like the angry ramblings of the white guy who doesn’t like how the world is slipping out of anglo dominance and into the hands of other folk.

  15. jay vaughan has a point, but it is just as stupid to say misery is the result of industrialization and rapid prototyping can fix that as it is to say that everything the government does is shit. What is good about this thing is the different way of thinking. There are plenty of machines out there that you could make replacement parts with. The real problem is that everything designed today is designed to be thrown away. And also designed to be a big secret. Lack of caring is the real problem, but very few care to change that as long as they can still use a rake to collect their earnings into a tidy pile.

    Also, I’m not sure how healthcare reform has failed when it has never even happened in the U.S. I can see, however, how all those single-payer systems have failed in all those countries that have them, but have equal or higher levels of care and equal or better average standards of living.

  16. I just hope that from all of this activity and hype with these machines, that someone (or probably some company) improves the quality and resolution of the resulting parts. Unfortunately, I think that these are at the limit of hobbyists abilities, because to go another order of magnitude in resolution probably requires MEMS type structures for nozzles, kind of like with inkjet printers. Once you can start making parts with 0.001″ resolution THEN you will have major interest, but until then, it is going to be a novelty that has little appeal to many people.

  17. @randomguy said:
    >I’m not sure how healthcare reform has failed when
    >it has never even happened in the U.S.

    Newsflash: As it turns out, there *are* other countries in the world, and to their detriment, they have experimented with socialized medicine.

    If you source your information from someplace other than the usurper-in-chief’s web site or the Obama-news-networks (MSNBC) (CNN) you discover that while all socialized medicine systems look great on paper, they ultimately fail in practice, because they always boil down to rationing. This means suffering and premature death for people the government deems “ineligible” for whatever procedure/treatment is necessary.

    Case in point: A 22-year-old man just died in the UK from lack of treatment for a bad liver because he drank too much. Now, before you get huffy and argue that he deserved to die… well, so do *you*. You “deserve” to die from lung cancer if you smoke. You “deserve” to die from heart failure if you enjoy steak and hamburger. You “deserve” to die from head injuries if you ride a bike or motorcycle. You “deserve” to die from skin cancer if you spend time outdoors. You “deserve” to die from diabetes because you’re too fat from spending too much time in front of computer reading hackaday posts…etc etc etc. Catch my drift?

    Ultimately, socialized medicine is most ideal and most attractive to young people who, because of their phase in life, are disinclined to have to make use of the system anyway. Unfortunately, demographics indicate that the population of the U.S. is aging, and that the mean age has been rising for years. Socialized medicine is the *last* thing need.

    Fiscally, no socialized medicine system is sustainable for more than 10-15 years, after which it goes bankrupt. Talk to some doctors in Canada. I *have*.

    Finally, there is a *reason* why anyone who lives in a country with socialized medicine, who has the means, will preferentially seek treatment in the U.S. Since I’m not Obama, and therefore not interested in doing all of your thinking for you, I’ll leave it to you to figure out why.

  18. the reprap can also make it’s own pcb’s now, so ll it can’t make is individual components like transistors and chips. as others have mentioned many things that “self replicate” need pieces from other things. the goal is to get it so it can make all of it’s pieces, nobody is claiming it can make more the 80-90% by weight, not cost.

    also I’m from canada and socialized medicine is great mmkay. besides nothing says rich old people can’t pay for extra treatment. there can and will still be private firms and you can pay for private rooms and stuff. the only people who seem to believe is Laissez-faire capitalism are arrogant well to do old people just like the only people who want anarchy are juvenile idealists. don’t you see that Laissez-faire and anarchy are the same thing? just with different properties brought into focus.

  19. well now it seems that this particular project has touched a bit of a nerve by so-called ‘experts’ on the subject of industrialization.

    whats the matter .. the idea of a desktop manufacturing revolution got you down? maybe you work for mega-parts-corp, inc., eh?

    give this device to the poor who need it to replace the parts in their water pumps and de-salination engines. forget the naysayers and smart-ass’es who have no experience, and see no joy, with making a part that just plain works, when you need it, where you need it, without paying “the man” a dime.

    hooray for innovation! good luck, negative nellies.. you’re gonna need it. looks like youre smarts ain’t gonna be needed once the teenagers of mumbai get hold of this thing ..

  20. This device is pointless wanking and won’t save the world no matter how much you wish it to.

    Ad hominem attacks on people who point out that emperor reprap has no clothes only makes you look stupider than you already are.

  21. I just discovered that houses are self-replicating!

    Houses raw materials are 80% wood, and trees can self replicate. Of course, just like with a reprap, you do have to discount cutting, shaping and finishing those parts, and the other 20% complex parts like pipes, wire, and appliances and things.
    it doesn’t self-assemble either, but that isn’t counted apparently in either case.

