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Read Before Posting - Technical Questions and Answers

Posted by MattMoses 
Read Before Posting - Technical Questions and Answers
January 07, 2014 10:09AM
1. What is RepRap?
RepRap is a general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine. RepRap takes the form of a desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap prints those parts, RepRap self-replicates by making a kit of itself - a kit that anyone can assemble given time and materials.

2. I am new, where should I start?
Please start with these links: The incomplete reprap beginner's guide and RepRap Options.

3. I want to build a RepRap, what are my options?
A short list of popular machine types is at this link. There is a much more extensive list here: RepRap Options. In addition, there are many other types that may or may not be included in these lists, such as Mendel90, Tantilus, Rostock, 3DR, Morgan, and Simpson.

4. Can I build a RepRap from scratch?
Yes. Many people have built 3D printers "from scratch" using whatever parts they can find. They are called RepStraps.

5. Where can I learn more about the history of RepRap?
RepRap was conceived of and founded by Adrian Bowyer in 2004. On the RepRap wiki, the Developer Bookshelf collects three important resources about the early history:
(1) A History of RepRap Development is a 1790 page archive of posts from the RepRap Development Blog
(2) Hydraraptor - The story so far includes 935 pages of nophead's work on RepRap
(3) Diary of a Technocratic Anarchist contains 925 pages of Forrest Higgs's work on RepRap
Gary Hodgson, who archived this work, writes: "Much of the information found in the earlier RepRap blogs is still very relevant today and makes for invaluable reading for anyone interested in developing parts and printers or interested in how the project has reached the state it currently is in."

6. I want to buy a 3D printer, what should I get?
Please do some initial research by looking at one of the many comparisons available, such as: 3D printers price compare, 3D Printer Comparison Chart, and What you need to know about buying a 3D printer. If you still have questions after reading these articles, please feel free to post them.

7. Has anyone had experience with vendor XXX?
Before asking this, please search the forums for "vendor XXX" and also look at the RepRap Buyers Guide. If that does not answer your question then please feel free to ask.

8a. Where can I buy printed parts for a RepRap?
8b. Where can I buy non-printed parts for a RepRap?
8c. Where can I buy a full kit for a RepRap?
For sourcing parts check out the RepRap Buyers Guide, the For Sale section, and ebay.

9a. What is the best hot end?
9b. What kind of hot end should I get?
Please see Hot End Comparison on the wiki.

10. Are there any visual instruction manuals for building a RepRap?
Yes. Here are a few: Prusa Mendel Visual Instructions, Building Your Own 3D Printer, Mendel90 Build Manual, Tantillus Build Manual.

11a. What software is needed?
11b. What is a slicer?
11c. What is GCODE?
11d. What is firmware?
There are many different software packages in use. In general the software package(s) must perform four tasks:
(1) CAD software is used by a designer to create a 3D model, which is saved as an STL file.
(2) A slicer converts the 3D model to GCODE.
(3) Printer controller software sends GCODE to the printer over USB.
(4) Firmware running on the printer controller interprets the GCODE and controls the motors and heaters on the printer itself.
Some packages will perform exactly one of these functions, other packages will perform several. Software (1-3) usually runs on a standard PC (windows, mac, unix), while software (4) usually runs on a microprocessor (such as an Arduino) on the printer controller. For more information see: Useful Software Packages, CAM Toolchains, RepRap GCODE, and RepRap Magazine: Issue 1.

12. How does a slicer algorithm work?
There is a description of one approach here: Detailed description of geometry processing.

13a. What electronics should I get?
13b. Where can I find more information on the printer controller?
There are lists of commonly used RepRap control electronics at: List of Electronics and Comparison of Electronics.

14a. What size stepper motors should I use?
14b. Where can I buy stepper motors?
14c. Can I use stepper motor XXX?
14d. How do I wire up my stepper motors?
Please see: Stepper Motor, Stepper Motor Wiring, NEMA 14 Stepper Motor, NEMA 17 Stepper Motor, and NEMA 23 Stepper Motor.

15. Where are good places to get filament?
See Printing Material Suppliers

16. What kind of filament should I get?
The most common filaments come in two materials: ABS and PLA; and two diameters: 1.75mm and 3mm. There is a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each option here: ABS or PLA? Choosing the right filament. This article discusses some of the newer filament materials: ABS vs PLA vs many new, innovative materials

17. Do I need a heated bed?
Typically a heated bed is essential for printing ABS, and optional (but helpful) for printing PLA.

18. How do I get PLA to stick?
Read Getting PLA to stick, check the Printing subforum and see 'What are good surfaces for the print bed?'.

