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Planet reprap-core-team

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 17:43
    Custom G-code Generation with Mecode

    If you've ever wanted to hard-code gcode but still retain some scripting flexibility (for art, science, or engineering), Jack Minardi just posted a custom g-code generation package he's been working on... it looks great.

    Checkout the RepRap wiki entryand
    also the github repo with instructions

    This could be a big win for 3d printing sacrificial inks like sugars and pluronics where each extruded filament position needs to be placed with precise (x,y,z) coordinates. And for arcs and meanders, there are built-in functions too! Very exciting. From the Github README:

    To use, simply instantiate the G object and use its methods to trace your desired tool path.

    from mecode import G
    g = G()
    g.move(10, 10) # move 10mm in x and 10mm in y
    g.arc(x=10, y=5, radius=20, direction='CCW') # counterclockwise arc with a radius of 5
    g.meander(5, 10, spacing=1) # trace a rectangle meander with 1mm spacing between passes
    g.abs_move(x=1, y=1) # move the tool head to position (1, 1)
    g.home() # move the tool head to the origin (0, 0)

    We got a chance to meet Jack at MRRF and everyone had a great time. Jack Minardi is currently a Research Fellow at Lewis Lab at Harvard.

  • Friday, February 14, 2014 - 01:38
    Join us at 2014 Midwest RepRap Festival (MRRF), Goshen, Indiana, USA

    I'm really looking forward to this!!


    The 2014 Midwest RepRap Festival in Elkhart County Indiana is the place to be March 14-16th. This event is totally FREE to come and attend, there are no tickets, no entry fees, just come hang out all weekend and hang out with other 3D printer guys and gals, but please fill out the RSVP form by following the link above so we know how many people to expect. This event will feature build-events, guest speakers and more!
    Highlights of the event:

    STATE OF REPRAP Come hear Josef Prusa speak on the state of Reprap.
    TEST AND TUNE Experts will be on hand to help you troubleshoot issues or take your prints to the next level!  The event is FULL of people who want to see everyone become an expert.  Whether it’s a simple question about a software setting, a new mechanical design, recommendations on where to go to get into reprap or more, don’t hesitate to ask anyone at the event.
    MEET THE MAKERS  Meet some of the big names in RepRap, like MaxBots (Mendel MAX dev), Josef Prusa (Prusa Mendel/i3 and more), Logxen (Smoothieboard Dev) and many more
    CRAZY NEW REPRAPS  Nicolas Seward (RepRap WALLY, SIMPSON, LISA) will be showing off his newest reprap creations, and talking about the unique features of his designs
    BUILD EVENTS  More to come soon on Build events ….
    3D PRINTING CHALLENGES  See some of the most difficult prints take shape over the course of the weekend, and some fun printing challenges too, like the hand-fed extruder print challenge

  • Monday, December 2, 2013 - 16:05
    RS Components distributing RepRaps

    This blog is for the RepRap Project, and so I do not normally post information here about the activities of our company, RepRapPro Ltd.  See our company blog for that sort of thing.

    No.  The reason for this post is that from today a seriously major international company - RS Components, the world’s largest distributor of electronics and
    maintenance products - will be stocking and selling completely open-source RepRap kits.  And in the future they hope to be selling components for RepRaps.  In particular they want to sell vitamins-only kits so that people can print their own RepRaps.

    For more details see RS's blog post here, and, of course, their catalogue here.

  • Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 12:02
    Heated Piezo for Jetting Wax (and other stuff)

    I'd just like to draw everyone's attention to this really nice RepRap heated (ink)jet head by Mike Alden, shown here printing wax.

    Details are on the RepRap Wiki here.

  • Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 21:24
    2013 AMRI Fellowships Wrap-Up and Final Presentations

    Thanks to all our supporters near and far, AMRI 2013 summer Fellowships were a tremendous success!

    We have launched the new AMRI website at AMRInstitute.org and will be populating it with documentation and more formal write-ups of each Fellow over the next month or so.

    Read More about AMRI at Rice University here.
    Rice also did a great video about what we've been up to:

    You can also watch the 2013 AMRI Fellows final presentations via this youtube playlist:

    HUGE thanks to all of our sponsors and supporters (especially all those in the #reprap IRC channel)!! We couldn't have done it without you!

