I am currently designing a curriculum as part of my Masters program in which students will be using rapid prototyping to learn mathematics topics of geometry and measurements. In order to accomplish this schools will need access to cheap rapid prototyping machines. The best option for this is to use the open-source project RepRap. It was started by Professor Adrian Bowyer of University of Bath in the UK. It has since spread and more than 4,000 repraps exist now in the world with various modifications and improvements
There are various different options on purchasing a variation:
- MakerBot $1,299 – unassembled
- Botmill $1,395 – fully assembled and calibrated
- TechZoneCom $599 – unassembled mini-mendel model
- Makergear $875 – mendel model – unassembled
- Up! 3D printer $2995 – fully assembled and calibrated
- Order yourself! There are many more in the making, some with full kits, some with partial, you can order your own parts from all the designs on the Reprap.org website and even get everything for less than $500! Here are some money saving tips from the forum: Here
And so I purchased the cheapest one unassembled. This is a great option because it teaches you a lot about systems engineering and could be a great learning experience for middleschool and highschool students.
In February I placed an order for the RepRap Huxley from Techzonecom.com. After A LOT of hurdles (mostly from the lack of sufficient parts sent from techzone, but they cooperate well and help with troubleshooting and even send parts if needed) I have come to where I have all my axis moving.
- Wrong power supply (this kept me from testing motors and thus moving forward)
- lack of parts (nuts, bolts, winged nuts)
- False advertisement (they did not display the right tools needed to construct the reprap) – I needed to purchase measuring tape, a dremel drill, hot glue gun, wire strippers, ir thermometer, and a heat sink.
Shown here in this video of the X and Z axis test:
A video about reprap: