Open-source RepRap 3-D printers have made distributed manufacturing and prototyping an affordable reality. This paper presents novel modifications to a RepRap design that increase RepRap capabilities well beyond just fused filament fabrication.
The design is a significantly modified derivative of the Rostock delta-style RepRap 3-D printer. Modifications were made that permit easy and rapid repurposing of the platform for milling, paste extrusion and several other applications. All of the designs are open-source and freely available.
In addition to producing fused filament parts, the platform successfully produced milled printed circuit boards, milled plastic objects, objects made with paste extrudates such as silicone, food stuffs and ceramics, pen plotted works and cut vinyl products. The multi-purpose tool saved 90-97% of the capital costs of functionally equivalent dedicated tools.
While the platform was used primarily for production of hobby and consumer goods, research implications are significant since the tool is so versatile and the fact that the designs are open-source and eminently available for modification for more purpose-specific applications.
The platform vastly broadens capabilities of a RepRap machine at an extraordinarily low price, expanding the potential for distributed manufacturing and prototyping of items that heretofore required large financial investments.
The unique combination of relatively simple modifications to an existing platform have produced a machine having capabilities far exceeding that of any single commercial product. The platform provides users the ability to work with a wide variety of materials and fabrication methods at a price of less than $1,000 providing users are willing to build the machine themselves.
To have a look at design steps for various tools, visit our appropedia page.
Download the open access paper here.