Lets go ahead and start off with some terminology you should know getting into the open source 3d printing. In no way do I consider this a complete list, rather a starting point with some of the most common terms that come to mind. I will add to this list as new things come to me or are pointed out to me. As with everything in this blog it will be a work in progress.
- Arduino – Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. The RosBot uses an Arduino Mega 2650 coupled with a RAMPS 1.4 board for the “brains” of the machine.
- Arduino IDE – This is the software used to communicate with the Arduino board, this is where you will write, compile, and load programs onto the Arduino board, for instance you would use the Arduino IDE to load the Firmware onto the controller board. The Arduino Software is free, open source, and available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
- RAMPS – This is an Arduino shield that allows you to easily connect stepper drivers, hotends, servos, endstops, fans, etc to your Arduino Mega 2650. I am using RAMPS 1.4 in the RosBot which is most common nowadays.
- Firmware – This is the code that runs on the (for our purposes) Arduino compatible controller board, or “Brains” of the printer. The computer sends G-code to the controller which converts that into the step and direction signals(among other input and output signals).
- G-code – G-code is a language in which people tell computerized machine tools what to make and how to make it. The “how” is defined by instructions on where to move to, how fast to move, and through what path to move. So the G-code is what tells the printer where to lay down the plastic in order to build up the desired object.
- BOM – Bill of Materials, this is a list of all the parts and hardware you will need to build that specific machine and most of the time where you can source these parts from.
- Driver – This is a hardware component which does the electrical switching of the stepper motor coils to move the motor either forward or reverse.
- Filament – This is the plastic stock and can be either 3mm or 1.75mm, I only use 1.75mm because that’s what my first machine (a Rostock Max!) came ready for and I see no reason the change, the RosBot will also print 1.75mm. Filament can come as many different materials but the most common are ABS and PLA. I only print in ABS just because I haven’t gotten around to experimenting with PLA.
- Host Software – This is your user interface (assuming you are not using a smart LCD controller and SD card) to the printer. I like, use, and recommend Repetier Host, as it has a great GUI and works very well.
- Hotend – This is the heated nozzle where the filament is extruded. Common types are J-Head, Prusa, and E3D
- OpenSCAD – this is OpenSource software that lets you create parametric 3D models using a c-like scripting language and simple geometric constructs. I use it and love it,there are plenty of useful and informative tutorials to become quite proficient with openSCAD.
- OpenSource – A lot of people think OpenSource means free, but that’s not the case. When something is OpenSource that means that all the design files and source code for whatever project it is are freely available and you can go ahead and source all the parts and build it, or compile it, or even improve upon and make changes to it. While a good majority of OpenSource projects are free a lot of places will for instance release some software for free but charge an arm and a leg for the support of said software. Everything should be OpenSource, I feel it is a great way for our technology to advance, the RosBot Kossel will be released as an OpenSource project.
- Reprap - It means a lot of things, but to me it’s is the community of machines, software, and people that build, support, and enjoy hobby 3D printing of the opensource kind.
- Slicer – this is software that takes a 3D model and slices into layers of gcode. Slicers can be integrated into the host software (Cura, Repetier, Pronterface) or stand along (Kisslicer)
Great, now we know some of the most common terms that you will hear or see as you are researching 3d printing and 3d printers so you wont feel like their speaking a different language! Now comes the biggest questions:
“Where do I start?”
“I want a 3D printer, but I don’t know which one, or which one is the best?”
To start I would say Google is your best friend! Search all you can, visit forums, post questions there. If it is a forum for a specific brand then dont post a question like “what do you think is the best printer?”, you will end up with a bias opinion lol. Forums are great, there are also some great blogs out there, check out Google Groups, I am a member of “Delta Robot 3D Printers” because I absolutely love Delta style printers! Watching a Delta move is so hypnotic, I even love the noises they make (that’s why I never get dampers for my motors, dampers make them quieter). They are very fast and very precise machines, again I love them!
During all your searching you need to answer a couple questions, first is what kind of 3D printer do you want? Is it Delta (mostly tall, controlled by three arms that ride along three towers to move the effector in 3D space), or a Cartesian (more of a box shape, each axis moves in a different direction for x, y, and z), there are other types but for the most part these are the two main types when it comes to consumer or hobbyist printers. And most important, what do you want to print with your 3D printer? Do you want large and tall prints, small nick knacks or toys, or are you looking for something to make prototypes for work or your hobby? If you want to print small things like toys and jewelery or little statues then I’d go with a cheaper Cartesian that has a smaller build area and would be more cost effective for you. If you wanna go big and tall and be able to print anything under the sun then go with a Delta, personally I would recommend the Rostock Max V2 by seemecnc.com. I have a version 1 Rostock Max but it is awesome and still pretty much the same as version 2 besides looks. It was my first printer, and yes, you have to build it yourself but that’s half the fun for me anyway plus they have a great build manual and also a very helpful forum community that can be found at forum.seemecnc.com. My new machine I’m designing and currently building, the RosBot Kossel, is a Detabot also. Hopefully this will help out a few people out there at least. More posts to come but in the meantime….
~~Happy Printing Everyone!!!