I think eventually we'll converge again. The variety right now is a good thing, because it represents the community catering to those of many different interests, but in the near future it's likely we'll at least settle on certain basics. It already seems like RAMPS, Marlin, and Pronterface are becoming dominant, and Slic3r is rapidly gaining ground over Skeinforge. That leaves the frame, hot end, build platform, etc. There's always going to be a great deal of variety simple because people have different goals. Some people want the cheapest possible machine they can build, others want to work toward self-repliction, still others simply want print quality and speed, etc. Perhaps what's needed is for us to identify which one of these goals a particular component will help you work toward. For example, a pre-assembled hot end with a small nozzle is better for people who care more about quality than price or self-assembly. And a Prusa frame is cheaper to self-source than a rock-solid MendelMax frame, but will still get you better speed and quality than the even-cheaper Wallace frame, etc. etc .etc.
I read through the article a few times and couldn't understand what the point was. Maybe just entertainment. Restated a bunch of things from the past like self replicating. Machines have been building machines for a very long time. There needs to be a standard... why? There are parallels to other developments... sure, what the point?
The point of this isn't in a name, the software, the machine, the next features. Although its fun to read about.
The point is that you can look at a 2D image of something on your computer and within a couple hours hold it in your hand. You didn't ship it from China, you didn't drive to a local store, you didn't have to use expensive equipment in at work. You did it at home.
This is about the maker community and there is nothing to save.
Cheapest Possible RepRap? (Wallace/Printrbot DIY electronics and used motors and Wades)
Most Common RepRap? (Prusa, Ramps, Wades)
Best looking RepRap? (Mendelmax, Ramps, Brustruder)
Best known 3d Printer (Makerbot?)
Most Capitalized RepRap (Botmill?)
Fastest 3d Printer? (Ultimaker)
How about the Laser 3d Printers coming online by ScribbleJ & A2Sheds?
What about machines built around Paste extrusion?
Every one of those answers, and those are by no stretch ALL the answers, are going to scoff at the other answers. Botmill is not going to throw in the towel because MakerGear is the Standard.
The community will continue to scatter, our fabrication methods will continue to expand, and the central idea of what a RepRap is will get more confusing every coming month.
When you get going with RepRap and have been doing it for a while, all this variation is great, interesting and exciting, the more you look the more you find, and you start making changes and machines of your own. That's all great but you need to get into it first...
I always feel a little sorry for the new person who is very excited about the idea of a personal 3D printer, then they start to feel a little overwhelmed by all the options, then starts felling like they need some advice, but usually that just adds to the indecision and then they either wait...... or go and buy a kit (or built) machine from a big supplier with good or bad results, but quite often this decision is not a RepRap.
If we want to make it a little easier for new people to get on-board with RepRap then we should at least be able to point to a easy-to-build, easy-to-source printer.
It's hard to say what's right for everyone out there, but a RepRap machine titled '"this should be your first 3D printer" is a reasonable start.
And that first machine should have as many re-usable parts for the next step in the evolution.
Quite a lot of people that were new to RepRap and very active on this Forum a year ago don't post very often now, I wonder what our fall out rate is?
Any new people to RepRap in the last 6 months, how did you make your decision? what was it? and are you happy?
I always feel a little sorry for the new person who is very excited about the idea of a personal 3D printer, then they start to feel a little overwhelmed by all the options
Yes indeed, a safe or starter option that results in a working system for new builders would be good, like most things its best to start with something that works and then when they have gained experience start modifying firmware etc, some people just want to print things, so they would buy a kit, whilst others may enjoy the whole
process of building from scratch.
Quite a lot of people that were new to RepRap and very active on this Forum a year ago don't post very often now, I wonder what our fall out rate is?
I have noticed a shift of emphasis in the forum, from development to support, although development continues, a great many posts are about support issues and problems with kits.
I agree with the hands of approach, to allow it to go where it will, but at the same time give a guiding hand to new builders, a difficult juggling act..
Let the market progress to a point where you can buy one at your local Target. That won't happen through standardization but hard work by some development orgainzation. Other then the use of metrics is there any true standardization amoung auto manufactures? Probably in some areas where other maufactures supply key components like fuel, tires, batteries, ect. I just don't see that happening in printers, other then the filiment.
I agree that this forum has gone from development to support. I've seen an increasing number of 'new' folks jumping into this and not taking the time to read issues/solutions that are discussed over and over again. Thats whats driving experianced builders away.