    We look forward to continuing the conversation about what AMRI is and what it should become. Let us know your thoughts!

  • Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 05:24
    Announcing AMRI: Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute

    UPDATE: AMRI FINAL PRESENTATIONS ARE ABOUT TO BEGIN! FRIDAY AUGUST 23rd, 4 pm central time USA -- UStream link is HERE: http://ustre.am/13UpB

    We will also take questions via #reprap IRC channel.

    We are starting an experiment.

    Will it succeed? If we knew ahead of time, it wouldn't be an experiment, now would it? :D

    For a while now, several of us have been thinking of a way to positively and constructively reinforce the unbelievable talent in the #reprap community, focus thinking, structure projects, and landscape a general framework in which progress can be made.

    So today I'm pleased to announce the launch of AMRI: Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute.

    Inspired by Google Summer of Code and work going on at Blender Foundation, AMRI seeks a return to some of the ideals behind the RepRap Research Foundation. The goal is to provide breakthrough mentorship, infrastructure, and research funding for promising young makers to pursue their interests using the scientific method.

    The summer fellowship program currently has two components:
    1) engineering design challenge
    optionally followed by:
    2) fundamental scientific investigation (pending the success of the engineering design challenge)

    The end goal is unreservedly profit, if by "profit" you mean: gaining knowledge. Financial gains can be important, though they are secondary considerations at AMRI.

    Here, we are taking a concerted effort to apply the scientific method to challenges in advanced manufacturing.

    We have four outstanding fellows and amazing research projects about to get underway here at Rice University:

    This year, AMRI runs from August 1st-August 31st. We have already started. This fellowship program is is an experiment. A soft-launch. We have some makers that were personally invited to take part in our experiment, sketch out research projects critical to Science, and make progress.


    Cool, so who's paying for this?

    We have secured sponsorship so far from Rice University, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Ultimachine, Ultimaker, MakerGear, and SeeMeCNC. Thank you all! We are open to additional sponsorship... Contact us! 

    We are taking tax-deductible donations of any amount through Rice University's 501(c)3 here. The charge to your account will read "RICE-IT WEB SRVC"
    Donations will be used to help support the current projects, and any excess funds then organized to launch AMRI publicly and openly for Summer 2014 projects. We are currently running AMRI strictly through donations.

    READ MORE after the jump...

    When specifically does the August project begin, and how long will it run for?

    The program this year is officially from August 1st - 31st. We will have formal presentations on Friday August 23rd in Houston, TX. We hope to livestream the presentations and also upload them online afterwards via the RepRap blog. I will note that all of the fellows are so amped for this event that many of them have working prototypes already done. If successful this year we hope to extend AMRI fellowships to run the entire summer in future years.

    Will the initial program consist of the fellows, or are there others students involved that the fellows work with?

    The four fellows this year will draw inspiration and advice from many sources in our state-of-the-art research facility at Rice University. There will be undergraduate and graduate students around that will inform many of their research directions. Most of the fellows have little-to-no recent training in Biology but have a lot of know-how on the "Maker" side. So the vision is to get them together interacting with experts in the field to help focus their goals on fundamental research questions that they and our resident scientists are after. 

    On the flip-side, many of our best bioengineering students have little to no exposure or experience with what is commonly done in the Maker-movement. So I expect there to be great interactions within our labs. I have noticed this potential synergy extensively by bouncing back and forth between makerspaces and research labs. Each side has a phenomenal amount they can learn from each other. We aim to formally bring them together with AMRI.

    Zach "Hoeken" Smith, co-founder of MakerBot and a RepRap Core Developer, has agreed to serve on the advisory board. Josef Prusa, another RepRap Core Developer, will also be available in person towards the end of August to help provide additional guidance. We are still framing things. Things are in flux. This is a good thing. We are open to constructive criticism.

    As part of the mission of AMRI Rice, the Fellows will also take part in a 4-day Advances in Tissue Engineering Short Course where they will receive a 32-hr crash-course in all the very latest in tissue engineering research from thought leaders from around the world. This ATE short course is described here.

