Some are known as king makers — and with that in mind, RepRap could be known as the maker’s maker. Widely considered as a broad source of inspiration in the technology world, RepRap is known for being the first in many areas of 3D printing.
RepRap created the first affordable 3D printer which also just happens to be a self-propogating tool, capable of printing out the parts necessary to clone itself with the parts for another printer that can be shared with someone else. Bringing the joys of 3D printing to the world, RepRap is also responsible for what may be a new community capable of changing the manufacturing world as we know it: the open-source concept and community.
That concept and community continue to propagate new RepRaps and a fluid conversation between makers, as exemplified in the latest project by Sébastien Mischler, operating on the basic principle of improving upon what’s already been done with the Prusa i3. As the third generation of the Prusa, the i3 offered new features on earlier generation models, as well as using innovative points from other previous and original RepRap 3D printers.
With the iTopie, Mischler, in catering to workshops, hopes to improve on the time it takes to assemble the RepRap 3D printer. Mischler also has a strong focus on ‘increasing rigidity’ with the iTopie, using an MDF structure that is durable, affordable, and stable.
Mischler is operating on the concept that this 3D printer is quite simply in essence just a computer-driven tool with the addition of an extruder, and in understanding and accepting that we can work better to manipulate the machine in replicating itself.
Specifications for the machine are:
- Envelope (x/y/z) – 390 x 440 x 460 mm
- Print volume (x/y/z) – 200 x 200 x 250 mm
- Printed parts (min + optionals) (exc. extruder) – 18 pcs + 6 pcs
- Non Printed Parts – ~ ??? [sic]
- Frame – 19mm Wood (MDF)
Mischler has just published his source files and is open to discussion and help with any improvements for the design on the RepRap forum, as he tackles concerns like wondering if the Y bearing support has too many constraints, with a measurement of 10 mm. Software is also a discussion in the RepRap community. Mischler points out that currently he is using:
- Sketchup for the CNC router
- OpenSCAD for parametrics
- CamBam to generate the G-Code
The iTopie is compatible with the Prusa i3, offering plastic parts for the X and Z axes that work for both. Source files are maintained at github.
As all technology continues to improve on itself, Mischler’s work on improving the Prusa i3 concept is a prime example of how the RepRap community works in the continual birth and rebirth of new and better 3D printers — as well as creating more makers and enthusiasts along the way, each day.
As the most widely used 3D printer in the ‘making’ community, RepRap has been fairly responsible for, and lauded in, creating a highly inspired and tightknit community that has kept the momentum going. With statistics pointing to numbers for households who print just 20 household items each year as saving considerably, it’s obviously a technology moving into the mainstream at a rate that has caught many off guard. The spotlight is centered on 3D printing technology and does not appear to be wavering anytime soon.
Not just limited and closed to 3D printing, RepRap sees the open-source concept and replicating possibilities as applicable to a number of different technologies, and they encourage discussion of that in their forums, as the open-source community is all about having an overall open mind in learning about new applications and products.
Have you checked out the information on Mischler’s iTopie? What questions or ideas do you have? Share with us in the RepRap iTopie forum over at 3DPB.com.