The Midwest RepRap Festival Spectacular

Every year, nestled between a swine auction and beef auction at the fairgrounds in Goshen, Indiana, the world’s greatest 3D-printing meetup happens. The Midwest RepRap Festival draws the greatest minds in 3D printing from around the world, with teams flying in from Prague, Oxford, and Hong Kong. This year was bigger than any other year. Over 1,000 people ventured forth into the sticks to attend this awesome festival dedicated to DIY printers.

What did we see this year? The PartDaddy, SeeMeCNC’s 18-foot-tall delta printer made an appearance. We saw a new extruder from E3D, and an announcement that Open Source filaments will soon be a reality. True color printing with a five filament CMYKW system is weird and cool. DIY resin printers using laser diodes and galvos are now a thing. An Easy Break Oven isn’t broken. Printers with an infinite build volume now exist, and it skirts around a MakerBot patent, too.

There was more to see at MRRF than a single weekend would allow. [Jason Kridner] from BeagleBone was there talking about the latest in fancy single-chip Linux computers. Hackerspaces were there talking about their coolest builds and doing the calculations necessary to strap model rocket engines to 3D printed rockets. A few local colleges sent teams out to talk about their efforts to bring additive manufacturing to their programs. YouTube personalities were there. Check out the rest of the goodies we saw below.

Panoramas while in full swing

Click to embiggen

Double the volume of your $200 Monoprice printer

This weekend, [Bill Steele] brought out his unnamed infinite build volume printer. This was, by far, the most mind-bending innovation we saw at MRRF. This printer was just an experiment, though. [Bill]’s main gig is Polar3D, manufacturers of a printer that isn’t cartesian and isn’t a delta.

[Bill] saw the now-famous $200 Monoprice MP Select Mini printer and figured this was good platform for experimentation. He removed the bed, slapped a gear on the Y-axis motor, and bought a circular mirror at the local craft shop. The result is a Monoprice printer modded to a polar-coordinate printer. It works, and it doubles the build volume of this printer.

The modification to turn the Monoprice printer into a polar printer is actually pretty simple – just a few 3D printed parts are necessary to support the bed, and the drive gear on the bed could probably be a printed part. The hard part is converting normal cartesian G-code into polar G-code, but thanks to the Polar3D printer, [Bill] already has those scripts handy.

The conversion process is relatively simple, and [Bill] says he could sell a kit for about $100. For a $200 printer, that’s not very economical, but it would make a great DIY project.

Squishier Ninjaflex

If you want a part that’s squishy, you’re probably going to pick up a spool of Ninjaflex. Ninjaflex and other TPE and TPU filaments aren’t that squishy, though, which means there’s a market for a Stretch Armstrong of printable plastics. It was at MRRF, and it’s called X60

From a simple grip strength crush test, the X60 filament is much more compressable. It’s much more satisfying to crush than Ninjaflex, and is what you would expect from a truly flexible filament. The only problem with X60 is printing it. Ninjaflex isn’t easy to print with some extruders, and that’s doubly so with X60. Apparently, you can only print X60 with the Flexion extruder. It’s interesting and squishy, though.

Wubba Lubba Dub Dub

Printed Solid brought out their six foot tall Rick from Rick and Morty. Grass tastes bad.

MRRF has a flea market

Last year we noticed something new at MRRF. People were selling spare parts. It was inevitable that a flea market or swap meet would form spontaneously at a 3D printer convention. There were some great deals here, including a The MP Mini Select for $150, a MendelMax 2.0 for $200, an old i2 for $75, and a few quadcopters. If you’re looking to pick up a good printer cheap, MRRF is a great place to do it. Here are the pics:

The second tallest printer at MRRF

[Joe Spanier] from River City Labs brought a monstrous printer to MRRF. The bed isn’t that big, but the vertical build volume is where this thing really shines. This printer can print something seven or eight feet tall. The printer is made out of MDF, with a huge 2 mm nozzle squirting a lot of filament out at a time. The big print here is [mechg]’s single-perimeter rocket plane, scaled a bit too much in the Z-axis.

Can’t wait until next year

MRRF has nearly doubled in size over last year. The Midwest RepRap festival is quickly becoming the defining event for desktop 3D printing and we’re expecting things to be even bigger. MRRF has outgrown its venue, but don’t worry – the Elkhart Country Fairgrounds has much bigger buildings that are available to rent.

MRRF 17 was great, and next year will be even better. We’ll see you there.

4 thoughts on “The Midwest RepRap Festival Spectacular

  1. Probably a silly question but on those huge printers are they making extra long spools of filament? Is there just a splice happening during the print? How big of spools are there?

    1. It varies fron printer to printer. Some use large spools of 3mil filament, some use large custom spoils of what looked to be 6mm filament, and the Part Dadddy creates its filament as part of the extruder with an h-vac system feeding it raw pellets and pigment.

    2. The Lime Green one uses a large spool of 3mm filament and they swapped in a new one about 3/4 the way through. Somewhere around his left hand. You can see the spool held with a random length of conduit on top of the printer.

      The part daddy uses a vacuum to pick up standard plastic pellets and screw extruder.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.