    Within their research project, do AMRI Fellows have specific goals they're trying to achieve within that timeframe? 

    The initial framework is as follows, to be developed jointly by the Mentor and the Fellow: 

    1) Each project has an engineering design phase with three components: 

    A) Define, Design and Develop -- accurately depicting the design criteria, assessing different designs that fit within budget constraints, and developing a plan of attack to make the equipment 

    B) Quantify and Qualify -- What are the equipment specifications? Under what conditions can it operate? With what materials? What are the relevant tolerances that can be expected? Next -- measure them. Were they accurately predicted? How closely did they match up? Are we still on budget target? A redesign may be required depending on how far out of specification the equipment has become. 

    C) Document and Deploy -- A key component of any project, and one that too often gets overlooked, is the documentation for that equipment and sufficient details and instruction for others to deploy or repurpose the equipment completely independent. Documentation and deployment will be key components throughout all of AMRI. 

    2) If engineering design phase is completed and a working prototype has been made, the remaining time can be used to explore a specific scientific question. For Laser-sintering the focus is on 3D printed carbohydrate glass for vascularized living engineered tissues. For DLP photolithography we will be encapsulating living mammalian cells and assessing their viability. For the bacterial ink-jet printer and the bacterial cell-struder we will be looking at cell-cell interactions and tuning complex multicellular behaviors. Scientific findings take much longer to investigate and verify because of the complexity of working with living cells, but we may get a glimpse of some exciting future directions with the work of these outstanding fellows.

    Will they be given a research lab? What type of equipment will they have access to? 

    AMRI fellows have access to nearly 1000 sq. ft. in our state of the art BRC research facility at Rice that will be setup for AMRI fellows for August. The fellows will have access to whatever equipment and mentors they need. 3D Printers, electronics and soldering workstations, laser cutters, milling machines, and most importantly, a healthy research budget.

    How can I get involved?

    JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION: Join the mailing list. You can see how some of the projects are shaping up, vet this idea with us, provide feedback.

    DONATE: You can donate tax-deductible funds directly to AMRI through Rice University's 501c3 here. 

    STAY TUNED: AMRI final presentations (5 min each) will commence on Friday August 23rd. We hope to broadcast them live and take questions via the Internet.

  • Friday, August 2, 2013 - 13:35
    New open source slicer: CuraEngine!

    "Cura is the name of a divine figure whose name means "Care" or "Concern""

    Source: Wikipedia

    Ever heard of Cura? Besides a divine figure, it's a 3D printing solution that is meant to be useful and usable to both beginning and advanced 3D printer users. David Braam is full-time developer of Cura, at Ultimaker. We recently released version 13.06, which was a major update. Compared to the previous version it looked... well ...exactly the same. But on the back-end, the engine that generates the toolpath from the mesh-surface model (e.g. the STL or AMF) was replaced by a new engine, written entirely from scratch.

    The short summary is for this initial release:

    • Faster slicing
      What took hours now takes seconds. Also, this enabled us to create the following two features.
    • On-the-fly model preparation
      There is no slicing button anymore because it starts processing right-away.
    • Live tweaking of slicing parameters
      Because you see toolpaths re-appear whenever you change a setting, you can quicky find the optimal settings for your print job.
    • Model fixing
      The engine can fix major problem in a model.
    • Multiple materials
      The engine was built from the start with multi-head printing in mind.
    • Cross-platform
      The Engine is written in C++ and released for Linux, Windows & Mac. Compilation on these and other platform should be trivial.
    • Open source
      The license is Affero GPLv3.

    The main goals for this new engine were to be able to implement innovative features that improve the quality of 3D printed objects, and to create a code structure that encourages further development. An intermediate goal was to release it with the baseline feature set that is common in slicing engines, including the ability to robustly handle many kinds of (problematic) models and generate support structures.

