a4This past weekend, I was lucky enough to marry a wonderful woman. In the process I had dozens of friends and family members down here in Florida to share the special occasion with my wife and me. Many of them were able to pay a visit to our home where they got to see a couple of 3D printers in action for the first time. I specifically paid attention to their reactions as they stared intently at the extruder laying down layer after layer of molten PLA filament.

They were all thoroughly impressed, if not amazed, by the technology, and several of them commented that they are now considering buying a 3D printer themselves. The question I heard most from these individuals, however, was “When will we be able to 3D print a 3D printer?”

Nearly everyone asking this question was doing so with quite a bit of sarcasm — and they were in disbelief when they heard my response of “You already can!”

The RepRap movement is continuing to make strides and although an entire 3D printer can not yet be 3D printed, we are getting pretty darn close. In fact, a designer from Ontario, Canada, going by the username of MiniMadRyan on 3DPB.com, has designed and printed what may be one of the more robust 3D printed 3D printers we have seen yet.

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Ryan has for the last month been providing the 3DPB.com community with updates to his build, and this last week has finally printed and assembled the entire machine, which looks quite impressive. While many RepRap 3D printers we have covered in the past are built with very open, airy frames, this machine is constructed quite differently. The printer is incredibly sturdy, with four 3D printed side frame panels used to house the build platform, somewhat protecting the print process from the surrounding environment.

Because of its sturdy and rugged construction, the components of this printer require quite a bit of print time. In total there are 58 3D printed parts which Ryan was able to fabricate over a two-week period in hisa2 free time. Total print time is estimated at about 60 hours, with each side frame piece accounting for 4-5 hours.

“I’ve thought about re-designing the printer to use OpenBeam/V-Slot for the frame to cut the printed parts time down to a day or less,” explained Ryan.

All the printable parts of the machine can be printed on any machine with a build envelope of at least 200 x 200 x 200 mm, with the dimensions of Ryan’s machine being 215 x 215 x 240 mm. The finished printer will have a build envelope of approximately 100 x 100 x 100 mm, which certainly is not huge but, given the overall size of the machine itself, is not bad.

Ryan used an all metal extruder for his build, but a variety of extruders could be used instead. In total Ryan spent approximately $250 on the components which were not printed, included the electronics, pulleys, belts, stepper motors, bearings, and linear rods. He also used approximately 1kg of 3D printer filament for this build, and plans to continue to refine his design.

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“I will be releasing the original drawings and STL’s for the printer in the next while for anyone who wishes to print their own or have a look at it,” explained Ryan. “I’ve already started planning on the next generation of this printer, and to hopefully offer it to the public in the next while.”

What do you think about this latest 3D printable 3D printer design? Will you try printing and assembling one yourself? Let us know in the MiniMadRyan’s 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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