I'm a last 6 months repraper
I've built a prussa, I went with the prussa because it seemed most popular
I went with ramps because it had the extra extruder capability. - got as a kit and soldered up. didn't have any problem with that, except for that diode not being too clear.
the stepper motors I chose are not ideal and overheat, I went with them because they were what was easily available where I live.I've ordered better ones but they'll take a while to get here.
The best standard you can make at this point is part quality.
ie - part x must have at least y fill if made from PLA or z if ABS
holes need to be the right size or drilled out.
the other thing you really need is to tidy up the wiki, and add to it.
there's lots of good info there, but it's all a splintered mess. not easy to find.
how to wire up the steppers is one problem that keeps popping up.
how to create manifold models is something else that I can't find mentioned.(or even what non manifold IS)
how to create a thermistor table is something else I had trouble with. there's a good calculator here: [calculator.josefprusa.cz]
but no instructions on how to use it.
troubleshooting problems is a hard one, maybe tackling that in reverse as well would be a good idea. break it down into settings and give examples of what happens at the extremes ie, temprature too high will give strings, to low will create weak parts on the z axis.
printing too fast can cause the hotend to not keep up and result in missed steps on the Emotor and or slipping of the filiment on the hobbled bolt, as well as increased lash on other axes.
wiki pages need links. to other pages and categorized better there's currently three (or maybe more) pages on calibration, which are not linked or grouped in any way.
We should all settle on the exact same model of printer, just the same way we all drive the exact same car, use the exact same cell phone (or rotary dial land line), and have the exact same computer setup. There is no room for individual preferences, we must conform to a single pattern.
Innovation is why we aren't all driving Ford Model T's, using land lines for all of our phone calls, and still using an original IBM XT with a 5" floppy drive.
Excuse me while I try and find a gas station with leaded fuel using my Rand McNally fold up map.
Maybe we will all just keep on answering the same questions over and over again.
Everyone can choose whatever direction they like and options are good.
The point was to think about helping the undecided and unsure with a sensible first choice they won't regret.
For an example, The Printrbot option made the decision easy for a lot of people. RepRap in general should be that easy to get started for everyone.
if we get loads of help requests from Printrbot users in the next few months we can think again. If not then maybe the Printrbot has proved itself to be an excellent first 3D printer.
> Any new people to RepRap in the last 6 months, how
> did you make your decision?
> what was it? and are
> you happy?
Early on I realised there were too many choices to research them all, so I went for
what seemed the modal choice - a Prusa Mendel. Along with 'tried & tested' RAMPS.
I made choices based on what I read, eg ABS parts rather than PLA to maybe avoid warping. I steered away from what appeared to be areas of difficulty - e.g. making your own hobbed bolt.
Initially I simplified by excluding the HBP. I've since added that.
Software choices maybe could have been better, I went with pronterface/skeinforge, but will soon shift to slic3r. Thanks BTW for the slic3r set up details on your blog. Pretty happy with the choices overall.
Expect I'll see you on Saturday!
Prusa Mendel /Parcan Mk 2/1280 RAMPS 1.4/PC XP OS/Pronterface/Slic3r
> We should all settle on the exact same model of
> printer, just the same way we all drive the exact
> same car, use the exact same cell phone (or rotary
> dial land line), and have the exact same computer
> setup. There is no room for individual
> preferences, we must conform to a single pattern.
This is a completely hyperbolic statement. If you want an analogy, look at a linux distrubution: there is a stable release every 6 months or so, depending on their timetable. That stable release helps everyone have a baseline for support or further development.
Our last official standard was the Sells mendel. It was stable enough that the instruction set it very complete, with everything from the electronics to the hot end to even installing the software is included. Everything since then has been an evolution of that standard (and constantly refers back to the standard).
An example of the work that needs to be done: the Geard Extruder Nozzle is a bad design. it's very likely to fail, especially for new users. if it survives your first prints, it likely won't survive it's first cleaning, and each cleaning after drastically increases the odds of failure. most users, if careful, only get 1 year out if it. These problems are pretty clear these days (to us), yet most kits use this or similar designs. And why shouldn't they? It's the standard linked to by the mendel build instructions (if you look hard enough). You'd only know of these issues if you spend time reading on these forums. New users are wasting their time struggling with an old, bad design and we have to continually answer questions about these problems. The longer we wait to adopt a new standard, the more options there are (which is good) but the harder it is to develop a consensus (which is bad, esp. for documentation).
