New Thing for Me: RepRap

Folger Tech FT-5 print head on gantry

I’ve got a Folger Tech FT-5 3D printer kit that I’m putting together. I’ve just gotten the mechanical parts of the print head put together and attached to the gantry. That’s been a roadblock. I wanted a Micro Swiss all-metal hotend, which cascaded into getting other Micro Swiss extruder parts and a “universal” MK 10 heater block from, I’m not making this up, “Uncle Chuck’s Parts”. I’m not aware of an actual part count for this beast, but it must be close to a thousand when every nut and bolt counts.

There’s a bunch of wiring I have to look forward to. And calibration. I attended the MidWest RepRap Festival (MRRF) in Indiana earlier this year, and while I was advised that the FT-5 was a bit of a challenge even for the experienced RepRap person, the extra-large print volume for a Cartesian coordinate printer proved too tempting for me. Fortunately, I also know Tim Schmidt, one of RepRap’s core developers, and have been getting assistance from him.

One of the early tasks I’m aiming to use this for is making filter holders for solar film in advance of the total eclipse on August 21st, 2017. There are a lot of interesting projects in Thingiverse for photography besides filter holders. And lots more beyond that. Certainly one of the things to be built will be the 3D scanner that uses a smartphone to take a series of photos of a small object, then build a mesh suitable for the basis of a 3D print.

About fifteen years ago, I was getting accustomed to doing G-code for a desktop CNC mill. This will be using G-code for an additive rather than a subtractive process. I’m looking forward to that.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

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