More RepRap Recycler Updates

So, it has been a while since the last update on the filament recycling project. Quite a bit has happened since then.

For starters, we came up with a name for the project, but later found out it was taken by a similar project. In the end we decided to just adopt the name of our senior’s old research project prototype “RepCycler”.

When the team heard that I had my blog they asked me to set one up dedicated to the project. Problem is, my blog lives on a virtual private server that I mess around with, and I didn’t feel like the project’s website should be affected by my shenanigans.  While I felt that was the better blog system/host, I didn’t want to hassle them with managing so many accounts just for the project, so I decided to set it up on Blogger, since we were already using Google Drive for sharing documents. You can find the project site here.

Anyways, to start with, we decided to work backwards from the price we could sell the machine at to get the approximate cost making our machine should be. We looked at the competitors’ products and compared various characteristics, such as the extrusion speed and how fine the tolerances are. We rated those characteristics on a relative scale and by weighting those ratings, and came up with a performance index for each machine.

So, to make something that is actually competitive, we could either make something

  1. low-end at a really cheap price;
  2. high-end at a reasonable price; or
  3. much better than the competitors at a premium.

We decided to go with the second choice. Which meant that our target was to make something that could be sold for around £500, and had the same performance of something like the ProtoCycler.

Yeah, I’m not sure how well we could achieve that, but hey, that was what we were aiming for.

Next up we had a look at the functions the machine had to do. There were stuff such as the breakdown of the old plastic parts, getting the optimal mix of old and new plastic, melting and extruding the mixture and controlling the final diameter of the filament. I picked the extrusion part since I did a quite a bit of initial research in that and had a good idea of what to do.

That’s all for now, I’ll write-up about the rest later.

Working on a RepRap Project

My engineering course this semester has a group business and design project where we work with a company on developing a product. Besides a couple of projects that you’d have to specifically sign up for, these projects were assigned to you and I was a bit nervous about it since I had no idea what the companies and projects were. I was incredibly glad when I ended up on a project sponsored by RepRapPro! 3D printing was something I’ve been meaning to dive into for a while now. I even got to meet Adrian Bowyer, the original RepRap developer (who used to give lectures at my university a few years ago!). It certainly was exciting and with their open source philosophy I was given the blessing to publicly discuss the project – something I wasn’t sure if I should do with my earlier projects. So now I can freely rant about it. Yay!

Now, about the project itself. The idea for the project is to develop an open source, desktop sized machine that can break down old 3D models and waste support structures and turn them into reusable filaments for more printing. There are a few similar plastic extrusion machines out there such as Filabot and ProtoCycler so we would have to work on setting ourselves apart from them. One thing we wanted to do was distribute ours under the GNU Public License, which does allow commercial derivatives, much like current RepRap machines. I do feel this is nice because I’m not entirely sure of the future of the project past the project deadline, and at the very least the project wouldn’t be dead if the group decides not to pick it up as a business when we graduate.

Nonetheless, it would be a fun project as one of the aims of the project is to produce a usable prototype before the project deadline in May.

Given that it’ll take time for me to write things up, my posts would be a while behind what’s actually going on.