And remember; this is ONLY about Reprap and our community; not the maker community, and the wider 3d printer community.
> An example of the work that needs to be done: the
> Geard Extruder Nozzle is a bad design. it's very
> likely to fail, especially for new users. if it
> survives your first prints, it likely won't
> survive it's first cleaning, and each cleaning
> after drastically increases the odds of failure.
> most users, if careful, only get 1 year out if it.
> These problems are pretty clear these days (to
So what are the points of failure in this design and why?
I chose a prusa mendel as it was the most common I could find and seemed to be the most easily accessible in terms of both sourcing parts and getting advice. The visual manual played a key part in me choosing the Prusa. Being able to visualise how something is put together makes you want to build it some how.
When I was first looking I didnt really want to build one. I was going to buy a kit. But the more I looked into it the simpler these machines became. Yes there are lots of options to choose from which can be overwhelming but once you have decided on electronics etc they really are simple pieces of equipment.
We have a Stratasys machine at work and I can tell you that repraps are by far one of the simpler forms of 3d printer out there. All you have to do is show people how simple they really are. Perhaps a visual marketing strategy showing all the components assembled and quickly labelling some of the main components and how they work?
> When I was first looking I didnt really want to
> build one. I was going to buy a kit. But the more
> I looked into it the simpler these machines
> became. Yes there are lots of options to choose
> from which can be overwhelming but once you have
> decided on electronics etc they really are simple
> pieces of equipment.
Thank you for saying this.
I always believed that RepRap isn't hard, and it just takes some time to understand the concept and construction basics. The problem is when you've been playing around with RepRap for a few years, it's difficult to see if you've become biased. And a comment like that - coming from one like me - could alienate some newcomers.
Is there a quick 3 minute youtube video that sells RepRap while describing every step and pitfall you have to look for when starting out? No, because a video like that would be several hours long and even then probably very vendor specific. Is it possible to learn how to build a RepRap by reading the wiki and forum only? Definitively! I did it, and my mechanical skills were (and still are) far inferior to most of the newcomers. It just takes some dedication.
This will sound very harsh and elitist, but RepRap is (at the moment) probably better off if it's a bit difficult to get into. Then the people who only want to learn things that's easy digestible in 2 minute chunks, will rather start out with a UP! or Ultimaker where they pay for support. We benefit from reprappers that can hold their own, so we don't have to spend our time only giving out free support. Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't help each other out, but 9 out of 10 times the problem have already been discussed in detail elsewhere on the forum, but people can't be bothered to do a quick search for it.
There are probably thousands of people building RepRaps on their own that we haven't heard from at all; because they know how to search for information by themselves.
> So what are the points of failure in this design
> and why?
the ptfe fails at the top of the threads. might be mechanical stress from an improperly tensioned support block, or thermal stress, or a filament plug causing too much pressure and weaking it from the inside.
thermal and support block issues seem to be the main cause of failure for new users. And every time you clean the nozzle, you make the seal weaker between the ptfe and brass.
Even if you reassemble it correctly every time, the ptfe will eventually creep and deform enough that it will start to leak. This seems to be about 1-1.5 years max.
the solution is to use a different material entirely as the thermal barrier and line it with some ptfe tubing (to reduce friction on the interior walls.
> , but RepRap
> is (at the moment) probably better off if it's a
> bit difficult to get into. Then the people who
> only want to learn things that's easy digestible
> in 2 minute chunks, will rather start out with a
> UP! or Ultimaker where they pay for support. We
> benefit from reprappers that can hold their own,
> so we don't have to spend our time only giving out
> free support
It depends on your goals: do you want RepRap to be a successful project, or do you want to serve your own needs only? Successful open source projects consistently focus on lowering the barrier to newcomers, and I don't see why open hardware projects should be any different.
> It depends on your goals: do you want RepRap to be
> a successful project, or do you want to serve your
> own needs only? Successful open source projects
> consistently focus on lowering the barrier to
> newcomers, and I don't see why open hardware
> projects should be any different.
True, though one could argue RepRap has proven to be very successful already, no?
