Some Retroactive Justification

For some reason I’m up rather early this morning.  Having done all the prep work I needed last night, I have nothing to do but wait until a time I can start banging away without disturbing my neighbours.  So I figure this is a perfectly good time to come up with some justification for why I’m going to all this effort.
Ideally I would have gotten all these parts printed by some kind RepRap owner for a case of beer or similar trade.  It quickly became apparent that the effort required to print these parts is enough to turn most generous folk away.  The next option was to have the parts printed by a commercial service.  The cheapest I’ve seen has been Shapeways who have a number of materials to choose from.  The most appropriate for RepRap parts is the ‘white, strong and flexible‘ which currently costs $1.50 US per cubic centimetre.
While this may sound cheap (in fact it’s quite reasonable given the quality of the parts produced), this spreadsheet (webpage) illustrates the actual costs involved in a complete set of RepRap parts.  I’ve used SolidWorks to calculate the volume of each part.  The green and yellow indicated which parts I’ve cut from MDF already, or already have plans to, respectively.
After looking at these numbers I feel pretty justified :) .  But what about all the money I did spend on tools and materials?  Well so far I’ve saved around $1300 US making the parts myself.  I’ve definitely spent a few bucks on tools and MDF, but I’ll admit I haven’t really been tracking it very well.  A rough estimate of the tools and materials related specifically to the printed parts (not including fasteners and electronics etc.) would be around $250-$300 AU.  The biggest purchase being a drill-press, which I shall cherish for many years to come.  Of course I’ll still have all my tools long after this project is finished.
Finally; just so I don’t justify my RepRap itself out of useful-ness,  there is a lot of effort involved in cutting each of these parts by hand, and the few parts I have remaining are going to be quite difficult.  So while I’m arguing against spending thousands of dollars getting bits printed, the actual process of 3D printing is way easier than the alternative!  Hopefully the price will someday reflect this.

6 comments

  1. Rohan says:

    Hey,

    Have you had a chat with the Make Hack Void guys ( http://www.makehackvoid.com/ )? I don’t know the details of RepRap construction but maybe they could help out?

    Rohan

  2. Ben Coughlan says:

    As far as I know, they don’t have a 3D printer among them, which is really the only thing I need.

  3. Adam says:

    Hi Ben,
    I’m one of the committee members at Make, Hack, Void. I found your blog via the referrer logs on our site.

    One of our members has a Makerbot and another has a Makerbot Plastruder and a Spindle which he is mounting to his CNC milling machine. Unfortunately neither of those members will be at the meeting tonight but we’d still love to have you along. Details on the meeting are on the site. From the looks of your blog you’d fit right in.

    If you want to chat to the owner of the mill to see if you can get things rolling, jump into our irc channel (/#makehackvoid on irc.freenode.net) and ping EvilDeece or send an email to makers@makehackvoid.com.

    Adam.

  4. Greg says:

    I went the \easy?\ route (on your advice) and bought a complete reprap kit (laser cut mendel from techzone). I like tinkering, but after looking into it, the magnitude of the exercise of sourcing all the parts, learning to surface mount solder (and getting the equipment to do it), was becoming aparent and I thought it could well be something that I started and never finished. When my kit arrives, I’ll have the fun job of putting it all together and trying to work out how to get it working. If you are still looking for parts then, I might be able to print some for you.

    There are a lot of buts mights and ifs in that paragraph, and it sounds like the makehackvoid crowd will probably be able to help you out anyway. If not, it sounds like you are in the happy position of only needing a few bits, so you are probably at the point where you wont \turn most generous people away\.

  5. Ben Coughlan says:

    @Adam Hey Adam, as I’m sure you noticed, I didn’t make it on Tuesday night. Sounds intriguing though. I’ll definitely try and make it to the next one.

  6. Ben Coughlan says:

    @Greg I’m sure you’ll still have your work cut out for you! :D

    I might do a post after I’ve collected all my parts listing the suppliers I’ve used. I try to get everything locally when possible, but I’ve still spent a lot of cash on postage.

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