Printing circuits on the RepRap


[Rhys Jones] has been working with the RepRap team to develop a way to print circuit boards. The machine first prints the plastic substrate with channels for the metal to be deposited into. They adapted their pinch wheel feeder to work with solid core solder (flux creates a mess). The extruded solder’s specific heat isn’t hot enough to melt the plastic. They made a video (embedded below) of their test piece: an optical endstop. The team has also been experimenting with decoupling the feed mechanism from the extruder.

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3D Printing at home


We’ve seen a lot of 3d printing lately, with the RepRap and Cupcake, both the fused deposition modeling type. We don’t often see the Inkjet method. This is a great example of one, built in someones home. Instead of laying down layers of molten plastic, he uses the inkjet system to deposit glue like substances into layers of plaster. This project is much higher resolution than the other two, as you can see in the video of it making an RC engine case below. He is currently rebuilding it to be even better and larger.

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RepRap pinch wheel extruder


What you see above is the culmination of [Zach Smith]’s work building a pinch wheel style extruder for the RepRap. The current RepRap 3D printer uses a screw mechanism to push 3mm polymer filament into a heating barrel where it is melted and then extruded through a fine nozzle. [Zach]’s new version uses a drive gear from SDP/SI mounted directly to the DC motor we saw him teardown earlier. He’s redesigned the carrier for the extruder as well. It’s now much lighter and has provisions for mounting current and future controller electronics along with a magnetic rotary encoder. In the last two days, he’s been doing real world testing. It’s been doing well, but he’s learning to do things like always using a full spool and not trying to run short lengths back to back.

Ponoko launches subscription manufacturing


Ponoko is an on-demand manufacturing service. You submit your design and they’ll cut it out of one of their many materials. The site is built so you can sell your products or designs directly. They recently took a major step with the introduction of Designmake Prime. It’s a monthly subscription based service with many benefits. It lets you submit DXFs for evaluation instead of their standard EPS or SVG. You can request any material you want and they’ll provide direct support. You also get priority in manufacturing queues. While they’ve always offered an à la carte service, this new move puts Ponoko directly in the role of a traditional manufacturer. Offering manufacturing as a service shows their intention of former a relationship with their customers, but at the an individual level, which most manufacturers can’t approach because of scale.

Ponoko first came to our attention when RepRap published an acrylic version of their machine.

[via Fabbaloo]

Case prototyping

[Deviant Ollam], lockpicker and beverage cooling contest host, was recently in Vienna, presumably for DeepSec. While there, he stopped by the Metalab hackerspace and checked out their RepRap rapid prototyping machine. You can see video of his visit above. He had them construct a custom fitted cover for the flash of his point and shoot camera. That’s what we love about rapid prototyping. Many of the projects we cover here solve a particular problem, but would never be considered commercially viable enough to put into production. With the availability of rapid prototyping increasing, hackers can start moving toward producing even more complex objects specific to their needs with a finish closer to commercial products.

3D printer uses office paper

Mcor Technologies recently launched a brand new rapid prototyping machine. The Mcor Matrix forgoes the standard of expensive and rare build materials by using A4 office paper. The machine selectively deposits glue on the sheet of paper: more glue on the cross-section, less on the waste. It then uses a blade to cut out the part profile. The vertical resolution is determined by the paper thickness. You can use either 20lb paper, which has a thickness of .1mm, or 40lb, which is twice as thick, so it will build twice as fast. The final part can be sanded and painted like wood. The idea is similar to LOM, but those machines require specialized paper. It’s nice to see a company intentionally target a low cost of ownership. If they had used a laser though, you’d only have to worry about sourcing the glue. Machine and material prices have yet to be announced.

[via Fabbaloo]

Lasercut RepRap kit

The RepRap is a self-copying 3D printer. The project has published plans for creating a lasercut acrylic version of the device. They call it a RepStrap since once assembled it could produce printed plastic versions of the machine components, bootstrapping true RepRaps. The plans are available for Ponoko an on-demand product service, and it would cost ~$380 if you used their service. The plans are free, so you could get them manufactured by other means. [vik] is still putting together the assembly instructions. He hopes to have an all inclusive electronics kit at some point too. This is another great step towards putting desktop manufacturing within reach of everyone.