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 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.
[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.
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.
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.
The RepRap project, which is a printer that can make components using rapid prototyping technology, and it is designed so that it can eventually self replicate. Has released a new breakout board for the Sanguino that provides access to all the pins as screw terminals. The Sanguino is an Arduino compatible board based on the ATmega644P chip. You can populate the full board with all the components and have a fully functional single board. You could populate only the screw terminals and plug your Sanguino, and use it as a breakout board as well. The board design is released on Google Code.
I’ve received a few tips on this, and somehow it keeps slipping by. The fab@home project immediately reminds me of reprap. This is a completely open source hardware project for rapid prototyping/3d modeling. In the past, manufacturing something like a turkey baster bulb required injection molding. The project wiki has full details on building your own, including manufacturing houses to get all the acrylic laser cut. It looks like you could get your hands on one of these pretty easily if you don’t mind making a dent in your wallet. Thanks to [nickjohnson] and [peter B]. [peter B] also noted that the cornell boys have an even nicer one that they use to make zinc-air batteries and artificial muscles.
If you happen to be in Berlin on December 27th, you might want to sign up for Fabienne’s wifi detector hacking workshop at 23c3.