Because Delta-style 3D printers are described as “more fun to watch operate” then the basic Cartesian-format printers, learners and educators have begun building variations of the 3DR RepRap design created by my “3D Printing for Dummies” co-author, Richard Horne.
The 3DR is a nice solution for self-built 3D Printers because it makes use of common materials rather than specialized hardware. Each of the three support members provides only spacing between the upper and lower frame components, so the model can be adjusted to fit many different types of materials, from aluminum and steel to bamboo as Richard has demonstrated.
The slides were originally designed to use LM6UU linear bearings and 6mm steel rods where are more commonly available in the United Kingdom, where Richard lives and I had enough of those already available to build one system.
Another designer, John Socha-Leialoha, in Washington State has modified the design to take 8mm rods and LM8UU linear bearings, which are already used in many of our robotics designs, so we are also building several of his designs as well.
The control electronics use standard Arduino Mega variations, which most of our workshop participants are familiar with, together with RAMPS or other 3D Printer shields capable of handling the stepper motor current requirements. The 3DR eliminates the need for toothed gear cables like those in the Rostock Max design, using braided fishing line like Spectra or another similar product in its place. Other elements involve small M4 bolts and screws, available from the local hardware store, together with parts that can be fabricated using a 3D Printer and Richard or John’s open-source shared files.
As we look ahead towards 2014’s workshops, the growing number of 3D printers available to local educators and young learners will spawn more questions and more build workshops in turn, providing more opportunities to spread the concept behind the SOLID Learning program within the public school and libraries of Central and Southern Texas!