As much as I love RepRap, I can't see it becoming a super beginner friendly end customer solution right now. Just like I wouldn't recommend my grandmother to build a custom computer from scratch, but rather to buy a dell-whatever from a local store, with local support. The computer would be inferior and more expensive, but it caters to her needs in a much better way. If my grandmother lived next door though, I would probably help her build a custom computer. It's not difficult, you just need a bit of supervision, and just like that RepRap does and will grow by friends helping each other out.
Where RepRap already does and will truly shine is when the commercial kits and printers that are popping up all over the place start to get old and outdated. You can at any time print the latest RepRap model, and it will be better (or at least at par) with your month/year old commercial printer. If you start out with a commercial more-expensive-but-more-accessible printer, it will give you the experience and confidence to build your own printer later. This is how most of us started out with computers, so think of all the kids growing up with a 3D printer in their house!
Then again, lowering the entry barrier is a good idea. Here is a quick draft I did a while back, channelling newcomers into IRC. Making a few images like this with the basics, or even a quick youtube video to explain how and where to get answers fast, could perhaps help a lot of the people missing out on RepRap?
> As much as I love RepRap, I can't see it becoming
> a super beginner friendly end customer solution
> right now.
> Then again, lowering the entry barrier is a good
Yeah - that was more my point - that "isn't it kind of good to have a barrier to entry" is a really unhelpful line of thought. Whatever the barrier to entries are for your project, it is always good to lower them as long as you're not compromising the principles of your project.
As you say - RepRapping requires a certain set of skills and a certain about of patience. But any effort to reduce the barrier to entry is a good thing and should be encouraged.
To put it another way, people need a lot of enthusiasm to get into RepRapping, but you want that enthusiasm to be channeled into pushing the RepRap project forward, not into repeating the same mistakes of every other newcomer.
By way of example, I help run an open source project - a PHP CMS called SilverStripe. We've made the call that the best way to customise it is to write PHP code, rather than building bloated web UIs. This requirement of needing to know PHP does create a barrier to entry, and despite that we've said "being able configure everything in a web UI is not a goal of this project". However, we've worked to lower the barriers to entry in other ways, such as improving the installer, the tutorials, support forums, etc.
I did read the article carefully, but I think it's seriously misguided. It's also confusing, because what he means by "standard" he really means a "simple choice for newbies". Evolution requires variation, it is the price you pay for innovation.
Where standards are important is in interoperability of end use, e.g. cars are designed to run on a set of well specified fuels, plus some standards for things like safety. Outside of that, the designers have a largely free reign, and we end up with hundreds of variations of basically the same thing, but designed to appeal to different users.
The way round that is not to specify an official government approved design which all manufacturers should adhere to. The way forward is for users to become more educated about their choice, and by people reviewing and rating designs to inform that choice. There are magazines and websites which do that for most products. Sites like Amazon allow users to review and rate the products.
Trying to guide or influence development along some sort of consensus "best design" is not going to work. There may be some benefit in creating an entry level template, based on current popular components. I wondered if some annual Oscars might be an idea - "best quality", "best value", "best for beginners" etc.
As noted, until you buy 3D printers at your local supermat, they will be in the domain of enthusiasts. As such, it does not make any sense to restrict innovation.
Im a newby. Ok i havent even bought my printer yet, im still mulling over which exact model i want. Heres my take on the problems ive ran into so far. I agree there are so many different models and variations its enough to make your head spin. And it is mega confusing to a new comer trying to figure out whats what and whats different about each different model or brand name. Im sure i will be in here asking questions and searching the threads. The larger your community grows the more people will be needing help. Its just part of the process, if anything it should be an indicator as to the success of the project. To try and standardize something that is suppose to change and evolve is just stupid. That sounds like a sure way to stifle new thinking and growth. The people buying and building the 3d printers will decide what is standard and what is not in the end. What works well will stick around and what doesnt wont last. Its just like computers, cars and everything else. The market will decide.
At least until the Chinese start selling cheap kits for 1/4th the price of everyone already in the market. And make no mistake. As it becomes more popular, they will.
I'm a noob to but iv'e been lurking around off and on since darwin there was a comment I saw(maybe on the makerbot forums) when the number of commercial kits and variations started to grow and people were wondering what the best option was. what was said then is probably still good advice today. and that advice is(totally butchered and paraphrased)
person1: the less money a printer costs you the more time you sink into it
person2: dude all printers are time sinks lulz
my point is even without buying a kit you can with relative ease source the parts from popular respected channels and get a decent machine for $500-800 just start with what ever set of prusa parts you can get your hands on and buy the hardware to match. its when you want the extreme (for example the cheapest or the best value) that things can get dizzy.