    By the definition of reprap cultists, houses are self-replicating too!!!!!1!!one

  22. stupid would be not checking out the technology and finding a use for it before declaring oneself superior to all those who deign to look beyond the curtain.

    i have seen the reprap and what it can do, and i am impressed. it doesn’t bother me an iota that individuals who consider their knowledge of the world ‘superior’ haven’t even bothered to try.

    after all, thats not really what hacking is all about. calling something a ‘cult’ just because you’re not the one getting recognition for its development is, well .. lame.

  23. I think that dude is having a rough day, too much hate. Woo Milling machines, if you have $5K sitting around. If it bothers you that much, you should start your own open source DIY milling machine project that can help you make more milling machines.

    Though, from those comments, It seems hater has more ideological complaints than technical ones. Perhaps because it advocates an evolutionary model for development.

  24. this isn’t about ideology people, its about technology. this just isn’t good technology

    in this case its development path is limited, and there are other more promising paths that aren’t a dead end.

    you want to change the world, use a tool that has potential. this isn’t it.

  25. @beavis: The parts in the image are printed, not milled. HydraRaptor was put together with an off-the-shelf 3-D bot so that Nophead could work on print quality before the reprap positioning system was done, and runs a relatively normal reprap extruder. If they were milled, the horizontal holes wouldn’t be teardrop-shaped.

  26. Hooray for the experts losing their cool about a technology they have no control over! Without such pomp and circumstance there wouldn’t be much confirmation of the validity of this amazing technology beyond that attained by .. well .. using it!

    Let’s hear more ffrom those who have positive use cases, and let the negative individuals scoff away from their gilded sidelines … it only means things are really headed in the right direction, if the ‘experts’ are all bleating for attention ..

  27. Indeed. The bitching and moaning of idiots is rather annoying. Until you produce, demonstrate, document, and distribute a better system, STFU.

    RepRap _works_, and importantly, it works _now_. If you don’t like _how_ it works, feel free to send a patch or start your own project. Otherwise, piss off.

  28. It’s funny but there are a load of people without repraps telling people that their machines are crap and useless. Meanwhile, people who do have them and are using them look on in mild amusement.

    Repraps are already being used to fix things as diverse as cars, blenders, and shelving units. They are appearing in Makerspaces where they are used to create parts for a number of DIY projects. There is one in Poland being used to print artificial bone scaffolds – and this is just the V1.0 proof-of-concept design.

    It is now just over a year since the first machine made a set of parts for a child machine. In a couple more months we’ll be releasing a V2.0

    Are we improving the quality? No. Are we making it faster? Not really. It’s designed to be easier for people to build, and have wider availability.

    Why is this? Why not make it more accurate and faster? Because it is accurate enough to replicate, and if you want speed just build another one to double your output rate. Accuracy is now largely a function of software, and being Open Source that will evolve in parallel.

    What the new design will drive is the evolution. The more people there are dicking with it, the better it gets. “Better” here is defined by the users, not the armchair nay-sayers.

    Vik :v)

  29. “Fiscally, no socialized medicine system is sustainable for more than 10-15 years, after which it goes bankrupt. Talk to some doctors in Canada. I *have*.”

    Just disregard all of the rankings showing the US paying more per capita and getting a lower quality of health care, socialized medicine doesn’t work *because I say so*.

  30. ad hominem attacks may make you feel better, but it doesn’t make your arguments correct. only a truly imbalanced person takes valid criticism as validation of their delusion. Particularly when the paranoid fantasies involve all who disagree being part of an active organized malevolent conspiracy to silence them and oppress ‘the masses’.

    Some of us are actually engineers that have indeed tried this system and ones like it (it isn’t the only one by a long shot), and simply decided on more affordable, useful, accurate, and sustainable models to accomplish small scale on-site manufacture for developing nations.
    if thats what you want to do, its a good cause, but extruder systems are simply barking up the wrong tree entirely.

    try actually going to mumbai and see what small production/on-site business models are actually working for them locally and proving sustainable. not one reprap is among them.
    so who really is talking without knowing anything, mr. armchair cheerleader?

  31. To be fair, the question was asked “Where is this cheaper/better/whatever technology available?” and you still have yet to provide any information other than your own experience, scott. I personally would love to see something more affordable than a reprap (The cost is one of the reasons I haven’t yet tried to get one).

