Here come the 3D-printed 3D printers

Credit: Raymond Wong/DVICE

The amoeba has a lot in common with a RepRap 3D printer. Why? Amoebas are able to self-replicate, just like a RepRap 3D printer can print parts of itself and essentially create a whole new RepRap machine. The RepRap project, short for "replicating rapid prototype," was first started in 2005 by British engineer Adrian Bowyer. It has since sprouted into a massive, open-source community of RepRappers who continue to create, innovate and refine with each mistake and success.

Nicholas Seward, creator of Concept Forge, is one such RepRapper who successfully created his own 3D printers, which were shown at this year's Maker Faire. His creations, the Simpson (top pic) and Wally (bottom pic), are aimed at making 3D RepRap printers virtually vitamin-free. (No, not those kind of vitamins that a human body needs.) Vitamins are parts that cannot be 3D-printed, like wiring, bolts and other essential components.

The original RepRap printers used a higher vitamin-to-3D-printed part ratio that included movement-restricting linear rails which limited how large the final 3D printed object would be. Seward's line of RepRap printers feature linear rail-less movement, which allows greater freedom in choosing the size of your 3D creation.

Each of Seward's RepRap printers can print a whole machine within 60 hours, and requires about $20 of plastic, approximately $150 of electronics and finally, the cost of vitamins like bolts and screws. Seward is planning a Kickstarter for launch in December which aims at having the Wally and Simpson at a set cost of $450 for a do-it-yourself kit and $600 for a fully operational RepRap product. The blueprints for the Wally and Simpson will also be available to view within a week, after Seward adds some finishing touches. Time to get working on a customized RepRap!

Concept Forge, via Rep Rap

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