19. How do I get ABS to stick?
Read How to get extruded ABS to stick to print bed?, check the Printing subforum and see 'What are good surfaces for the print bed?'.

20. What are good surfaces for the print bed?
It is important that the print bed be clean and/or properly coated and otherwise prepared in order for a print to stick to it. Some of the surfaces (other than bare glass) that people use include: Glass with ABS juice, Glass with PVA glue, Glass with hairspray, Kapton tape, Blue painter's tape, Perfboard. Also see these Wiki pages: Bed Material and Heated Bed.

21. How do I calibrate and fine-tune my RepRap to get good prints?
Start with RichRap's Calibration Guide and Triffid Hunter's Calibration Guide.

22. I am having trouble getting good prints, can you help?
Please see: Printing subforum and Print Troubleshooting Pictorial Guide. If you post a message asking for help troubleshooting a printing problem, please provide the information listed on this wiki page: Info we need to diagnose your printing issue.

23. Where can I get models to print?
Please see: List of 3D model databases.

24. How do I convert a 2D image to a 3D file I can print?
There are many ways, a few of which are covered in these forum threads: Image to 3D, Software for extruding 2D image into 3D model, and How to generate extruded 3D model from images.

25. Has anyone thought about 3D printing metal?
Yes. There are many established technologies for 3D printing metal parts, but most of these are beyond the reach of individual experimenters. There are many groups working on accessible low-cost technologies for 3D printing metal. Please see these working examples: A new approach to printing metals, Metal printing on a Lulzbot, Fused Deposition Modeling of Metals, Metal Delta RepRap v1.0, and these forum threads: Metal FDM thread, Metal-print Reprap, 3D Metal Printer Projects?, Induction Heated Nozzle, 3D Electroplating?, and these other resources: Metalbot.org, and MetalicaRap.

26. Can you extrude ordinary metal solder with a RepRap?
Yes. See First Reprapped circuit and Metal printing on a Lulzbot.

27. Can you extrude low melting point metal into grooves in a 3D printed plastic part?
Yes. See Multi-material freeform fabrication of active systems, First Reprapped circuit, and Syringe pump metal extruder.

28a. Has anyone worked on a color printer?
28b. Has anyone worked on color mixing extruders?
Yes. See 3-way Quick-fit Extruder and Colour Blending Nozzle and RepRap Colour Mixing Report for starters. Also see the many ideas brainstormed in this thread: Full Color 3D Printer Project.

29. Has anyone thought about 3D printing wax?
Yes. Please read these forum threads: hot wax extruder, Printing Wax, and Wax Printing and this wiki page: Heated Piezo for Jetting Wax.

30. Has anyone thought about 3D printing clay?
Yes. See Ceramic Extrusion and Ceramic Delta.

31. Has anyone used a 3D printed plastic part as a mould master, in a process akin to lost-wax casting?
Yes. See: Metal bits from a RepRap and Lost PLA Casting from 3D Prints

32. Has anyone made their own Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printer?
Yes. See: Open SLS and Focus SLS printer, and Powder Printing and SLS subforum.

33. Has anyone made their own Powder Printer?
Yes. See: Pwdr Model 0.1, Dragonator 3DP printer, and Powder Printing and SLS subforum.

34. Can a RepRap make its own circuit boards?
Yes. See: First Reprapped circuit, Automated Circuitry Making, Plotting, Copper Plating Wire Glue, Making PCB's with a diode laser.

35. Can a RepRap make its own motors?
Not really, but people are working on it. See: Actuator Fabrication and Working Electric Motor Printed.

36. Can a RepRap completely replicate itself?
No. While a RepRap can make many of its structural and mechanical parts, and even its own circuit boards, it cannot yet make practical motors, electronic components, or extruders. But people are working on it. See for example Convergence to self replicating and BOB Simpson.

37. Can I donate money to the RepRap Project?
Yes. There is a Donation Page here. You may also create and contribute to RepRap Bounties.

38. Is RepRap open source?
Yes. See: RepRap GPL License. Please also read the opinion of Adrian Bowyer (RepRap's founder) regarding this topic here: RepRap and Open Source.

39. Can anyone edit the RepRap Wiki?
Yes. See here for help getting started: RepRap Wiki Tutorial.

40. How do I edit the Technical Q&A?
Any admin can edit this post. If you would like to see something updated or changed, please PM an admin or post a request in the Administration, Announcements, Policy subforum.

Edited 10 time(s). Last edit at 03/22/2016 09:54AM by MattMoses.
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