    A nice side effect of the new slicer is that it turns out to be fast, really fast. We decided to do something unconventional: removing the "Prepare for printing" button from Cura's interface entirely. It will just start slice the model in the background (with a low-priority). If you change the layer height or any other setting, it will just restart. If you don't change settings, it may already have finished before you're thinking to save the resulting G-Code to an SD card or print directly through USB. An extra, pretty useful, side-effect is that you can inspect the generated toolpath, change the settings and see the new toolpath preview appear automatically and quickly, without pushing a button.

    Because Cura is developed to work with the Ultimaker and most other RepRap-based designs, we'd like to ask you what you think of the new engine. Also, because, like Cura (source), the Engine is released under the Affero GPL version 3, we'd love to see anyone benefit from this new solution and possibly help us improve it further.

    Below is a 45-minute presentation on the Cura release, focusing mostly on the new Cura Engine.

    Below is the interview with David by Andrew of 3DHacker.com:

  • Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 18:04
    ShopBot Desktop as a 3D Printer for Sugar Glass

    Hi, So for Bioengineering research I've been looking for a way to improve precision and reproducibility of each print with a bit less consideration on cost (this is for working with human cells eventually, safety and sterility are more important than cost). The main constraint is I need it to be able to print sugar glass and use my BariCUDA extruder, which means the extruder mount needs to support a few pounds without having any problems.

    Kliment in #reprap suggested I modify a ShopBot Desktop, and so that's exactly what we did. With awesome help from Gordon at ShopBot and Johnny at Ultimachine, we were able to get things going. Also, MAJOR props to Erik Zalm who maintains Marlin firmware for helping us get everything going. NOTE: BARICUDA is now a #define in Marlin so you can turn on/off sugar printing functionality on your RAMBo with a simple switch. Thanks again Erik!

    We took out the brains of the ShopBot, left the gecko stepper drivers, replaced the brains with a RAMBo board from Ultimachine. We used the motor ext pins on the RAMBo board that we then sent the step and direction pulses to, and fed them directly into the stepper drivers using a modified 37 pin connector. My modified Marlin Firmware is available here: https://github.com/jmil/Marlin Here's the setup and some more details in the first video:

    The ShopBot is all acme rod for movement, and it can drive the motors very fast because the large motors (NEMA 34?) are held at 48 V. So you don't lose steps. It's still open loop motion control, but it has been awesome. This RepStrap has been fantastic for sugar printing and it is being used every day in the lab at UPenn.

    Now that I am setting up a new lab at Rice University in Houston TX, I am very excited to get another one! Forward SCIENCE! Did I mention you should contact me if you want to come do a Sabbatical? We need more specialized repraps for Bioengineering. More on that next month. :D

    Here's the final video printing sugar glass on a ShopBot Desktop:

  • Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 18:32
    3D printers shown to emit potentially harmful nanosized particles

    I am reposting this out of physorg.com.  It appears that we have might have a problem not so much with the outgassing from our printers but from nanoparticles produced by our extruders during the printing process.  Those of us who aren't already making arrangements for ventilation should possibly consider doing so.

    3D printers shown to emit potentially harmful nanosized particles
  • Monday, July 8, 2013 - 23:53
    Your 3D print in the London Science Museum

    The Science Museum in London is producing an exhibition on 3D printing.

    It is intended to feature as part of it's introduction a wall of 3D printed items, of all shapes, sizes, colours and materials.

    To highlight the open and social aspect of 3D printing the Museum's Rohan Mehra would like to invite members of the RepRap community to donate an object to this introductory display.

    Your name would be added to a panel thanking all contributors.

    If you have created a physical 3D printed object you can freely send in, please e-mail Rohan:


    Rohan Mehra
    Exhibition Content Developer
    Science Museum
    London SW7

  • Thursday, July 4, 2013 - 22:19
    RepRap Morgan by Quentin Harley wins the Gada Prize!

    I'm delighted to announce that Quentin Harley's RepRap Morgan design has won the Uplift Interim Personal Manufacturing Prize, the funding for which was most generously provided by Kartik Gada.

    In Second Place was 'Simpson' by Nicholas Seward and in Third Place was '3DPrintMi' by Chris Lau.

  • Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 01:10
    Why is 3D printing such a powerful way to make solid objects?

    Journalists often ask me what is special about 3D printing.  So I answer them.  And then they don't print what I say.  The reason is that they are frightened by mathematics, or that they think that their readers are.