I think everyone is getting this right. That's the easy way out of the argument, but I think the biggest problem with this article and with what we are discussing is that a lot of us have different ideas when we say "Save RepRap". When I first saw the article, my thought was, "Hell, RepRap seem to be doing pretty damn well. I guess no one has been checking up on the awesome development that's been happening."
I think what the guys at Hackaday were driving at is RepRap is super intimidating for people to get into if they've never done anything like this before or have some technical experience and a set of standards or a package labeled "Start Here!" would help get people into it. I mean this isn't an Ikea dining set or something, this takes real understanding and patience to get stuff right and create a good printer. You can say that my Grandparents aren't going to buy a kit from somewhere and then spend their weekend soldering up a RAMPS kit. And if that's what is meant by "Saving RepRap", making it more available, easier to get into, a set of guidelines... then I think some organization is needed not saving.
If we do go down this path of trying to set a standard for RepRap, then I think we will be changing, intrinsically, what RepRap is. I would be very worried if all the designs and alternatives that are out there on thingiverse or floating around the interwebs were deemed not up to standards. It wouldn't be the same.
I'm a graduate student at Cal State Long Beach and brought in my Prusa to a club meeting and offered to help get people into the project and print out, for students at no extra cost other than materials, a set of printed parts. What snowballed from there is a new RepRap club and now were doing a sort of "RepRap Literacy" and build event series. We're building 22 printers and quite a few of these students and faculty have little or no technical experience. Our first build day, everyone soldered their own Ramps shield. Many had never soldered before that day and by the end, they were all pretty damn good and everyone's board worked.
I guess what I'm saying is that rather than trying to "Save RepRap" with some set of standards, maybe we just need some more sense of community. Get active locally at universities, high schools or hackerspaces if you really want to Save RepRap. Help other people get into it by answering emails, post a little bit more in forums. Otherwise I think we are doing just fine.
> Any new people to RepRap in the last 6 months, how
> did you make your decision? what was it? and are
> you happy?
Well, to be honest I did a lot of research. I never really considered buying a kit, always thought I'd build it myself. Originally I was going to build the whiteant variant (I've got all the woodworking tools already), but when I found reprap.org I was sold. Sourced all the parts and assembled it with whatever information I could find. It never occurred to me to buy a kit - they seemed too expensive given that they were essentially the same product, just a different package/design and the thought/creativity had been squeezed out of the product. Maybe it's just me, but I think that self-asssembly leads to a much greater sense of accomplishment than assembling a kit where someone else has done the thinking for you. If that's what you want that's fine - just hope that the support is there to do the thinking for you when you need it. I think that's what led me to build my own - the fact that this is a free-form technology right now, with no 'correct' approach. I love that I can strip the machine down and reconfigure it if I so choose. I don't know that I'd be willing to do that if it was a kit. As a matter of fact would a kit producer support a kit that has been modified? Probably not. So I view the reprap iterations as the the best amongst the available alternatives. Not only in terms of affordability, but in upgradability, scalability and technological advancement. So what if it comes in a million flavors. Emerging technology is like this. How many car companies have come and gone? ALOT. This will be no different. Besides, talk of standardization now is way too premature. You already have standardization! The five 'gold-standard' models outlined on reprap.org are already available. There are a million variants of them, but who cares. The community is a market of ideas, and the best ones have ascended to the top. Will there be new designs ascendant while others decline? of course. But for now I get no sense that there is an overabundance of designs.
Am I happy with my decision? Unequivocally, yes. The linear Prusa is fantastic. I've had it running on and off for a little over two weeks and the quality of the parts is unbelievable - better than the ones I originally purchased by far. Don't get me wrong, there have been fits and starts. Learning anything and getting good at it is a challenge, but one that I've been really enjoying. Trying new things as they present themselves, modifying my processes, continually making tweaks to improve the performance and reliability of the machine. Researching and reading blogs, finding out what others are doing and seeing if I can get it to work for me. I just want to build a machine that when I print something at bedtime the part is there when I wake up, and I can get another one qued up and printing before I leave for work. Besides, it helped me kick my videogames habit! Skyrim was killing me...