  32. @lessermilton

    its a good question, but a complex one. especially since initial purchase cost != cost of ownership. can a USD $1000 or USD $2500 machine be cheaper in the long (or even short) run than a reprap? especially for developing world apps? the answer is usually yes. add to that subtractive (cnc milling) processes are also now available in some countries in the sub-$500 and sub-$1000 ranges and are produced locally.

    the focus is also to outfit centralized, more robust small local shops run as a business. this allows shared, more complex equipment for a community than to try to supply each individual – analogous to having a corner copy shop with a copy machine available to all as needed for minimal cost, instead of trying to get everyone in the shantytown their own copier!!! only americans think an item only counts if it is available as personally owned commodity.

    cost for best mehods also varies by region, as labor is the primary cost driver in some areas (first world) and not others (developing nations).
    most approaches for sustainable on-site manufacture are still using a combo of mixed simple technologies – additive, subtractive, and casting, both manual and automated, as no one is one size fits all.

    even for pure additive rp, simple drum printing methods and certain methods using uv catalyzed liquid plastics seem to be gaining an edge over the (many) other methods, both for initial cost, maintenance, cycle times, and part accuracy. in any case extruder methods have pretty much fallen to dead last and are well and truly past still being considered serious contenders at this stage.

  33. i realized that answer only approached the developing world problem. what to use personally in a first world country is a different set of equations.

    are developing country/local independence issues that really, truly what people are interested in? or simply, is ‘saving the world’ just an excuse to get sanctimonious and self-righteous to others? I honestly can’t tell people like jay just want a machine for themselves and the ‘save the world’ discussion is only just to try to feel superior to others, or if sustainable tech is really is the point he is wanting to see developed.

  34. From my personal experience following the RepRap project (mostly through their blogs), the main focus is on spreading the project in first world countries, but I don’t think anyone’s pretending otherwise. Most talk about making the RepRap suitable for the developing world consists of describing just how terrible it currently is for that purpose and trying to alleviate some of the causes of this.

    Actually achieving global RepRap availability is generally treated as a considerably far-off goal that won’t even be approachable until some time after RepRap has already been accepted as a household item in the first world.

    I’m not really sure where you’re getting the idea that there’s such a great sense of superiority among RepRappers. They certainly think they’re being generally usefull, but beyond that it’s just nerdy enthusiasm for a cool technology, with some extra gee wizz for exponential growth potential. I’m sure there are other projects out there that are better at a lot of things, but it would help to be a little less hostile about it.

  35. what do i want? i want to see a reprap being used in the slums to build another reprap. then another one. then another one. then i want to see that team of repraps being used to improve the life of those in the slums.

    can this happen? hell yes it can. will it happen? we shall see. certainly, listening to the naysayers isn’t going to make it happen. but watching the project and participating in making it better in any way possible, increases the chance a great deal more ..

  36. >Just disregard all of the rankings showing the US
    >paying more per capita and getting a lower quality
    >of health care, socialized medicine doesn’t work
    >*because I say so*.

    >Posted at 3:18 pm on Jul 23rd, 2009 by dildo baggins

    Ranked by WHOM? And what is THEIR agenda?

    Learn to question your politicians and bureaucrats… question their motives… question the “data” they present. If you don’t, you’re a fool.

    Health care “reform” will accomplish two things: It will destroy the quality of care we already have, and it will vastly increase the governments interference in your personal life. Even the government account office openly admits that all of this will cost MORE, not less.

    Wake up, dude. It’s no accident that the program Obummer and every one of his shills in congress will be exempt from the “reform” they want to ram down your throat. Why d’ya suppose that is, hmmm?

  37. The simple fact that RepRap can only replicate a small percentage of it’s own parts severely limits usability in the wild. Where is Joe Slum going to get the parts for the sensors, motors, and other electronic components? Just what the poor and starving world needs, a machine that can make it’s own plastic parts. Fantastic. 3D printing is neat stuff but as a social project it is more liberal waste making a couple of special groups fuzzy inside with complete disregard to the real needs of the people they are trying to “fix”.

  38. > where is joe slum going to get the parts for the sensors, motors, and other electronic components?

    from the shipping containers worth of junk that we privileged fat consumers ship off to their lands for disassembly, duh.

    printing the parts needed to turn a junk HP plotter into a functioning RepRap: possible. this *is* called ‘hack’-aday, you know…

  39. Andrew, I can’t quite see from that image what proportion of that printer is made using a similar printer. The output appears to be a bit on the fragile side for the job.

    Could it be that this person is concentrating on quality, not mechanical utility? Remember the RepRap has to be able to make its own bits, which requires a certain degree of strength in its output and remarkably little actual accuracy. So it stands a chance of working no matter how cack-handed the builder is!

    Vik :v)

  40. personally, I think the most reasonable view of the reprap project is that it gives individuals in the western world an extraordinarily cheap way to make a rapid prototyping machine with accuracy far more than sufficient for personal projects.

    the main audience is really the sort of person who reads hackaday, I’m astounded you people don’t see this as an exciting possible addition to your current set of tools.

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