Multi-material additive and subtractive prosumer digital fabrication with a free and open-source convertible delta RepRap 3-D printer

Gerald C. Anzalone (Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA)
Bas Wijnen (Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA)
Joshua M. Pearce (Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Publication date: 17 August 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present novel modifications to a RepRap design that increase RepRap capabilities well beyond just fused filament fabrication. Open-source RepRap 3-D printers have made distributed manufacturing and prototyping an affordable reality.

Design/methodology/approach

The design is a significantly modified derivative of the Rostock delta-style RepRap 3-D printer. Modifications were made that permit easy and rapid repurposing of the platform for milling, paste extrusion and several other applications. All of the designs are open-source and freely available.

Findings

In addition to producing fused filament parts, the platform successfully produced milled printed circuit boards, milled plastic objects, objects made with paste extrudates, such as silicone, food stuffs and ceramics, pen plotted works and cut vinyl products. The multi-purpose tool saved 90-97 per cent of the capital costs of functionally equivalent dedicated tools.

Research limitations/implications

While the platform was used primarily for production of hobby and consumer goods, research implications are significant, as the tool is so versatile and the fact that the designs are open-source and eminently available for modification for more purpose-specific applications.

Practical implications

The platform vastly broadens capabilities of a RepRap machine at an extraordinarily low price, expanding the potential for distributed manufacturing and prototyping of items that heretofore required large financial investments.

Originality/value

The unique combination of relatively simple modifications to an existing platform has produced a machine having capabilities far exceeding that of any single commercial product. The platform provides users the ability to work with a wide variety of materials and fabrication methods at a price of less than $1,000, provided users are willing to build the machine themselves.

Keywords

Citation

Anzalone, G., Wijnen, B. and Pearce, J. (2015), "Multi-material additive and subtractive prosumer digital fabrication with a free and open-source convertible delta RepRap 3-D printer", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 506-519. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-09-2014-0113

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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