    But you RepRap Blog readers eat mathematical arguments for breakfast.  So here, for the record, is the answer:

    Why is 3D printing such a powerful way to make solid objects?
    To answer this question we first have to ask another: “In what ways can the shape of a solid object be complicated?”
    Often things just get more complicated the more of them there are. If you are a bank with a million customers who have account numbers and your computer has to sort them into order, then that is a more complicated problem than it would be if you only had a thousand customers.
    But shapes aren't just complicated like that. They can be complicated in two other ways as well.

    This picture (thanks to my old friend John Woodwark for the idea for this) shows all three ways that shapes can be complicated:
    1. First there is “combinatorial” complexity – that is the lots-of-bank-account-numbers complexity: a gear wheel has more bits to it than a triangle does;
    2. Second there is “analytical” complexity – triangles are made of straight lines, which have simple equations. But complicated curved shapes have correspondingly complicated equations;
    3. And third there is “dimensional” complexity – a triangle is two-dimensional, but a pyramid is three-dimensional.
    These three complexities are independent. You can have any mix of them.
    But if you want a computer to control a machine to make shapes automatically, then dimensional complexity is the most difficult complexity to deal with. This is because, as the number of dimensions increases, the very nature of shape changes. Here are just a couple of examples:
    1. If you have some points round a 2D circle you can visit them in order one after another; but if you have some points on a 3D sphere, there is no order that places them one after another; and
    2. If you have a piece of string, you can tangle it in 3D (as any kitten will be able to demonstrate); but a piece of string in 2D is simpler, and so cannot be tangled.
    Bearing this in mind, lets look at the difficulty of getting a computer to control machines to make something automatically in two ways: by cutting the thing from a solid block, and by 3D printing the thing layer by layer.

    Here is a turbocharger from a car engine. And the object top left with the yellow tip is a cutting tool that is removing material from a solid block to reveal the turbocharger like a sculptor chiselling a block of marble. To make the turbocharger the computer has to figure out how to move the yellow cutter.
    Rather surprisingly (as we live in a 3D world) the cutter can move in five dimensions. These are the normal three: left-right, front-back, and up-down, plus rotations about those directions. The rotations are needed because the cutter must twist to cut the shape. That totals six dimensions, but rotation about the axis of the cutter itself doesn't count, which leaves five dimensions.
    The computer controlling the cutter needs to work out how to move it around in that five-dimensional space. And not only that, it has to make sure that no part of the cutter (like the conical bit at the top where it attaches to the cutting machine) collides with any un-cut part of the raw block, or with the turbocharger being made.
    This is a very very difficult mathematical and computational problem, and we still (2013) can only solve it for some shapes, even though we know the computer should theoretically be able to be cut out others that we can't (at the moment) solve.

    Now let's look at the turbocharger being made on a 3D printer. This will start at the bottom and build the first layer of the turbocharger. Then it will move up a fraction and build the next layer. And so on.
    The right hand picture shows a layer about half way up, and this is all that the computer has to deal with at each stage – a 2D problem, not a 5D one.
    It is very easy to program a computer to deal with such 2D shapes, and – for this reason – 3D printing machines can make any shape that the physics of the machine can handle, no matter how complicated that shape is. And, unlike with cutting, there is no problem of collisions. The computer always knows that it can move the 3D printer freely above the layer being printed, because there is nothing there yet.
    (In reality, a tiny amount of 3D has to be dealt with: a 3D printer has to put disposable support material under any overhangs, because it can't build layers on thin air. But this is a very easy calculation to do. The computer works out the 2D slices starting at the top of the object and goes downwards. At any level the support material needed is the shape of everything in the layer above minus the shape of everything in this layer. When the computer has done all this, it then reverses the order and builds from the bottom up.)
    This simplicity of the computing and mathematics of 3D printing is the reason that it is humanity's most powerful manufacturing technology: the computer controlling a 3D printer will always have a much easier problem to solve than a computer cutting out the object being made, no matter how complicated the object is. And because of that, 3D printing is by far the most versatile way we have to make things.