Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Where Should I Start In Designing A 3D Printer?

  1. Oct 3, 2013 #1
    I would like to design a 3D printer. I know that sounds very ambitious (and probably stupidly unrealistic), but I'm not talking about the fanciest things on the market (like glass/metal printers). I just want to design a printer that can print to a great resolution and in mixtures of 3 primary colors (multicolor models) with plastic. I don't want to go with the vanilla Rep-Rap printer (an "open source" 3D printer) because:

    A) I don't have access to all of the specialized plastic parts.
    B) The Rep-Rap is designed to print one color at a low resolution.

    I am not well-versed in 3D printing (I have never even used one). I have no experience in mechanical engineering or in 3D printing, but I have experience in computer programming and CAD. I know building a precision machine isn't programming, but I do feel like I can learn effectively by myself. After all, I think I taught myself way more than what a first-year computer science student would learn, and this all by my lonesome in approximately 1.5 years.

    All fluff aside, do you think it is even worth my time to start this project, or do you think that I won't get anywhere. My design would be heavily based off of the Rep-Rap, but with major changes to allow for high-resolution multicolor printing.

    Should I make this my new project and start pouring weekends into it, or do you think it is a waste of time?

    P.S: I might not have used a printer, but over the past few months I have been studying 3D printing heavily. I believe the sentences about "not well versed in 3D printing" are at least somewhat misleading.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2013 #2

    Simon Bridge

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Build this one:
    ... oh you've seen it!!!

    A non-fancy 3D printer is well within the scope of the desktop hobbyist - don't worry about it. You can get as complicated as your budget will allow.

    The RepRap will even make a lot of it's own parts so once you've built one small one, you can build as many as you like to different specs... allows you to modify the design easily.
  4. Oct 3, 2013 #3
    First, you should actually try 3D printing. Then you should build a kit printer.
  5. Oct 3, 2013 #4

    Simon Bridge

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Reprap project supplies kit printers.
    huntoon is right - build a standard kit before you try designing your own.
  6. Oct 4, 2013 #5
    I guess I will start with what you recommend. Thank you for your advice. I will start with the RepRap.
  7. Oct 4, 2013 #6

    Simon Bridge

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    It's basically the perfect 3D printer starter kit, yeah.

    From your description, you really want to start with the very simplest one, experiment with it a bit, and decide on improvements - use it to print the parts for the improved version. Each one of the reprap designs you see on the wiki were printed using previous versions that were much clunkier - so, if anything, you are underestimating what is available to you.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook